Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are caused by infections that are passed between partners during sexual contact. The term sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is used to describe the infection prior to it becoming a disease. More than half of all adults will get an STD at some point in their lives, so it is important to get screened if you believe you are at risk.
It’s also important to know that some STIs and STDs have no obvious symptoms and others only have symptoms in their later stages. Therefore, if you are concerned you may have put yourself at risk, please come see us as soon as possible. STIs are highly contagious and can get worse, but many can be treated if caught early.
Recognize the Symptoms
Many STDs have similar signs and symptoms, however there are some differences. Review these descriptions to learn more about these diseases.
- Chlamydia: If you have chlamydia, you may have an abnormal vaginal discharge and notice an odor as well as bleeding between periods. Chlamydia can be treated with an antibiotic, but both partners must be treated or re-infection will likely occur.
- Genital Herpes: Like other common STIs, genital herpes can go unnoticed because many times there are no symptoms. When there are symptoms, such as blisters, sores and genital pain, they can be quite severe.
- Gonorrhea: If you experience painful urination or an abnormal discharge from your vagina, it could be gonorrhea. If not treated, this disease can cause infertility.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): Most women are unaware they have HPV unless they have an abnormal pap smear. HPV can cause cancer, so it is important to take steps to prevent it such as practicing safe sex. There is also a vaccine that can protect against HPV.
- Syphilis: Syphilis begins with a painless sore, then a few weeks or months later, transitions into an itchy rash that can flare up anywhere on the body. It is a very serious disease and can eventually affect your internal organs. If detected early penicillin and other medications can effectively treat it.
At Your Screening
During your screening, your physician may need to take a urine or blood sample in order to conduct other tests to help determine if you have an STD. You should be aware that healthcare providers are required by law to keep your health information private, and this includes test results for STDs.