What Everyone Should Know About STDs And STD Testing
There’s an unfortunate fact that more people need to hear: If you are sexually active, you are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). There’s just no way around it. This is a particular problem because STD rates in America have been on the rise for years. Why is this? Probably because no one likes talking about STDs.
It’s an unpleasant subject, but the more you know, the easier it will be to engage in sex in relatively safe ways. So, we wanted to take a couple of minutes to answer common questions about STDs, and STD testing. Pay attention and protect yourself!
The Most Important Things You Should Know About STDs
First, just a quick note: The terms “sexually transmitted disease,” “sexually transmitted infection, and “venereal disease” all mean the exact same thing. They’re just different terms for the same types of infections.
All told, there are more than thirty diseases that can be sexually transmitted – but only a handful are commonly seen. These are some of the STDs you should be watching out for.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
In terms of numbers, HPV is the most common STD in the United States. More than 79 million people are infected with it. HPV is often completely asymptomatic, and in many cases, clears up on its own. That’s one reason it’s so common – many people never have any idea they even had an infection.
The bad news is that occasionally infections can cause cancer, including cervical cancer, and even throat cancer.
Fortunately, HPV is one of the only STDs which you can be immunized against. If you’re a younger person, you may have even received an HPV vaccine as a child, around the time you were 11-12. Find out if you’ve received the vaccine and get it if you haven’t.
It’s important to note that although Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena can test for HPV they do not offer the vaccine.
Chlamydia is another extremely commonplace STD, which can be carried by both men and women. Chlamydia infections tend to make themselves known quickly, with symptoms that include burning when urinating, or unusual discharge from the penis, vagina, or anus. Left untreated, it can cause serious reproductive problems, even potentially leaving women sterile.
Fortunately, chlamydia is easy to detect with STD testing and can be cured with a simple round of antibiotics. Basically, if you’re getting burning sensations or unusual fluids “down below,” get yourself checked out ASAP.
Gonorrhea is an STD that is similar to chlamydia, in that it can cause many of the same symptoms and can also threaten your reproductive health if left untreated. The problem is that gonorrhea often shows no symptoms, so a person can be passing it around without even realizing they’re infected. Or the symptoms can be mild. Women infected with gonorrhea often mistake it for a simple urinary tract infection.
The good news is that, also like chlamydia, gonorrhea is easily detected with STD testing, and easily treated as well. Drug-resistant strains have begun to appear but can still be taken care of with stronger medicines.
Public Lice (Crabs)
“Crabs” are unusual among STDs in that they aren’t a virus or bacteria. They are actually tiny insects, which do indeed look much like crabs. They most often infest public hair but can potentially spread to any hairy area of the body if there’s direct contact with an infested area. The primary symptom is itching, as well as often being able to see them if you examine the hairs.
As unpleasant as this sounds, the good news is that they can be treated with medicinal shampoos. Even over-the-counter head lice shampoo can work. However, if this doesn’t clear them up, be sure to visit your local urgent care clinic for a checkup.
Herpes is a virus that can be transmitted through any sexual contact, and may potentially infect the groin, anus, or mouth. That said, not all herpes is transmitted sexually. Many forms of cold sores are actually herpes, and some people pick it up in childhood through various sources.
The primary symptom of herpes is small blisters or sores that appear in the infected area. The sores are vectors, especially if they are broken open.
As a virus, there is no true cure for herpes. Once a person is infected, they’re infected for life. Worse, herpes may manifest in places that aren’t covered by typical barrier-style contraceptives such as condoms, so even practicing safe sex won’t necessarily stop their spread.
Medicines exist which can reduce the severity of herpes and allow someone to have a reasonably normal sex life, but it will never go away entirely.
What To Do If You Think You’ve Been Exposed To An STD
Get STD testing. It’s as simple as that. This isn’t a problem that goes away if it’s ignored, and you could potentially infect others if you don’t take action. Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena offers testing for HIV, Hepatitis B, and C, and Syphilis. Contact your local Pasadena walk-in clinic to arrange for a test.