Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) are infections that are spread by sexual contact. Except for colds and flu, STDs are the most common contagious (easily spread) diseases in the United States, with millions of new cases of STD’s each year. Although some STDs can be treated and cured, others cannot. Prevention is key to fighting STDs. By knowing the facts, you can take steps to protect your health.

About Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Anyone who has vaginal, anal or oral sex with another person may get and STD. People with an STD may not know they have it. Often there are no symptoms. But that does not mean that it is not affecting your health. STDs can cause severe damage to your body- even death. Even if there are no symptoms, a person with an STD can pass it to others by contact with skin, genitals, mouth, rectum or body fluids. Symptoms of an STD can range from mild irritation to severe pain. Often, symptoms occur only if the disease becomes more advanced. In most cases, the long-term health problems can be avoided by early treatment.

STDs are caused by bacterial or viral infections. STDs caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics. Those caused by viruses cannot be cured, but symptoms can be treated.

Anyone who is sexually active can be exposed to an STD. Even if there are no symptoms, tests can be done to diagnose infection.

Gonorrhea And Chlamydia

Many women and men with gonorrhea and chlamydia have few or no symptoms. If symptoms do appear, however, they may appear from 2 days to 3 weeks after contact with an infected person. Symptoms may include:

  • A discharge from a woman’s vagina or a man’s penis
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Pain in the pelvis or abdomen
  • Burning or itching in the vaginal area
  • Redness or swelling of the vulva
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods

Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. PID is an infection of the uterus fallopian tubes and ovaries. It is a common cause of infertility. Symptoms of PID are fever, nausea and vomiting, and pain in the abdomen. It can lead to long-term pelvic pain.

Human Papillomavirus

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common STDs in the United States. More than 100 types of this virus have been identified. Some types are spread from person to person through sexual contact. Like many STD’s, there are often no signs of genital HPV. However, a few types of HPV cause warts. For women, these warts can appear on the vulva, vagina, cervix and anus. For men, they can appear on the penis, scrotum, anus or anywhere else in the genital area. Sometimes warts go away on their own. If they don’t there are several treatments for warts available. However, over-the-counter wart medications should never be used on genital warts.

Even after the warts have cleared up, the virus may be present. The virus ca remain in the body for weeks or years without showing any symptoms. Some types of HPV are linked to cancer in both men and women. Certain types are known to be a major cause of cancer of the cervix. However, very few women with HPV develop this type of cancer. Cancer of the cervix can be prevented with early detection and treatment. HPV also may be linked to cancer of the anus, vulva, vagina and penis.

Finally…

Every woman should know how to protect herself and her partners from STDs. If you think you have an STD, seek medical treatment to avoid long-term health problems. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment.