Below are some of the most important and generally understood facts of sexually transmitted infections and diseases. STIs may not be the most fun topic on the Internet, but it’s crucially important to understand their effects, symptoms and facts for anyone who may be at risk. What are STIs? How do they spread? What causes STIs? This is what Panhandle OBGYN is here to help you understand.

What are sexually transmitted infections?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are spread by means of sexual contact. In some cases STIs can cause serious medical implications, and even death. With the exceptions of colds and flu, STIs are the most common contagious infections in the United States, with millions of new cases each year.

How do STIs spread?

An STI carrier can pass the infection to others by contact with skin, genitals, mouth, rectum or body fluids. Any sexual contact with an STI carrier can result in the spread of the infection. Some STIs have no short-term symptoms, but your health can still be affected.

What causes STIs?

STIs are caused by bacterial or viral infections. STIs caused by bacteria are treated withantibiotics. Those caused by viruses cannot be cured, but symptoms can be treated.

What makes a person a high risk of getting STIs?

The following factors increase the risk of getting STIs:

  • Multiple sexual partners
  • A partner who has had multiple sexual partners
  • Sexual contact with an STI carrier
  • History of STIs
  • Use of intravenous drugs or partner use of intravenous drugs

Statistically, adolescents have a higher infection rate than adults.

What are some of the most common STIs?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Genital herpes
  • Testing for Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Trichomoniasis

How can I reduce the risk of getting an STI?

  • Be aware of your and your sexual partners history. Your partner’s sexual history is nearly as important as your own. The more partners you or your partners have, the higher your risk of getting an STI.
  • Use a latex condom. Using a latex condom during vaginal, oral or anal sex decreases the risk of infection. Condoms lubricated with spermicides do not offer extra protection. Frequent use of some spermicides can increase the risk of HIV.
  • Avoid risky behavior. Sexual acts that tear or break the skin raise the chances of getting an STI. For example, Anal sex poses a high risk because rectal tissues tear easily. Bodily fluids also carry STIs. Having any unprotected sexual contact with an infected person poses a high risk of getting an STI.
  • Get immunized. Vaccinations are available to help prevent Hepatitis B and some types of HPV

How can STIs affect pregnancy?

An STI can harm a baby during pregnancy. Gonorrhea and chlamydia both can cause health problems in the infant ranging from eye infections to pneumonia. Syphilis may cause miscarriage or stillbirth. Human immunodeficiency virus infection can occur in a baby.

If you are pregnant and you or your partner have had or may have an STI, inform your doctor at first opportunity. Your baby may be at risk. Tests for some STIs are offered routinely during prenatal care. It is best to treat the STI early to decrease the chances that your baby also will contract the infection. Both you and your partner may need to be treated.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

(Source: American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)