Anyone who is sexually active should be tested for sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) on a regular basis. Because STDs are fairly common and can often remain unnoticed, testing is vital. Over 19 million new cases of STDs occur each year in the United States. They can affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels, but are most common among teenagers and young adults. STDs can sometimes have no noticeable symptoms, particularly in women. That is why screening is so important. Some of the more common symptoms associated with STDs in women include vaginal discharge, itching, burning, pain with urination, and lower abdominal pain. Annual screening is recommended from the onset of sexual activity until age 25. Testing is recommended even if you use a condom every time you have intercourse.
After gynecologic consultation with Dr. Unterseher, a determination will be made to establish what type and frequency of STD testing would be best for you.
Some of the more common types of STDs include:
- Chlamydia: which is a common bacterial genital infection that can be present without any symptoms and can potentially cause irreparable damage to a woman’s reproductive organs. It is the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States with reportedly 2.8 million new infections each year.
- Gonorrhea: another common bacterial genital infection that if left untreated could lead to serious damage to a women’s reproductive organs. Approximately 700,000 new infections are reported each year in the United States.
- Trichomonas: a parasitic infection of the vagina or urinary tract that can cause vaginal discharge, odor, and inflammation.
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus): a common virus that can be present on genital skin and passed to a sexual partner. It is responsible for genital warts that usually would appear on the vulvar skin, but sometimes involve the vagina and cervix. There are some high risk HPV viruses that can infect the cervix and increase a woman’s chance to develop cervical cancer. It is estimated there will be over 6.2 million new HPV infections each year in the United States.
- Herpes: a genital infection caused by the herpes simplex virus which can cause a painful rash with bumps or blisters on the genital skin. Usually, the first infection has the most severe symptoms, but women infected with herpes can have repeat outbreaks with minimal symptoms and may place their partner at risk for infection. Herpes can be dangerous in pregnancy, especially during childbirth if a women delivers vaginally while she is having a herpes outbreak.
- Syphilis: a bacterial infection that can start as a painless open sore around the opening of the vagina but can later appear as sores in the mouth, anus, or on the hands. If syphilis is untreated, it could potentially spread to the heart, eyes, brain, and joints and cause permanent damage. It is especially important for a pregnant woman who gets a syphilis infection be quickly diagnosed and treated. This is because it is likely she will pass the infection to her growing baby which could result in stillbirth or death shortly after birth.
- HIV: a virus that can be passed through contact with blood and body fluids. Once inside a person, it can destroy their immune system and leave them vulnerable to serious, life-threatening infections as well as cancer.
- Hepatitis B and C: viruses that can be passed through contact with blood and body fluids that can infect the liver and cause irreparable damage. At present there is only a vaccine available for hepatitis B.
If you are interested in more information regarding STD screening and are in need of an experienced, reputable, and personable OB/GYN, we encourage you to call our professional and caring staff at Esplanade Women’s Care under the direction of Dr. Raleigh Unterseher.
Don’t wait – call us today at (530) 332-9288 to schedule your confidential consultation.