Sexually Transmitted Disease

What is an STD?

STD is short for ‘Sexually Transmitted Disease’. It is sometimes called venereal disease. It is an illness that you can contract through safe and unsafe sex.

STDs are caused by different kinds of viruses or bacteria that mostly enter the body through mucous membranes such as the vagina, penis, anus and the inside of the mouth. This usually happens during sexual contact, but some STDs such as HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B can also be transmitted through other means. These could include the usage of needles for piercings, tattoos or drug use that are not thoroughly cleaned.

How do you recognise an STD?

You can have an STD without having any related symptoms, but you often do notice something. Symptoms may include warts, blisters or wounds on the penis, vagina, anus or in the mouth. Or they may include pain when urinating or liquid emerging from the vagina or penis.
Most STDs can be treated with medicines, but some STDs stay in the patient forever.

What kind of STDs are there?

When we suspect an STD, we usually think about the most common infections. These are: 

Less common STDs are syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV. A little known and not usually tested STD that does occur is mycoplasma genitalium.

Below is a brief description of each STD and the potential dangers and risks associated with them.

Chlamydia trachomatis

Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common STD in the Netherlands. There are often no symptoms, and it usually occurs among women. Condoms rarely give enough protection against this STD.
Complaints are often atypical: pain in the underbelly, vaginal or urinary tract discharge, itchy and irritated urinary tract, pain in the last part of the urethra.
Please note! Any kind of sexual contact (oral, vaginal and anal) may lead to infection

The dangers of Chlamydia include the following: 
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) a serious infection of the lesser pelvis.
Pelvic inflammatory disease in an extreme infection with abscess formation in the lesser pelvis. If it is not treated, it may lead to serious organ damage in the lesser pelvis. This disorder is a medical emergency.
In women, the infection affects the reproductive organs such as the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes that facilitate the transport of the eggs. This may lead to irreversible infertility.
In men, the potential dangers are the narrowing of the urethra and/or chronic prostate inflammation.
Unwanted infertility caused by the infection of the reproductive organs. This applies to both men and women.

Genital warts

An infection with the Humaan Papilloma Virus can cause warts around the external genitalia (vagina, anus, penis and scrotum). Importantly, the infection is not always caused by sexual contact! 

How do you recognise genital warts? The warts may sometimes resemble a cauliflower. But they do not always need to have a similar shape. Warts may sometimes be atypical and flat in shape and outline. It can only be diagnosed clinically. Urologists and trained physicians are often able to recognise warts.

An important fact is that there are many different types of HPV – more than 100!!

The dangers of genital warts (HPV) include the following.
Doctors primarily look for HPV type 6 and 11. These cause genital warts and are the most dangerous as they could allow cancer to occur and cause infertility.
About 70% of cases of cervical cancer are directly associated with HPV infections. As men are carriers of types 16 and 18 – the most dangerous types – men play an important role here.


Gonorrhoea is a highly infectious disease that is often transmitted sexually. The infection is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria that spreads through the mucous membrane of the vagina, urethra, anus and oral cavity. Any type of mucous membrane contact may result in infection. The infection can even be transmitted through sex accessories and/or toys or an infected finger! You can, as it were, transport the bacteria from mucous membrane to mucous membrane on your fingers.

What you should look out for: pus discharge (often among men) from the urinary tract with a burning feeling in the urinary tract, pain when urinating. It is also known as the clap.
The disease is much less clear and distinctive among women.

The dangers of Gonorrhoea include the following:
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) a serious infection of the lesser pelvis among women.
For men, the danger lies in an inflammation of the epididymis which causes infertility.
Unwanted infertility caused by the infection of the reproductive organs. This applies to both men and women.


Herpes infection with the herpes simplex virus is a common STD. It is thus an STD that is caused by a virus. There is a difference between type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 is important urologically given that a cold sore can lead to an infection of the genitals.

Type 2 is the so-called genital herpes. This often causes painful burning blisters on the skin and the mucous membranes around the genitals. Other symptoms resemble flu symptoms with fever, headache and muscle ache.

