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Common STDs and How to Prevent Them

Common STDs and How to Prevent Them

You know how to prevent a cold, flu, or COVID: Avoid ill people, wash your hands frequently, and use a mask in some cases. You also know that prevention doesn’t always keep you safe, though it lowers your risk and may lead to fewer symptoms.

The same is true with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Even though using condoms and being careful about your partner choice, you’re still at risk of contracting an STD. And, as with colds or flu, you can still come in contact with sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses, no matter how old you are or what your sexual orientation or relationship status is.

An untreated STD can put you at risk of infertility, some cancers, and even early death. The best way to keep yourself safe is through regular STD testing. Learn how to spot signs of a problem as quickly as possible. 

At The Women's Center at Life Point Medical in Clayton, Georgia, caring and compassionate family nurse practitioner Monique Petteys, FNP-C, encourages all sexually active adults to be tested regularly for STDs. In addition to testing, practice safer sex to minimize your risk of infection.

What are some of the most common STDs, and how can you prevent them? The following brief will help you understand your risk. 

Chlamydia

In the United States, chlamydia is the most common bacterial STD. You can have a symptomless chlamydia infection. If you develop symptoms, they usually take about three weeks to develop after exposure. Signs that you have a chlamydia infection include: 

Be safer: Using a condom every time you have sex can lower your risk for chlamydia. 

Herpes

Approximately 572,000 new cases of the herpes simplex virus are diagnosed annually in the US. Herpes spreads through mucus and seeps into tiny cuts and scrapes. Men, especially, don’t always have the classic symptoms of herpes, which include pain, itching, or blisters in the genital and anal area.

Be safer: Even intimate touch can transmit herpes. Use condoms, oral dams, and gloves.

HPV

More than 42 million Americans have human papillomavirus (HPV). You may have it now or have had it in the past. Nearly everyone will get HPV at some point during their sexual lifetime. HPV can cause:

Be safer: Even intimate touch can transmit herpes. Use condoms, oral dams, and gloves.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can spread from your genitals through your bloodstream to affect your brain and heart. It may begin as a small sore on your mouth, lips, or genitals. Over time, sores could develop all over your body, including your hands and feet. Without treatment, syphilis can lead to:

The good news about syphilis — it’s a bacterial infection; your doctor can cure it with antibiotics before it wreaks havoc on your body.

Be safer: Syphilis gets transmitted through bodily fluids. Always use a condom, including for oral sex.

Gonorrhea

Antibiotics can cure gonorrhea, also a bacterial infection, which can infect other parts of your body, including your eyes, mouth, throat, and anus. Symptoms, which may start to emerge about ten days after exposure, include:

Be safer: Gonorrhea gets transmitted through bodily fluids. Always use a condom, including for oral sex.

HIV/AIDS

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an incurable viral infection. HIV attacks your immune system, making it difficult to fight off diseases and other infections. With HIV, you can be asymptomatic for weeks. You may then develop symptoms that could be mistaken for the flu, such as headache, sore throat, fever, and fatigue.

Without medical management, HIV continues to destroy your immune cells, causing fever, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, shortness of breath, cough, and diarrhea. When symptoms progress and become chronic, it can lead to AIDS. 

Be safer: HIV gets transmitted through bodily fluids. Always use a condom, including for oral sex.

Even if you practice safer sex, regular STD testing is essential for all sexually active adults to catch STDs in their earliest, most curable, or most manageable stages. To set up an STD test today, contact us by phone, email, or the online form.

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