Sexually Transmitted Diseases and What You Need to Know
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Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are infections that can be transferred from one person to another through sexual contact. In the United States, there are approximately 19 million new STD cases every year, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Almost half of these are young people aged 15 to 24.
STDs are expected to cost the US healthcare system an annual $15.9 billion. STDs remain a pressing health problem. Here are 6 things you should know about STDs.
1. Untreated STDs can result in serious long-term health consequences, especially for adolescent girls and young women. Undiagnosed and untreated STDs cause infertility in at least 24,000 women in the U.S. every year.
2. Chlamydia remains the most commonly reported STD in the U.S. More than 1.1 million cases were reported in 2008. Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Clamydia trachomatis. It is called the silent disease because three-quarters of infected women and half of infected men show no symptoms. But serious complications can cause irreversible damage, such as infertility. The good news is that chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics.
3. The surest way to prevent from getting infected with STDs is to abstain from sex. But if you are already sexually active or planning to have sex, make sure that your partner has a clean bill of health and does not have sex with other people besides you. Using condoms will reduce the risk of getting STDs like gonorrhea or genital herpes, if these are used properly. Washing, urinating or douching after sex will not prevent one from getting any STD.
4. Genital human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most commonly transmitted STD in the U.S. At least 50 percent of sexually active people will have HPV at some time. HPV is transmitted through genital contact. There is no cure for HPV, although there are treatments for serious medical conditions that are caused by HPV, such as genital warts and cervical cancer. The infection usually goes away on its own.
5. A pregnant woman can still get an STD. She can also pass it on to her baby. An STD can cause a woman to go into premature labor. Pregnant women should get tested for STDs as soon as they find out that they are pregnant.
6. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious complication caused by STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Its symptoms are pain in the lower abdomen, fever, an unusual and smelly discharge from your vagina, pain when you engage in sexual intercourse, and bleeding between periods. PID can be effectively treated by antibiotics if it is caught early. If left untreated, PID can cause scar tissue in the womb and other reproductive organs. This can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and pain in the pelvis.
Everyone who is sexually active or planning to become sexually active should be aware of STDs. The adolescent girls and young women who are most vulnerable to STDs should be especially careful when having sex and choosing their sexual partners. They should always use a condom and regularly get checked for STDs. If you experience any symptom of an STD, go and see a doctor right away. The earlier an STD is diagnosed, the better for the patient’s treatment.