April is STD awareness month, and we’d like to take the opportunity to emphasize the impact STDs have in the United States. Sexually transmitting diseases are not only on the rise in the U.S.; they’ve reached crisis levels, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2017, a record 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed. The rapid and sustained rise in STDs has a multitude of health implications. Getting tested is the only way to know if you have an STD. Regular testing and treatment are key to reducing disease and complications such as infertility.
Scheduling regular well visits with your gynecologist is a major part of preventive health for women. All women should be tested for STDs as part of their annual well-woman visit. The experts at The Center for Women’s Health may recommend more frequent testing if you have certain risk factors.
Arming yourself with knowledge is the first step to reducing your risk of STDs. Our team want you to know five facts about STDs of which you may be unaware.
Fact #1: STDs affect women differently than men.
There are various reasons why women are impacted by STDs differently than men. For instance, the thin lining of the vagina makes it easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate, placing women at a unique risk for STDs.
Women who are pregnant can pass STDs, such as genital herpes, syphilis, and HIV to their babies during pregnancy and delivery. STDs in pregnant women can also cause low birth weight and stillbirth.
Certain STDs, such as human papillomavirus, can cause cancer in women. HPV is responsible for most cases of cervical cancer in women.
Fact #2: Women are less likely to show symptoms of common STDs.
It’s crucial to see your doctor for regular testing if you’re sexually active. That’s because, compared to men, women are less likely to show symptoms of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other common STDs. You could be infected with an STD and not know it.
Common STDs can cause symptoms, such as smelly discharge and pain during urination. However, many women have no symptoms or symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed or are mistaken for something else, such as a yeast infection.
Fact #3: STDs can impact your reproductive future.
Left untreated, STDs can have a serious impact on a woman’s reproductive health. Most STDs don’t go away on their own. Without treatment, STDs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition that can negatively impact your chances of becoming pregnant and lead to ectopic pregnancy if you do become pregnant. You should always see your doctor if you notice changes in your reproductive system or are at risk of contracting an STD.
Fact #4: You can still transmit disease even when you are symptom-free.
Certain STDs, such as herpes, cause tell-tale symptoms or are characterized by noticeable outbreaks. During a herpes outbreak, for example, you’re actively shedding the virus, making you more contagious during this time.
Some women mistakenly believe that they aren’t contagious when they aren’t having symptoms or are between outbreaks.
However, even between outbreaks or when you don’t have symptoms, you’re still contagious and can infect a partner. If you’re diagnosed with an STD, talk to your doctor about how to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to your partner.
Fact #5: You don’t have to have sex to contract an STD.
You can contract an STD, even without having sex. Pubic lice and trichomonas vaginalis are parasites that cause sexually transmitted infections. They can live on sheets, towels, and other garments. This means that you can contract certain STDs without having sex. It’s advised that you avoid sharing towels with an infected person.
No one enjoys discussing STDs, but they’re a fact of life. It’s wise to learn essential facts and schedule regular check-ups. For more information and to schedule an appointment call Newport News and Hampton, Virginia office, or book online at your convenience.