Herpes Simplex 1 or 2, Virus
The 411: Anyone who's ever had a cold sore has herpes 1. These mouth sores, however, can be spread to the nether- region (resulting in a mild outbreak), so if you feel a tingling in the lip, hold off on the cunnilingus. Genital herpes 2 is far more pervasive, with sores on the hoo hoo, hee haw, and even down the legs. Prevent it by asking your partner about their STD status (before you screw). Unless they haven't had an outbreak yet, people know if they have herpes and can tell when they're about to have an outbreak.
Self-Diagnosis: Sores look like blisters and are hot, tingly, and itchy. Flu-like symptoms are most severe before the first outbreak.
Treatment: While there's no cure, there are suppression medicines that reduce the number of outbreaks significantly (also useful if you get cold sores that take over your face). Ask your doctor to write you a 'script. The bright side? The number and severity of outbreaks usually reduce over time.
The Biz: Another pair of STDs that stick it to you by transferring easily from person to person, despite the use of a condom. Oh yeah, and they're bugs.
Self-Diagnosis: Crabs lay eggs in your pubic hair, which is horrible enough to make you remain abstinent for life. Scabies burrow beneath the skin, and make you itch like a mental patient.
Treatment: Do not sleep in a weird, gross bed, say, like at Rob Zombie's house. Wash clothes from Goodwill before wearing them. Do not have sex with someone who is uncontrollably scratching themselves.
The Nitty Gritty: While AIDS is not as widespread as the media would have you believe, at least scare tactics work. Drugs to manage symptoms cost a shitload, it's incurable, and you might die. Plus, all you have to do is use a condom and you probably won't get it That's for oral sex, too, sorry. Astroglide, specifically, has been proven to lower chances of HIV transmission. The spermicide nonoxynol-9 increases transmission risk.
Self-Diagnosis: Anytime you have severe weight loss and persistent flu symptoms, you should go to the doctor--but they're also a sign of HIV.
The Skinny: The most elusive of all STDs, HPV comes in many forms: the show-off variety (warts), the sneaky variety (dangerous cell mutation causing cervical or anal cancer) and, of course, the invisible variety (does nothing, says nothing). Warts are most easily transmitted when they're present, but according to the Center for Disease Control, HPV can be transmitted without symptoms through genital skin contact, although the risk is lessened by the use of condoms. Note: HPV or herpes can also be transmitted if your bikini waxer double-dips her stick.
Self-Diagnosis: Warts are flesh-colored bumps that turn rough and, yes, start to look like cauliflower. If you think you might have 'em, swab the area with vinegar. If the bumps turn white, you probably do. The sneaky kind of HPV is found with a pap smear (men are just carriers), and with the innocuous varieties Well, there's really no way to tell if you've got it. Have a nice day!
Treatment: Suppression medicines, professional freezing of warts, or topical cremes. A vaccine for the cancer-causing HPV is being developed, but no cure, so infected women should get bi-yearly pap smears. HPV may leave the body after a number of years, but this is not determined for sure.
Trichomonas, Vaginalis, Protozoan
The Word: A lot like a yeast infection, this is a one-celled organism, transmitted sexually, shows up within a month of transmission, and is preventable with a condom.
Self-Diagnosis: Also called vaginitis, it causes redness, itching, burning, and a green, foamy discharge in the female genitalia, and--of course--nothing in men.
The Lowdown: While you mightn't think it, syphilis does still exist. And while Portland has relatively low occurrences, other, larger metropolitan cities do see their fair share.
Self-diagnosis: If a painless crater sore pops up in your swimsuit area, be concerned. If you choose to ignore the sore, and, a month later, a rash on the palms of your hands and soles of the feet says, "You have syphilis, you idiot," be very concerned. GO TO THE DOCTOR--otherwise brain damage, paralysis, and death ensue.
The Happs: These two STD friends go together because they're the coolest STDs to contract. I'm sure you've heard it said before: "Yes!!! I've got the clap." These bacterial infections are quite common, although show few symptoms and can, therefore, sneakily fuck your shit up. If you're having unprotected sex with anyone who is shady or slutty or slept with anyone besides you, get tested.
Self-Diagnosis: Women: Usually no symptoms, but abdominal pain, discharge or bleeding after sex are bad. Men: painful urination or penile discharge.
Treatment: Antibiotics, yo. In a week, you're good as new.
Hepatitis B, Virus
The Dirt: For alcoholics, Hepatitis B is a serious bummer, because it attacks your liver, giving you cirrhosis or cancer, and possibly leading to death. For casual drinkers, it's a pain in the ass, too.
Self-Diagnosis: Did you have unprotected sex? Do you have flu symptoms? Is your skin yellowing? Is your urine dark brown? Do you have abdominal pain?
Treatment: If you're smart, you'll stop any disease you can with a preventative vaccine, and there's a fail-safe one for Hepatitis B. If you haven't gotten it yet, (the disease or the vaccine), make an appointment right now, because no cure exists.
Thanks and a tip o' the hat to the Westover Clinic for providing some of the above information.