Disease transmitted primarily by direct sexual contact. STDs usually affect the reproductive system and urinary system but can be spread to the mouth or rectum by oral or anal sex. In later stages they may attack other organs and systems. The best-known are syphilis, gonorrhea, AIDS, and herpes simplex. Yeast infections (see candida) produce a thick, whitish vaginal discharge and genital irritation and itch in women and sometimes irritation of the penis in men. Crab louse infestation (see louse, human) can also be considered an STD. The incidence of STDs has been affected by such factors as antibiotics, birth-control methods, and changes in sexual behaviour. See also chlamydia; hepatitis; pelvic inflammatory disease; wart.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.For the full entry on sexually transmitted disease (STD), visit Britannica.com.
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