Do you have questions about STDs? Or wonder if you might have one and not know it?
April is STD Awareness Month. There is good reason to be aware of the risks associated with sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Infection rates in the United States continue to climb. Young people aged 15-24 account for about half of the nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections each year, according to the CDC.
The approximately 1.5 million cases of chlamydia reported in 2015 represent the highest number of annual cases of any condition ever reported to CDC. Substantial increases were also seen among reported cases of gonorrhea and syphilis.
Also according to the CDC, women and infants are at significant risk for long-term consequences of STDs. For some women maintaining the relationship with her partner may take a higher priority than STD risk reduction, thereby affecting her sexual and reproductive health, as well as the health of her unborn baby if she is pregnant.
So what can you do about it?
First, know the facts.
A few answers to common questions:
Q. I don’t have any symptoms. Can I still have an STD or STI?
A. Yes. While you may have symptoms such as vaginal itching, vaginal discharge or red sores with an STD, some common STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, often do not have symptoms. Most people who have chlamydia do not know it.
Q. How does someone get an STD or STI?
A. You get an STD or STI by having sex with someone who has that sexually transmitted disease or infection. Having sex means having anal, oral or vaginal contact.
Q. Can I prevent an STD by washing or douching after sex?
Q. How do I know if I should get tested for an STD?
A. If you are sexually active, you should be tested. See the CDC’s guidelines for how often to get tested for various sexually transmitted infections. First Care Clinic offers comprehensive STD testing for women free of charge. Call or text 608-259-1605 to make an appointment to get tested.
Q. What do I do if I have an STD?
A. Many STDs are curable and all are treatable. First Care Clinic or your health care provider can recommend and prescribe specific treatment for you.
There is good news. STDs are preventable. There are things you can do to avoid getting or passing on an STD.
The surest way to avoid STDs is to not have sex. To reduce your risk, agree to have sex with only one person who agrees to only have sex with you. Read the CDC’s “Lowdown” infographic for more about how to prevent STDs.