Did you know that across the globe each day, more than one million adults are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? In the United States, more than 20 million new STD cases are reported each year.
The good news is that when caught in the early stages, most STDs are treatable. This is why regular STD screenings are important for women of all ages. They can help keep you and your sexual partner(s) healthy.
As part of our comprehensive gynecology care at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, our OB/GYN providers help women in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, protect their health with routine STD screenings and treatment.
Here’s a look at some of the most common STDs and how they’re treated.
Chlamydia is a highly contagious bacterial infection transmitted during vaginal, oral, and anal sex. This STD is extremely common, infecting almost 3 million women each year. Without treatment, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women.
PID is a serious medical condition and can cause infertility. Unfortunately, women often don’t experience noticeable symptoms of chlamydia in the earliest stages, and if you’re pregnant you can pass the infection to your baby.
If symptoms develop, they typically appear at least 2-3 weeks after infection and include:
- Yellow vaginal discharge
- Pain or burning when you pee
- Spotting after sex or between your periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge
At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, our providers treat chlamydia with antibiotics. Note that it’s possible to get chlamydia multiple times, so if you’ve been infected, be sure to talk to your OB/GYN about ways to prevent future infections.
Gonorrhea is another type of bacterial infection, and it’s spread like chlamydia. When not treated, this STD can impact your ability to have children and can cause other damage to your reproductive health.
Gonorrhea rarely has symptoms, which is another reason that routine STD screenings with your provider at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare are essential. Even if symptoms of gonorrhea appear, they may present like other genitourinary issues, such as bladder infections.
If you experience any of the following, be sure to set up an appointment with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare as soon as possible:
- Swelling of your vulva
- Spotting or irregular bleeding
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Burning when you pee
- Pain during sex
- Spotting after sex
Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. However, this STD requires dual therapy (two types of antibiotics) to be successful.
There are two types of the herpes simplex virus. Both are viral infections that are transmitted through sexual contact or kissing, and they both cause sores to appear. HSV-1 causes sores around the mouth, while HSV-2 causes sores around the genitals.
Sometimes symptoms appear after a few days, but some people can go months or even years before noticing symptoms. For women, herpes can cause:
- Small blisters, typically in the vaginal area, mouth area, anus, buttocks, or thighs. (Do note that blisters may pop or become open sores before scabbing over.)
- Body and muscle aches
- Swollen, painful lymph nodes
Because herpes is a virus, it can’t be treated with antibiotics, and there is no known cure. The good news is that new antiviral medications can help speed the healing of active blisters and lengthen the time between flare-ups.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
There are more than 40 types of HPV, and the virus usually has no symptoms until it causes serious complications, such as cervical cancer. This is why your Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare provider screens for HPV during your routine Pap smears.
The good news is that vaccines can protect you against different types of HPV. Additionally, most HPV infections are harmless and resolve on their own. But when they do cause problems, they can threaten your fertility and even your life.
Be sure to talk to your provider about regular HPV screenings as guidelines vary based on your history and age.
Trichomoniasis, or “trich,” travels from person to person on a small parasite. While it can be cured, less than one-third of women with trichomoniasis develop symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they can come and go and may include:
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Burning and/or itching
- Sore, painful genitals
Fortunately, your provider at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare can treat cases of trich with a simple antibiotic that you take for about a week.
To learn more about STDs and how they’re treated, book an appointment online or over the phone with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.