It is important to understand that: “Once you get herpes, you will never be rid of it”. This is because the virus lies dormant in the nerves. If your immune system is weakened, for example through stress, the virus may flare up again and reactivate.

Symptoms may return if you have a so-called Herpes attack, and you may get blisters again. Herpes  is highly infectious and transmissible, especially if you have blisters. If you do not have blisters or symptoms you are not very infectious, but, morally, you should inform your sexual partner.

If you do have blisters, the lab can take a sample for a culture and/or do a blood test to check for antibodies which will show the presence of the virus.

What is the danger of herpes?
– Herpes  infection is mostly uncomfortable, but in general is not life threatening. Blisters or sores in or on the vagina, penis or anus can be painful.

Mycoplasma genitalium

Mycoplasma genitalium is relatively unknown and causes urinary tract complaints (urethritis) such as itch, pain when urinating and in the urethra, pain in the testicles and underbelly, discharge through the urinary tract, vaginal discharge, and an unpleasant smell in the urine.

Mycoplasma is not tested as a matter of course. It is sometimes tested if the symptoms do not disappear and the patient does not have chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Despite being less well known, Dutch research has shown that 4.5% of the tested research group tested positive for Mycoplasma.

What is the danger of mycoplasma genitalium?  
Unwanted infertility caused by the infection of the reproductive organs. This mostly occurs in women, and to a lesser degree in men.


Syphilis is a serious STD that is caused by the Treponema pallidum bacteria. The chance of infection after sexual contact with an infected person is 30%-40%.

Syphilis is the chameleon among STDs. This is because it can present itself in several different ways. If it is not treated properly, syphilis can present in other organs.

Syphilis has different stages.

Stage 1 About 2 weeks after infection with syphilis (a period of 10 weeks).
A sore may appear on the penis or on the vagina’s mucous membrane. The sore is red and has hard edges and is often not painful. There may sometimes be swollen lymph glands in the groin. These are painless swellings under the skin that can easily be felt during an examination.

Stage 2 About 3 weeks after the sores have emerged.
This starts 3 to 8 weeks after the sore emerges (a period of 10 weeks). The symptoms of the second phase: skin disorders in the upper body/torso, arms and shoulders. Swelling around the genitals: penis, vagina, anus with a layer of protein on top. Flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle ache and general malaise. Other symptoms may include hair loss, eye infection and blurred vision.

Stage 3 A much later stage. The disease can show the symptoms of its last stage 10, 20 or even 30 years after lying dormant, often involving the brains or meninges (neurosyphilis). It is important to note that a syphilis infection can affect almost all the organs.

What is the danger of syphilis?
Syphilis is a more serious disease than the other STDs. One or more sores emerge on the place of infection. This can be the penis, vagina, anus or mouth. The lymph glands close to the sore (groin, neck) can swell up. 

If the syphilis is not treated, you can still get sick from it even after years of being symptom free. There may be serious damage to the brain (neurosyphilis) or the heart if syphilis is not treated. This can even be fatal in serious cases.

Where and when can you be tested?

If you think that you may have an STD, you should have yourself tested. This is not only for yourself, but also so that you can inform others and prevent other people from being infected.

If you have symptoms that could be related to an STD, you can have yourself tested right away. If you do not have any symptoms but suspect that you may be infected, it is best to wait 3 weeks after the possible infection before having yourself tested. This is because this is the average period in which an STD test can show an infection.

You can have yourself tested by your general practitioner, the GGD (Community Health Services) or by a specialist such as OneDayClinic.

  • If you go to your general practitioner, the cost of the STD test will be paid for by your own risk in your health insurance.
  • At the GGD the STD test is free, but you need to meet certain conditions.  Only people who run a greater risk of contracting an STD may be tested. See the website of SOA Aids Nederland for the conditions. SOA Aids Nederland.
  • OneDayClinic is the only recognised private clinic that specialises in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. It is also the only private clinic that is recognised by SOA Aids Nederland.
    Anyone can go there for a fast, anonymous and affordable STD test. The results are known within 2 hours.
    OneDayClinic works with Reinier Haga MDC, an expert laboratory that is ISO certified, and with BIG registered doctors. Any treatment done by OneDayClinic do not fall under healthcare insurance.