Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are quite common. In fact, there are over 20 million new cases of STDs reported each year.

In the United States, the most common STD is the human papillomavirus (HPV).

You can prevent strains of HPV by getting the HPV vaccine. But still, over 79 million Americans have a type of HPV. It disproportionately affects sexually active teens and young adults.

The CDC reports the following as the second and third most common STDs in the United States:

There’s plenty that can be done to prevent STDs like practicing safe sex. There’s also plenty of resources and treatments available if you do get one.

Worldwide, more than 376 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis infections occur each year. While these are common STDs, the most common varies depending on your location and other factors.

Here’s a quick Q&A about common STDs for specific groups.

What’s the most common STD in Mexico?

While data isn’t readily available on the most common STDs in Mexico, older research reports that genital and vaginal infections are the most common.

Research in 2006 reported the certain populations may have a higher incidence of genital herpes (HSV-2).

Typical genital symptoms include:

  • itchiness
  • discharge
  • a burning sensation

What’s the most common in the Dominican Republic?

STD data can be difficult to gather from the Dominican Republic, but one of the most prevalent STDs is HIV or AIDs.

The prevalence ranges from 1 percent among the general population to 11 percent among men who have sex with men.

And what’s the most common STD in Thailand?

STD data isn’t always readily available for Thailand, either, but global HIV educator Avert reports that over 480,000 people have some form of HIV in this country.

That’s over 1 percent of the country’s population and around 9 percent of the total cases of HIV reported in Asia and the Pacific region.

What’s the most common bacterial STD?

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STD. It’s easily spread between partners during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can be prevented by practicing safe sex, like using a condom every time.

What’s the most common STD in college?

Nearly half of new STDs are diagnosed among people ages 15 to 24. Chlamydia is the most common STD reported on college campuses.

What’s the most common STD in men?

Chlamydia is also the most common STD that affects men. About 578,000 cases were reported in 2017 in just males.

Chlamydia doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms, either, especially in men. This makes it easier to spread when someone doesn’t know they have it.

What’s the most common in women?

HPV is the most common STD that affects women. Nearly 40 percent of women reportedly have some strain of HPV.

It’s common for HPV to have no symptoms and may go away before someone even knows they have it.

What’s the most common STD test?

The most common STD test reported worldwide is the chlamydia swab test. A chlamydia swab test is done by using a cotton swab to take a sample of fluid from the vagina or from an infected area near the genitals, anus, or mouth.

The chlamydia urine test is also commonly done for people with penises. This consists of peeing in a sample cup at a secure, sterile testing facility where the sample can be properly stored and analyzed for the presence of transmissable chlamydia bacteria.

When someone first gets an STD, they may not notice symptoms for some time. In fact, many may not develop symptoms at all.

Many cases of HPV happen without any symptoms or don’t impact your overall health. Many women don’t know they have HPV until they have a cervical cancer screening with a pap smear.

The most common initial symptom of some HPV types are warts. These warts may not show up until much later after the initial infection — from a few weeks to a few years.

Keep in mind that there are over 100 strains of HPV. Not all HPV types cause warts, but there are several types of HPV-related warts you can get based on the type of HPV you’re experiencing:

  • Genital warts look like tiny, raised, cauliflower-like bumps or lesions on your genital skin. They don’t cause any pain, but can be itchy.
  • Common warts look like coarse, elevated bumps. They typically show up somewhere on your arms, including your elbows, fingers, or hands.
  • Plantar warts appear as small, tough, textured bumps on the underside of your feet, especially right behind your toes or on your heels.
  • Flat warts look like soft, somewhat elevated lesions. They can show up almost anywhere on your body and appear a bit darker than your natural skin color.

While many do, not all HPV infections go away on their own. If left untreated, some strains of HPV can cause more serious health conditions, such as:

Not all HPV infections cause cancer. Some simply cause warts and no other symptoms or complications.

While HPV can’t be “cured,” many infections clear up on their own. When HPV doesn’t go away, it may stay in your body and become transmissable at any time.

If your HPV infection fades on its own, you don’t need any specific treatment. Otherwise, there’s plenty you can do to treat its symptoms.

To get tested for HPV, women can get screened with a pap smear. If the pap smear is abnormal and you have positive results for HPV, then your doctor will probably ask you to come in yearly for a repeat test.

This can also allow your doctor to keep an eye on any cells that can be affected by the virus and potentially lead to the development of cancerous cells.

Here are some common treatments for possible HPV symptoms:

  • Genital warts: Options include prescription medications like imiquimod (Zyclara) that can be applied to the wart, removing the wart by burning it with concentrated electricity, or freezing the wart off with liquid nitrogen. This only gets rid of warts and doesn’t have any impact on the virus in your body.
  • Potentially cancerous cells: Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), an outpatient procedure, removes cells that may cause cancer from the cervix and other affected areas. This is typically done if your doctor finds cells that may become cancerous during a routine screening for HPV.
  • Cancers caused by HPV: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgical removal of tumors or cancerous cells, or a combination of one or more of these procedures can be done if you develop an HPV-related cancer.

The best ways to prevent contracting an STD are to practice safe sex and get regular STD screenings.

To prevent HPV in particular and avoid related complications:

  • Use protection every time you have sex, whether it’s condoms, a dental dam, or something similar.
  • Get physicals, STD screenings, and Pap smears at least once a year, but more if you’re sexually active with new or multiple partners.
  • Get regular STD screenings before and after you have sex with a new partner, in order to find any instances of HPV or its related health problems.
  • Get the HPV vaccine as soon as possible, as early as 11 years old, to prevent the most high-risk strains of HPV.

Due to stigma, it can be hard to talk about having an STD or accept that you have one, especially one that can’t be cured.

Experiencing complications like sexual dysfunction, infertility, or cancer can be even harder to cope with for both you and your loved ones.

But you’re not alone. The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) offers support groups for the millions of people with HPV and other STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

And don’t be afraid to speak with a licensed therapist or counselor to help you cope with the impact that having an STD can have.

While we don’t often talk about it, STDs are fairly common around the world. HPV is the most common STD in America, affecting over 79 million people. Many more millions have some form of chlamydia and gonorrhea.

If you develop an STD, you’re not alone. Many people share the experience, and it’s important to be open with healthcare providers, partners, and family to help you cope with any complications or symptoms.