Know More, Know How: STDs
Today, roughly 1 in 4 teens in the US becomes infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) each year.
By age 25, half of all sexually active young adults will get an STD.
Even for individuals over the age of 45, the rates of STD infections have doubled in the last decade.
Frightening? Yes. But there are ways to protect yourself, and to take care of diseases if you happen to get one.
Know this: STDs can be spread through all forms of sexual contact involving the mouth, anus, vagina, or penis. If you are sexually active, you must protect yourself. Condoms – both male and female – and dental dams are available for free at all of the Chase Brexton locations.
If you are sexually active, particularly if you’ve had unprotected sex, an STD test should be a standard part of your health care routine. When you have a new sexual partner or are entering a new sexual relationship, make this a priority.
Condom and dental dam use greatly decreases the transmission of all of the STDs below.
Know that signs and symptoms are different. Some STDs can be painful, itchy, and even unsightly, but others could easily go unnoticed, having little to no symptoms at all.
Know what they are.
Chlamydia: A common STD caused by bacteria, Chlamydia doesn’t usually cause symptoms. You may notice a burning when you urinate or see an abnormal discharge from your vagina or penis. Chlamydia can infect the urinary tract. Untreated, in women, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease which can lead to infertility or pregnancy issues. In men, Chlamydia can infect the tube that carries sperm – the epididymis. Chlamydia is cured through antibiotics.
Gonorrhea: A bacterial infection, in men, gonorrhea can cause pain when urinating and discharge from the penis. Like Chlamydia, if untreated it can infect the epididymis but, unlike Chlamydia, its infection may affect the testicles and can lead to infertility. In women, though often asymptomatic (no symptoms), gonorrhea can cause bleeding between periods, pain when urinating, and increased vaginal discharge. Untreated, gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to problems with pregnancy and infertility. Gonorrhea can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics.
Hepatitis B: A liver disease caused by a virus, hepatitis B may feel like the flu – or may have no symptoms at all. Hepatitis B usually gets better on its own after a few months. If not, it becomes chronic hepatitis B which leads to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer. Prevention is available in the form of a vaccine. The vaccine requires three staged injections.
Hepatitis C: Another liver disease caused by a virus, hepatitis C usually does not get better on its own, as hepatitis B does. Longer-term medication management and treatment are required when diagnosed with hepatitis C. Like hepatitis B, the damage to the liver can cause scarring or liver cancer. In some cases, a liver transplant may be necessary. There is no vaccine or cure for hepatitis C.
Syphilis: A bacterial infection, syphilis infects the genitals, lips, mouth, and/or anus of both men and women. In the early stage of syphilis, you may see a single, small, painless sore. You may notice swelling in nearby lymph nodes. If left untreated, syphilis usually causes a non-itchy skin rash on your hands and feet. Syphilis can go away and come back. And many people do not notice symptoms for years. Syphilis can be quite serious – even resulting in death – but is treatable with antibiotics if caught during early stages.
For more information, call 410-837-2050, ext. 1307.