According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 20% of the United States population has a sexually transmitted infection (STI) on any day of the year. Without treatment, an STI can develop into a sexually transmitted disease (STD), which means that the STI now causes recognizable symptoms.
However, if you’re a woman, you’re less likely to develop symptoms of an STD than a man is, even if you have an STI. Your best bet is to avoid an STI in the first place, to protect your overall and reproductive health.
At Modern Wellness Clinic, our team of caring and discreet providers helps you stay healthy with women’s care. At your annual well-woman physical exam, we recommend testing for STIs if you’re sexually active, particularly if you’re not in a monogamous relationship.
What STDs are you at risk for developing? Read on to find out how to protect yourself from five of the most common STDs.
Infections with the human papillomavirus (HPV) affect approximately 42.5 million people in the United States. Women are especially at risk for HPV infection, which is the #1 cause of cervical cancer. In fact, 95% of cervical cancer cases originate with an HPV infection.
Unfortunately, you can contract an HPV infection even without sexual intercourse. HPV can be transmitted by intimate touch alone, rather than through bodily fluids.
Reduce your risk for HPV by minimizing your number of sexual partners. Also stay alert to possible signs of infection, including genital warts.
During your well-woman exam, we administer an HPV test if you’re in a high risk group for infection. Also, be sure to get regular Pap smears, which look for precancerous and cancerous changes on your cervix. Early treatment of cervical cancer almost always leads to a cure.
In addition, consider an HPV vaccine. Children can be vaccinated against HPV in two doses, starting at age 9. Anyone up to age 26 can get an HPV vaccine.
You might also consider an HPV vaccine if you’re aged 27-45. However, if you’ve been sexually active, you may have already been exposed to the virus and developed immunity. Talk to your doctor about whether a vaccine is beneficial to you as an older adult.
If you do contract HPV, there is no cure. You can manage symptoms with antiviral medications and other therapies.
Both types of the herpes simplex virus (HSV 1 and HSV 2) can be transmitted through sexual activity. Even though HSV 1 is most strongly associated with oral herpes, such as cold sores around your mouth, if you engage in oral sex, it can be transmitted to reproductive organs, too.
As with HPV, HSV 1 and 2 can be transmitted through intimate touch alone. You don’t need to have sexual intercourse or exchange bodily fluids to contract or pass on a herpes infection. About 18.6 million people in the US have HSV 2.
Protect yourself from herpes by limiting the number of sexual partners. If you contract herpes, you can’t cure it yet. However, antiviral therapies can help you manage and limit outbreaks, such as blisters and sores on your genitals.
Trichomoniasis infections are the third most common STI, affecting about 2.6 million people in the U.S. This infection (sometimes called “trich”) is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis.
You can cure trich with a course of antibiotics. However, if you’re pregnant, the infection could cause complications. Protect yourself from trich by using condoms when you have sex.
Chlamydia infections affect about 2.4 million people in the US. You may not have any symptoms at all, even if you’re infected with chlamydia. A course of antibiotics can cure chlamydia. Without treatment, an infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and sterility.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) affects just under a million people in the United States. Because HIV/AIDs is viral, it can’t be cured.
Prevent HIV by limiting partners, always using condoms, and avoiding sexual contact with gay or bisexual men. Antiretroviral therapy can help slow the disease progression.
Of course, more than just five STIs and STDs exist in today’s complex world. If you’re sexually active, you’re at risk for all of them. Pay attention to symptoms such as itching, unusual vaginal discharge or pain and seek medical care promptly.
Also be sure to get regular Pap smears and STI testing at our Las Vegas, Nevada, facility. Contact our helpful office staff by phone at 702-463-9159 today. Or use our online booking form.