What Women Need to Know About STDs
The prospect of contracting or living with a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, is frightening. Despite medical and social advancements, there can still be a stigma attached to these diseases. Therefore, many STD patients are reluctant to seek help. However, the more you know and the sooner you seek treatment, the better chance you have of living a full and productive life with an STD.
Know the Common Diseases
Many STDs, such as herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, may not show their symptoms right away. If you suspect you have an STD, it’s crucial to get a test even if you haven’t shown symptoms. With that in mind, it’s also important to know the symptoms of some common STDs so you can give your doctor a full history.
Chlamydia is a bacterial STD treated with antibiotics. Both men and women can contract it through all types of sex, although it’s most common via vaginal or anal sex. One key symptom is an unusual discharge from the private area. You may also notice burning during urination. Make an appointment with your doctor three months after starting treatment for follow-up testing.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
The good news about this STD is that it’s one of the most common. Nearly every sexually active person will get it at some point, and treatments are available. All types of sex as well as skin-to-skin contact can transmit HPV. Although the virus is associated with cervical and other cancers, that is the worst-case scenario. Most HPV symptoms are harmless, and annual Pap smears and pelvic exams can help your doctor catch cancer early. HPV may cause mouth infections or genital warts, too, so be sure to have those treated early.
Genital herpes is also common, mostly because skin-to-skin contact can transmit it. Those who have blisters are most likely to pass the virus to partners or others. There is no cure for herpes, but medication can manage it.
AIDS and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the most common disease people think of when they hear “STD.” It’s also the most stigmatized, but HIV is not a death sentence. Medical advancements mean there are hundreds of new medications available to treat HIV. If you do develop AIDS, you can have years of a full, rich life with the disease. You must work with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you. The only sure way to determine if you have HIV is to get your blood tested regularly, especially if you are sexually active often.
STDs do not mean you are promiscuous or irresponsible. They simply mean your body has responded to bacteria or a virus. Reach out for help and learn all you can. For additional questions, please contact Women’s Medical Associates of Nashville.