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Sexually Transmitted Diseases & Treatments (STDs & STIs)

An STD, or STI, is a severe condition contracted after unprotected sex and can cause damage to a women’s reproductive system. Itching and burning in the genital area are common STD symptoms. STD treatment (usual antibiotics) can treat the disease. All STDs can be treated, but not all STDs may be cured. When having sex, having your partner use a condom correctly will help significantly with your physical health.

If you are curious about the numbers, this article on STDs will shed some critical light on the subject here in Iowa and world numbers from the WHO are staggering. What’s important to know is that there are more than 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites transmitted through sexual contact. Eight of these pathogens are linked to the greatest incidence of sexually transmitted disease. Of these, 4 are currently curable: syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. The other 4 are viral infections which are incurable: hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes), HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV). Incurable, but treatments are very effective when caught or through the aid of a vaccine for some.

Who is at the most significant risk of contracting an STD?

An STD is possible for anyone sexually active. The risk of contracting an STD is increased when using drugs and other substances that impair your decision-making abilities. In addition, STDs can be spread by sharing needles.

The risk is also increased by secrecy about sexuality. People who feel shame or embarrassment about STDs might be less likely than others to seek treatment. People may be reluctant to disclose that they have an STD. People will continue to spread STDs to others if they don’t get treatment. It is crucial to be open about your symptoms, sexual history, and health for you and your partner.

What is the prevalence of STDs?

Around 20 million STDs are diagnosed each year. Half of these infections affect people between the ages of 15 and 24. The most common STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus, and syphilis.

What is expedited partner therapy?

EPT (expedited partner treatment) is when your healthcare provider issues a prescription to your partner for you without you having to examine the partner if you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or any other condition. The healthcare provider will usually wait to read a patient before giving a prescription. However, if you have an STD, your partner likely has it too and encourages the chance of reinfection.

STDs SYMPTOMS & CAUSES

What causes an STD

STDs are caused by infections from various bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These microorganisms can be transmitted to others through bodily fluids, usually during sexual activity (typically vaginal or oral sex). STDs such as syphilis may be passed to unborn children.

Infected blood may contain some STDs. In addition, STDs can be passed to others who have ingested infected drugs.

What are STD symptoms?

There may not be any symptoms of an STD. However, if you are sexually active, get tested frequently. It is possible to have an STD and pass it on without knowing. For people under 25 years old, the CDC recommends a chlamydia and gonorrhea screening.

If symptoms are present, they could include:

Genital symptoms (Some patients may not be aware of the condition.)

  • Bumps, sores, or warts near or on the penis, vaginal, mouth, or anus.
  • Itching, swelling, or redness of the vagina.
  • A foul odor, irritation, or a vaginal discharge.
  • You may have vaginal bleeding.
  • Painful sex.

Other symptoms:

  • Skin rash.
  • Weight loss, diarrhea, night sweats.
  • Aches, pains, and fever.
  • Jaundice – is a yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • Frequent or painful urination.

Are STDs contagious?

Yes, STDs are very contagious. It is essential to get immediate treatment from a licensed healthcare provider. You can resume your sexual life once the STD is gone.

It’s not necessary to worry about getting an STD from casual contact. For example, STDs are not caused by sharing a bathroom or shaking hands.

STDs DIAGNOSIS and TESTS

What is the best way to know if you have an STD?

It is possible to experience uncomfortable symptoms such as genital burning, itching, or discharge.

Notify a healthcare provider that you believe you may have an STD. Don’t be afraid! We talk to many women daily who have these questions and concerns. IWHC will examine you and determine if you have an STD. Your symptoms and your sexual history will be asked. Please be honest so that we can provide the best possible care.

Do not delay in seeing a provider. Delaying treatment for STIs can lead to further tissue and even organ damage. Reduce the risk of spreading the disease if you are unsure you may be infected. Testing can be done immediately so there’s no reason not to.

We can help you stay healthy. Give us a call.

What are STD tests for infections?

The type of STD you have will determine the type of STD test you require. Talk to your provider about the tests you need. The following are the types of STD testing:

  • Urine test
  • Swab your cheeks.
  • Blood test.
  • Examine your genital region.
  • Test a fluid sample taken from sores.
  • Test your body for discharges or cell samples (vaginal, urethra).

An STD diagnosis can make people feel ashamed or embarrassed. However, STDs are something that can happen to anyone. Millions of people have them. Most people will experience an STD at some point in their lives. For support, reach out to a friend or loved one if you feel anxious or stressed about the STD diagnosis.

STDs MANAGEMENT & TREATMENT

What are the treatment options for STDs

Antibiotics are available to treat many STDs. These medications can be taken by mouth or as a shot.

What is the time frame in which symptoms of an STD will disappear?

Within days, you should feel better if your provider prescribes antibiotics for an STD. However, make sure you take all your prescribed medication and don’t share your medicine with anyone; uncompleted prescriptions can lead to the STD coming back and even more challenging to fight.

