Do I have an STD?
Unprotected sex. You didn’t think about it in the moment, but you had sex without using a condom. If you (or your partner) are on birth control you might have assumed you didn’t need a condom. But now your partner tells you that they think they might have a STI (sexually transmitted infection). Maybe you’ve hooked up with several different people recently and what you thought was a bladder infection might be something else.
Now you’re wondering, “What if I have a STI?”
A STI is a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection that is primarily transmitted through sexual activity. Hormonal birth control does not protect against STIs and condoms, while effective in reducing the risk, don’t completely eliminate the possibility of contracting a STI. Anyone who is sexually active or has “sexual contact through exchange of fluids” can get infected; this includes oral sex. There are more than 30 infections that are transmitted through sexual activity, but the most common are: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes, Trichomoniasis, HIV, Hepatitis C and B, and HPV.
Did you know that STIs can have many different symptoms, but some STIs don’t show signs for a long time (they are dormant) or have any symptoms at all? Pain during sex, unexplained vaginal bleeding, foul smelling discharge, and flu-like symptoms are common. Remember that just because you’re not having symptoms doesn’t mean you’re not infected.
You might wonder, “So what if I don’t get tested or receive treatment? Won’t this just go away like other infections?”
Did you know that if you go untreated for a STI that it can cause permanent damage to your body and even make you more susceptible to other STIs? If Chlamydia or Gonorrhea – two STIs that can be asymptomatic, or not show symptoms – remain undetected and untreated they can lead to something called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can damage a woman’s reproductive system and cause her to be unable to have children in the future. Another example is Herpes and Syphilis. These increase your chance of contracting HIV.
If you’re sexually active, you have a 50% chance of contracting a STD by the time you’re 25. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends that if you’re sexually active, you should test for the presence of STIs at least once a year. Bacterial STIs, such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, are easily treated with antibiotics. Viral STIs, such as HIV or Herpes aren’t curable, but medications can help manage the symptoms.
Testing for STIs is really simple. Testing can be done through a simple blood or urine test that is sent off to a lab for confirmation. Some STIs are diagnosed by pelvic exams or a vaginal or penile swab.
Did you know that many pregnancy resource centers offer free STI consultations?
Take control of your sexual health. Make an appointment today. Get your questions answered. Evaluate your options. And take a step in the right direction to help protect yourself and others.
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