4 Things You Should Know About STDs

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs) Awareness Month, which places an emphasis on raising awareness and providing education about sexually transmitted diseases and their consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 20 million new STI cases in the United States every year, which is equal to an estimated 110 million total STIs among the American population. 

STD Awareness Month

Specifically for women, sexually transmitted diseases can pose a serious risk to reproductive health if left untreated. Here at Kernodle OB/GYN, we urge all women who are sexually active to be educated on the possible consequences of STDs and to get tested regularly. To help raise awareness this month, we have compiled a list of four things everyone should know about STDs.   

  1. There Are Over 20 Known STDs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are infections that spread during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Some STDs are more common than others, but there are over 20 known STDs, including but not limited to

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Genital herpes
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Pubic lice (Crabs)
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

STDs are 100% preventable through abstinence. However, for those who are sexually active, there are many ways you can decrease the likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. One of the most effective ways to avoid STDs is by using a condom every time you have sex.  

  1. Your STD May Not Have Any Symptoms 

Many STDs often present with no symptoms at all. This means that you could have an infection and not know it. For example, chlamydia has coined the term “silent” infection, as it is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in women under 25, yet most people never experience any symptoms at all. However, if you do experience symptoms, some of the most common include

  • Sores or bumps on the genitals
  • Pain during sex
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Painful or burning urination

These symptoms do not automatically indicate you have an STD. However, if you experience any of the symptoms above, it is highly recommended you visit a healthcare provider to get tested. 

  1. Oral Sex Can Spread STDs

A common misconception about STDs is they can only spread through vaginal or anal sex. However, many infections can be passed on through oral sex. STIs that are commonly caught through oral sex include gonorrhea, genital herpes, syphilis, and HPV. Infections that are less likely to catch through oral sex include chlamydia, HIV, genital warts, and crabs. 

  1. STDs Can Lead To Serious Health Problems

If left untreated, sexually transmitted diseases can lead to serious long-term health problems. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, complications that can arise if left untreated include

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Infertility
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Cervical cancer
  • Congenital infections in infants born to infected mothers

The possibility of health problems associated with untreated STDs, along with the fact that some STDs cause no symptoms at all, make it crucial to get tested. 

The best way to combat the growing epidemic of STDs in America is to offer education to all. If you have any questions about getting screened for STDs, talk to your women’s healthcare provider. They can help you determine which screenings you need to get and when. Here at Kernodle OB/GYN, we provide full-scope individualized women’s health care, including gynecological care, midwifery services, and low- and high-risk maternity care for women and their families. Visit our website or give us a call for more information.

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