Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) also known as sexually transmitted infections, are diseases that spread or transmit from one person to another mainly through sexual contact. This contact can be vaginal, anal, or oral.
There are more than 20 types of STDs. The most common one is HPV which is highly prevalent in the United States and can cause genital warts. Other relatively common types of STD include syphilis, hepatitis, herpes, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and HIV. STDs are really common and sometimes people may not even exhibit symptoms even if they have contracted an STD. If not looked after, it can also lead to serious health concerns that’s why it is very important to get tested for STD.
STDs are rising in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention, the United States is among the countries that have the highest STD rates. In 2019 alone, there were about 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea & syphilis. STD cases have been increasing rapidly. Since 2015 there has been a 30% increase in overall cases.
HPV is so common in the United States that nearly all sexually active people get it at some point in their lives. The other prevailing STDs in the United States as of 2019 include chlamydia which affects about 1.81 million people, gonorrhea affects about 616,000 people and about 129,000 people are affected by syphilis.
The prevalence of STDs in the United States is dangerously alarming. This impacts when should a person get tested for STDs and how often should a person get tested for STDs.
Virgins can have STDs as well
Even if both males and females, have never had sex they can still have STD. STD can be contracted via other sexual activities. An individual can contract HIV, hepatitis, or herpes through ways other than sex. These ways of contraction include kissing a loved one, sharing food with someone who already is infected by STD, borrowing unclean towels or razors, and conducting an oral. HPVs and syphilis can even be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact if there is an STD rash or sore present on the body. So even if you are a virgin but are intimately active in other ways, get tested for STD.
Knowing is better than worrying
If you are sexually active or have had sex recently, given the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, it’s better to get tested for STD. If you are exhibiting any kind of symptoms associated with STD like itching or discomfort near the genital area or bleeding during intercourse, you should see your doctor immediately.
Being blissfully unaware about this can lead to some major health concerns. Some of the health problems that can arise from STDs include cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal or ectopic pregnancy, and perinatal infections in infants born to mothers who had STD.
After getting tested even if you have STD, you can continue to have a normal healthy sex life given you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and the people around you.
Condoms aren’t fully reliable
It’s a very known fact that condoms are not a hundred percent effective in preventing pregnancy so obviously they can’t fully protect a person against STDs aswell. It does reduce the risk of transmission that too by not a hundred percent. It can only be effective if it is used properly. It should cover all the infected areas and sores. Using a latex condom while having sex is suggested by many doctors.
But condoms can break and can fall apart so a person who is infected must take other precautionary measures while indulging in any sort of sexual activity.
Most STDs are treatable
Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis are all curable STDs. They can be treated and cured using antibiotics and antiviral medications. Antibiotics can cure many sexually transmitted bacterial and parasitic infections. Antiviral medications are suggested to people infected with HIV or Herpes to curb their symptoms although it’s important to note these medications can’t cure STDs like herpes, HIV, and hepatitis completely but with the right medications and precautions these diseases can be managed.
If left untreated, STDs can lead to infertility
Sexually transmitted diseases can affect a woman’s ability to have kids. Even a person is not exhibiting symptoms of STD and has an asymptomatic infection if it is left untreated it can cause an episode of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which is a leading cause of preventable infertility. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the two STDs that can lead to infertility. They are also two of the most prevailing reasons for preventable infertility in the United States.
Early diagnosis less medical complications
It’s better to get tested for STDs as soon as possible and get preventative care. If you are someone who is very sexually active, get tested frequently to avoid any serious health concerns. Early STD detection and treatment can be helpful as it will stop the further spread of the disease and can be very cost-effective as well because less medication and treatment would be required to cure or treat an STD that is in its early stages. There is as yet no cure for some STDs like herpes and HIV. Many researchers are still working on a herpes vaccine and HIV cure but up till now, there hasn’t been any successful progress. Early detection and treatment can help manage these incurable diseases in a much better way.
How do I get tested for STDs?
STD testing is fairly quick and easy. Initially, your general physician will ask you multiple questions about your sexual health and will perform a safe physical examination to see what kind of tests you need to get done. Different types of lab tests are done for different types of STDs. The following are the ones commonly done to test for STDs:
– Urine Test
– Cheek Swab
– Testing the discharge from sores
– A swab to take a cell culture from the penis, vagina, urethra, cervix, anus, or throat.
You can get tested for STDs even if you are not exhibiting any symptoms. Some STDs have common symptoms so they may look and act alike. In that case, you might be tested for a few different infections.
How often should I get tested for STDs?
As mentioned earlier, how often you should get tested depends on how sexually active you are. If you have sex often get tested at least once a year. In case you have multiple sexual partners and you often indulge in unprotected sex, get tested 2-4 times every year.
Sexually transmitted diseases have become a very concerning and alarming health issue globally. The rapid increase in rates all over the world is very problematic. It’s important now more than ever that people take care of their sexual health. If you are unable to identify your condition contact your nearest primary care clinic or contact 911 for further assistance.
To ensure your sexual well-being, you must get tested for STDs. Visit our primary care physician to further learn about the risk factors attached to STDs and receive consultation on how you can manage and treat this disease.
– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.
Learn more about STD on Manhattan Medical Arts: Rising In Post Pandemic Std Rates | Std Vs Sti Key Differences | Top 7 Reasons To Get Tested For Stds | Herpes Vaccination Are We There Yet | Gonorrhea The Clap
About The AuthorDr. Syra Hanif M.D.
Board Certified Primary Care Physician
Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.Read More