Women are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) throughout life. In addition to their high prevalence in women, STIs have debilitating effects on female reproductive health due to female urogenital anatomy, socio-cultural and economic factors. In this Review, we discuss the prevalence and impact of non-HIV bacterial, viral and parasitic STIs on the reproductive and sexual health of cisgender women worldwide. We analyse factors affecting STI prevalence among transgender women and women in low-income settings, and describe the specific challenges and barriers to improved sexual health faced by these population groups. We also synthesize the latest advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of STIs.