When a person has oral, anal, or vaginal sex, they are at risk of contracting diseases that are sexually transmitted (STD or STI). Some are highly contagious and have different levels of severity.
According to the CDC, 1 in 5 people in the US have an STD. The potential for disease increases with multiple partners and if you don’t use protection, so it’s important to understand the risk, know the symptoms, and know where to get tested.
What Are Some of the Symptoms?
It is possible to be infected with STDs but remain asymptomatic (or have very mild symptoms).
If there are symptoms, they could include:
- Abdominal pain
- Unusual discharge from the vagina
- Sores or warts on the genital area
- Painful or frequent urination
- Itching and redness in the genital area
- Blisters or sores in or around the mouth
- Abnormal vaginal odor
- Anal itching, soreness, or bleeding
Just because you are sexually active does not automatically mean that you have an STD, but it’s still very important to use protection and get tested for your own sake as well as the protection of your partner.
What Kinds of STDs Are There?
You may not have any symptoms, but it’s important to get tested annually because it’s possible to pass an STD on to your sexual partner, even if it’s just skin-to-skin contact.
Here are three of the most common types of STDs in the US:
- HPV is the most common STI in the United States (with 43 million HPV infections in 2018). Most of those infected were in their late teens or early 20’s. It usually goes away on its own within two years, however, it can potentially cause cancer or genital warts (small raised bumps).
- Gonorrhea causes infection in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is most common in young people aged 15-24.
- Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that happens to people of all ages but is especially common in young women. It can cause serious damage to the female reproductive system such as infertility or ectopic pregnancy.
How Do I Know If I Should Get Tested?
The only way to know 100% if you have an STD is if you get tested. If you test positive for an STD, the good news is that many are curable, but they must first be discovered before they can be treated. Take control of your own health and protect your partner by getting screened.
If you are pregnant and considering abortion and have not been tested yet for STDs, we can help. Here at Aim Women’s Center, we offer a no-cost STD screening and would love to help you learn about different treatment options in a confidential, pressure-free environment.