Sexually transmitted diseases haven’t gone away; they’re on the rise. Even though you don’t hear as much about the need to practice safe sex as you once did, they still present a very real risk to your health, and they’re one of the most common reasons to need a gynecology exam.
Some sexually transmitted diseases (or STDs) have no symptoms, but many do have signs you can recognize. The more you know about your sexual health, the greater awareness you’ll have to protect yourself. Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich explains five STDs you need to be aware of.
The symptoms of STDs
While many STDs don’t present any symptoms, most of them do. Some of the symptoms most commonly associated with STDs include the following:
- Itching or irritation in your genital region
- Sores or bumps on your genitals
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Bleeding between periods
- Vaginal odor, which may be strong
- Anal itching
- Pain during urination
- Lower abdominal pain
You can’t tell if someone “looks clean;’ anyone can get an STD, and personal hygiene has little to do with it.
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment as soon as possible with Dr. Weyhrich. There’s no reason to be embarrassed; this is something that he sees regularly.
5 STDs to watch for
Although there are many different varieties of STDs that you can catch, some of them are more common than others or have more lasting consequences. Here are five STDs that you need to be aware of.
Syphilis infection rates have declined for many decades. However, in recent years, syphilis has made a major comeback. The infection rate for syphilis increased by 26% in the last year alone, bringing the rates to the same as in the 1950s.
The first sign of syphilis in the early stages is having sores on your genitals, anus, or in your mouth. However, some cases have no symptoms at all. Failing to get tested and treated for syphilis can have very serious consequences, including the following:
- Loss of vision
- Loss of hearing
- Heart disease
- Mental illness
- Memory loss
- Infections of the brain or spinal cord
Most of these symptoms are not reversible, so getting treated is of the utmost importance.
Gonorrhea is another sexually transmitted disease that is not only increasing in its spread, but it’s also becoming more treatment-resistant. It comes from a bacterium that spreads easily through any form of sex, including oral, vaginal, or anal. It can also pass from an infected mother to her baby.
If you’re infected with gonorrhea, the bacteria can also spread to other body parts, including your joints and eyes. According to the World Health Organization, many cases of gonorrhea are now resistant to the drugs used to treat it. You need to keep follow-up appointments if you’re diagnosed with gonorrhea because we need to check and ensure the disease is gone.
Chlamydia is also known as “the clap.” Though it’s a common infection, you may not know you have it. If you don’t get tested and treated, however, it can lead to problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease, which can negatively affect your future fertility.
When symptoms of chlamydia are present, they may include the following:
- Painful urination
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
If you haven’t been following safe sex practices, including using condoms and insisting that you and your partners are disease-free before having sex with them, you’re at risk of getting chlamydia.
4. Human papilloma virus (HPV)
There are more than 100 strains of human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. Some of these strains may even go away on their own, but others can cause cervical cancer.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. The most common symptom of HPV infection is genital warts. You can get vaccinated against the strains linked to cervical cancer if you’re younger than 26, and we recommend you do so.
5. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a dormant disease in your body. There’s no cure for it, but there are treatments you can take to prevent HIV from converting into acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS.)
Symptoms of HIV infection include the following:
- Weight loss
- Joint pain and muscle aches
- Night sweats
These symptoms usually occur in the first weeks after infection.
AIDS can be fatal, so it’s important to get tested for HIV and take preventative medication if you test positive.
If you haven’t been recently tested for STDs, you don’t need to wait until your annual exam; you can get tested anytime. Contact Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich or request an appointment online to be seen in our Boise, Idaho, office.