No one enjoys discussing STDs, but if you are an adult having sex, or you are a parent, it would be wise to learn some essential facts about STDs that everyone should know.
STDs are a fact of life and an increasing number of cases are occurring each day in the United States and worldwide. The more you know, the more you can protect yourself and your family.
There Are 25 Known STDs
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic, and the disease can be transmitted via semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and skin to skin contact. Some of the most common STDs include:
- Hepatitis B
- genital herpes
- pubic lice (crabs)
Some STDs Are Treatable, Others Can Only Be Managed
Not all STDs are curable!
Bacterial infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be cured with antibiotics. Other diseases can only be managed and not permanently cured like those that come from a virus like herpes, hepatitis B, HIV, and genital warts (HPV).
STDs Among Older Adults Is on the Rise
Many older, divorced adults are encountering new sexual partners. This increases the potential for acquiring an STD. Talk with your new partner about this, use protection, and both should get tested to lessen the risk for you both.
Some STDs Have No Symptoms
Chlamydia comes from the Greek meaning “cloak,” because there are no noticeable symptoms, and women are especially vulnerable. Neither partner may be aware they have certain STDs until the infection is too far along to be treated.
In fact, it may take up to ten years for the symptoms of HIV to present themselves. Certain symptoms of STDs mimic other infections like urinary tract and yeast infections.
Untreated sexually transmitted diseases can lead to serious health consequences like liver failure and cancer from Hepatitis B, heart and blood vessel damage from syphilis, and cervical cancer from HPV. Pregnant women are at a higher risk for ectopic pregnancy, premature delivery, and passing an STD on to the baby.
Getting screened and tested regularly for STDs is the only way to know conclusively if you have or don’t have an infection.
It Is Easier for a Woman to Become Infected with an STD
Due to the female anatomy not only is it easier for a woman to become infected with an STD than a man, but the consequences can also be far more serious.
The bacteria that causes syphilis can be passed on to children through the placenta which results in life-threatening congenital syphilis for the child. Genital herpes can be passed on to the child during delivery, and if left untreated, herpes in an infant can be fatal. In addition, chlamydia can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes causing inflammatory pelvic disease and possible infertility.
Oral Sex Does Not Protect You From an STD
This may be a surprise to many. Always use a condom or a dental dam to protect yourself. Without protection, you are at risk for Hepatitis B, gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes, and especially with a new partner.
Many People Will Have HPV in Their Lifetime
There are 40 strains of the STD human papillomavirus or HPV which is incurable and may lead to a number of cancers. This infection is widespread, but the good news is that there is a vaccine to protect the next generation of children and teens.
You can protect your son or daughter by having them vaccinated at age 11 or 12, or before they become sexually active. There are a series of shots over a six month period. The vaccine is inactive so it cannot cause HPV, and it protects against many of the strains that cause cancer.
Talk to Birmingham Obstetrics & Gynecology if you have questions about the HPV vaccine or want to be tested for an STD.