Is it possible to cure STDs?

Many STDs can be treated. Some STDs, such as HIV, need to be treated for life. If you engage in risky sexual behaviors (multiple partners, non-use condoms), you could be re-infected.

What happens if I have an STD and I am pregnant?

Talk to your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant. They can discuss the best treatment options for you and your baby.

What is expedited therapy for partner therapy?

EPT (expedited partner treatment) is when your healthcare provider issues a prescription to your partner for you without you having to examine your partner if you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or any other condition. The healthcare provider will usually wait to read a patient before giving a prescription. However, if you have an STD, your partner likely has it too. This will prevent reinfection and stop any further transmission.

 

STDs PREVENTION

What can I do to protect myself against STIs?

Only abstaining (or not having sex) will protect you from STIs. However, if you choose to be sexually active, consider the below options:

  • When you are having any sex, use a condom. Latex condoms are significant for those who have multiple partners. Only have sex with one person or limit the number of partners. Every new partner increases your chance of getting an STI.
  • Avoid sex with someone you don’t know or trust.
  • Have your reproductive health checked regularly, which helps prevent the spread of the infection to others. Before you have sex with anyone new, make sure to get tested.
  • Limit drinking or drug use, for they may hinder your decision-making abilities.
  • Know the symptoms and signs of STIs. If you notice symptoms, get treatment quickly.
  • Educate yourself on STIs. You can be more protective of yourself and your partner if you are well-informed.

How can I stop others from getting an STD if I have one?

Protect yourself and others by taking these steps:

  • You should not have sex with anyone until a healthcare provider sees you. If your healthcare provider agrees, you can resume sex.
  • Follow the instructions of your healthcare provider for treatment.
  • To have your condition rechecked, visit your healthcare provider.
  • Make sure that your sex partner receives treatment, too.
  • Condoms are a must for all sexual encounters, especially when you’re with new partners.

Who should be tested for HIV?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone aged 13-64 be tested for HIV regularly. National guidelines recommend that screenings be done up to the age of 75. HIV infection rates are higher in seniors. The CDC recommends that you get HIV testing if you have ever had treatment for STDs.

Do I need the HPV vaccine?

The human papillomavirus is the most prevalent viral STI in the United States. Some people may not have symptoms, while others may develop bumps and warts around their genitals. High-risk HPV can cause cervical cancer.

There is a vaccine that can prevent HPV and genital warts. It is recommended that children between the ages of 11 and 12 receive it because it works best before becoming sexually active. The HPV vaccine is recommended for anyone up to the age of 26. However, the latest information suggests that people aged 45 may also benefit from it. Discuss the possibility with your healthcare provider.

How often should I be tested for STD/STI?

Screening should be done annually for anyone younger than 25 years. Regular testing can help you detect and treat STDs that you might not be aware of. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best testing schedule for you. Some providers recommend that you have sex with a new partner at least once a year.

STDs OUTLOOK/PROGNOSIS

What is the outlook for those with STDs?

Most STDs and STIs disappear after treatment. However, some may need to be managed with medication for the rest of their lives.

Are STDs a cause of complications?

If left untreated, STDs can lead to lifelong complications. If left untreated, HIV can cause AIDS, which can prove fatal. Syphilis, if not treated, can cause irreversible damage to your nervous system and organs. It can also infect unborn children. These diseases are treatable and preventable.

STD complications in women can lead to:

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Ectopic pregnancy.
  • Infertility.
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain.

Untreated STDs in men may lead to:

  • Infections of the urethra
  • Swollen, sore testicles.
  • Infertility.

LIVING WITH STDs

What can I do to take care of my STD?

  • Take steps to stay healthy if you have been diagnosed with an STD by your healthcare provider.
  • As directed by your doctor, take all prescribed medication.
  • You shouldn’t have sex while receiving STD treatment. Wait until you get the OK from your healthcare provider.
  • Inform your partner(s) about your STD to let them know to discuss treatment options with their healthcare provider.
  • If you resume having sex with someone, make sure you use a condom.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  • What can I do to prevent STDs and STIs?
  • Is there any chance that the STD will cause future complications?
  • Do I need to be checked for STDs regularly?
  • Do my partners need to be screened?
  • What kind of treatment is best?

Iowa Women’s Health Center:

STDs and STIs are widespread. Talk to your healthcare provider if you feel discomfort in your genitals or itching. Most cases of STD are easily treated and do not cause long-term complications. However, you may require lifelong medication in some cases, such as HIV or HSV. Always remember that STDs can be significantly reduced by using a condom if you are sexually active.

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IWHC is an advanced women's health clinic located in Cedar Rapids, IA. We service all women through central Iowa and in neighboring states for progressive gynecological care. We provide the latest and least invasive medicine throughout Linn County.

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