Chances are, you’ve heard about STDs before. You might have heard of some of the most common ones—but unless you’ve personally dealt with a sexually transmitted disease, that’s likely the full extent of your knowledge.
Are you aware of the most common STDs among American women? Do you know what symptoms to look for, or the resources available to you? We’re dedicated to providing women with information and resources to keep them healthy and happy.
The most common curable STD is Chlamydia, a bacterial infection that usually has no symptoms, which is why screening for the infection is crucial. It spreads through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus of an infected person, and it can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth.
There are almost 3 million new cases of Chlamydia each year in the United States. An infected person can be treated with antibiotics, but can get the infection again. Without treatment, Chlamydia can cause serious health problems and infertility. Latex condoms are effective in preventing the disease.
This STD occurs when bacteria infects the lining of a woman’s reproductive tract, and can also develop in the urethra, mouth, throat, eyes and anus of both men and women. It spreads through sexual contact, and like chlamydia, can be transferred to a baby during childbirth.
People with gonorrhea often have mild or no symptoms, and treatment involves two different antibiotics. Without treatment, women are more prone to develop pelvic inflammatory disease, which increases the risk of infertility and pregnancy complications.
Trichomaniasis is the most common sexually transmitted disease among sexually active young women, with more than a million new cases in the US each year. The infection is caused by a parasite that passes from one person to another during sex, and usually develops in the genital area. In women, trich causes a vaginal infection called vaginitis.
Trichomoniasis normally doesn’t cause symptoms, but some people experience burning or itching during urination and intercourse, irregular discharge, or strong vaginal odor. The disease is usually treated with a single oral dose of metronidazole, which is also used to treat bacterial vaginosis.
It is also important that your sexual partners be treated for trich at the same time as you are (whether male or female), or else you will simply pass the disease back and forth. Those that are infected with trichomoniasis are more susceptible to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Pregnant women with trich are more likely to have a pre-term birth and a low birth weight baby.
Syphilis is an STD that can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly. Symptoms in adults are divided into stages: primary, secondary, latent, and late syphilis. The late stage can occur 10-30 years after infection.
Syphilis is typically spread by direct contact with a sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can also be spread from an infected mother to her unborn baby. Pregnant women with syphilis are also more likely to deliver their babies too early or stillborn.
Since syphilis sores can be hidden in places like the vagina, anus, and mouth, it may not be obvious that a partner is infected. Unless you know that a partner has been tested and treated, you may be at risk.
While syphilis can be cured with proper antibiotics, treatment cannot undo any damage that the infection has already caused. Having syphilis once does not protect you from getting infected again.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Human papilloma virus, or HPV, is possibly the most common sexually transmitted disease, and can infect the genitals, mouth, and throat. A study conducted in 2007 concluded that one-quarter of the population of sexually active women are infected at any given time.
Contrary to popular belief, only a few types of HPV are linked to cervical cancer. The other 40+ strains cause genital warts, other warts, or no symptoms at all.
Though HPV is considered incurable, its symptoms can be treated, and most people resolve infections on their own. Most people infected with harmful strains of HPV have no symptoms until they develop other health issues.
Genital Herpes comes from the herpes simplex virus, type 1 (most often associated with cold sores) or type 2 (most often associated with genital sores), and it affects more than a quarter of the population. The infection can be caused by vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who is infected, meaning it is possible to transmit herpes from the mouth to genitals and vice versa.
Some people with herpes experience mild symptoms or none at all. Other people have outbreaks of lesions that look like blisters around their genitals, rectum, or mouth, which can break open and become painful sores that take a long time to heal. The fluid inside the herpes sores contains the virus.
Outbreaks can happen again and again, but typically become shorter and less severe over time. Since the virus can spread through the skin, infection can be caused by contact, however, infected people can still pass the virus even if they don’t have sores.
Though there is no cure for herpes, doctors can prescribe medicines that ease the pain and help prevent and shorten outbreaks. Herpes infection can be deadly to infants, but luckily, infection transmission during pregnancy is relatively rare. Mothers infected with genital herpes should discuss their diagnosis with an obstetrician, and a cesarean section may be recommended if there is an active outbreak during the time of birth.
In addition to these six infections, there are several other sexually transmitted diseases that affect American women. Lucky, regular testing can keep you in track of your sexual health even when symptoms are unnoticeable.
For more information about different types of STDs, symptoms and testing, click here. If you had unprotected sex and are worried you might be pregnant or have an STD, you can make a free appointment with us by clicking here.
Turning Point is here to assist any woman that needs pregnancy medical services, community referrals and even advice! To receive help today, please call us at (858) 397-1970, text at (858) 822-9335, or send a confidential email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!