Steer Clear of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Get Tested Today!

The truth is that if you’re sexually active, you run a high risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Even if you’ve been with the same partner for a long time, it’s important to get tested to make sure you’re not passing an STD back and forth. STDs can cause tremendous pain and discomfort, threaten a woman’s reproductive health, spread to others, and even lead to death.

Birth control merely prevents pregnancy; it does not protect you from contracting STDs. Whether you are on birth control or not, you should always use a condom until you and your partner have both been tested for STDs and HIV and you are sure you are both 100% STD-FREE.

Educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of the most common STDs so you can be as informed as possible. Power your ability to make smart decisions, even in the heat of the moment!

Chlamydia

What is it? Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs. It is known as a “silent” infection because most infected persons have no symptoms, and if they do occur, they may not appear until several weeks after exposure.

Symptoms in women: Symptoms may include an abnormal discharge, painful urination and, for women, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).PID can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain. Complications for men are rare; however, untreated infections may cause infertility.

Complications in Pregnancy: Pregnant women with chlamydia may have pre-term deliveries and can pass the infection to their infants during delivery, potentially causing eye infections or pneumonia.

Screening and Treatment:The CDC recommends annual screening of all sexually active persons, all pregnant women, and all women under 26 years of age.  Anyone who is sexually active should discuss their risks for getting chlamydia with a health care provider who can decide if more frequent testing is necessary.

Chlamydia is easily treated and cured with antibiotics.  Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. Persons whose sex partners have not been appropriately treated are at high risk for re-infection. Having multiple chlamydial infections increases a woman’s risk of serious reproductive health complications, including PID and ectopic pregnancy. To avoid getting infected with chlamydia again or spreading chlamydia to your partner(s), you and your sex partner(s) should avoid having sex until you have each finished treatment.

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Gonorrhea

What is it? Gonorrhea is the second most frequently reported bacterial STD in the United States. In the United States, the highest reported rates of infection are among sexually active young adults between 15-29 years of age.

Symptoms in women: Symptoms for men and women may include painful urination and/or an abnormal discharge within 1 to 14 days of exposure, while some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. For women, symptoms may be mild or mistaken for bladder or vaginal infections and may lead to PID.

Complications in Pregnancy: A pregnant woman may pass the infection to her baby through delivery, causing blindness or various infections. Untreated gonorrhea may affect fertility in both males and females, increases the risk of HIV infection and transmission, and may spread through the blood to joints causing other serious health problems and even death.

Treatment: Gonorrhea may be cured with the right treatment. It is becoming harder to treat some gonorrhea, as drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing. To avoid getting infected with gonorrhea again or spreading gonorrhea to your partner(s), you and your sex partner(s) should avoid having sex until you have each completed treatment.

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Genital Herpes

What is it? A virus that can spread even when the infected person is not showing symptoms. You can contract herpes without having intercourse because it spreads through skin contact.

Symptoms in women: During an outbreak, sores and blisters form around the vagina and rectum, and the effects of the virus can cause flu-like symptoms.

Treatment: Herpes cannot be cured. Medicine can shorten outbreaks and ease symptoms, but herpes stays with you for life.

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Genital Warts

What are they? One of the most common STDs, caused by HPV (human papillomavirus).

Symptoms in women: Small, flesh-colored bumps around the vagina and anus.

Treatment: Your doctor can remove the warts by freezing them off, but the HPV virus cannot be cured and must be tracked because it can lead to cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is available to girls and women from 9 to 26 years old.

Get more information about the HPV vaccine

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HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

What is it? One of the most common STDs; if you are sexually active, chances are that you will contract some form of it if you haven’t already.

Symptoms in women: Sometimes HPV shows itself in the form of warts, but sometimes there are no symptoms, which is dangerous because the virus can be silently forming cancerous cells in your cervix without your knowledge.

Treatment: There is no treatment. All women with a history of HPV should get a Pap smear at least once a year to ensure the virus is not becoming cancerous.

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Hepatitis B

What is it? A contagious virus that infects the liver.

Symptoms in women: There may be no symptoms at all, or you may feel like you have the flu. If you have hepatitis B and you don’t know it, the virus can damage your liver over time.

Treatment: Usually the virus goes away on its own, but it’s important to talk to your doctor to figure out which medicines to take.

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Syphilis

What is it? Syphilis is an STD caused by bacteria which travels through the blood and if left untreated, may result in long-term complications and even death. Unlike chlamydia or gonorrhea, syphilis travels through the bloodstream.

Symptoms: Syphilis has three stages: first, a single, painless sore appears. Many women may not notice this first sore as it may be inside the vagina; second, skin rashes may develop and may appear similar to other skin infections, including allergic reactions and chicken pox. In these stages of infection, these symptoms may go away on their own, but the disease stays in the body, possibly for many years, until properly treated. If left untreated, the symptoms may re-surface by attacking the brain or other organs of the body, and it can lead to death.

Complications in pregnancy: A pregnant woman who has syphilis can pass the infection to her unborn baby. The complications of passing syphilis to an unborn baby can include low birth weight, premature delivery and stillbirth. An infected baby may be born without signs or symptoms of disease. However, if not treated right away, the baby may develop serious problems within a few weeks. Untreated babies can have health problems such as cataracts, deafness, or seizures and can die.

Screening and Treatment: CDC recommends that all persons with symptoms be examined and all pregnant women be routinely tested to protect their baby. A pregnant woman should be tested for syphilis early during pregnancy and at delivery and receive immediate treatment if she tests positive.

The CDC recommends testing any sexually active person with symptoms. Any sexually active person at risk for getting syphilis should discuss their risks with a health care provider who can determine if testing is recommended.

Syphilis is easily cured with antibiotics in all stages of infection. However, the damage that has been done does not go away.

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HIV/AIDS

What is it? HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks white blood cells, damaging the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off diseases and infections it can normally get rid of. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the chronic and fatal condition that HIV can lead to.

Symptoms in women: There may not be any symptoms of HIV at first, but a person with this virus could have a flu-like illness that lasts for 2-4 weeks. A person may live with HIV for up to 10 years without treatment and not even know it (possibly spreading it to others all the while), but eventually it will weaken the immune system to such a degree that he or she will develop AIDS. As AIDS advances, the immune system becomes so weak that the body can catch any infection it’s exposed to, which ultimately leads to death.

Treatment: Unfortunately there is no cure for HIV, but scientists and doctors have developed treatments that slow down and even stop the virus in its tracks, making it possible for people with HIV to live a long and healthy life without developing AIDS.

The thought of getting tested for HIV may be terrifying, but the test itself doesn’t mean you have the virus. It’s very important to get tested—for the sake of your own health and to protect the health of others.

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Stop having sex until you are sure you (and your partner) have not been exposed to an STD. Don’t be scared to get tested—treatments are available!

Get tested ASAP.