All your life you’ve been encouraged to stay healthy. Maybe your Mom lectured you about not wearing a coat in the winter, or a friend suggested you get more sleep. Your health is vital to everything you do. That includes your sexual health too.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are extremely common. Almost half of all STIs occur in people younger than 25 years old. Exposure to an STI can occur any time you have sexual contact with anyone that involves the genitals, the mouth (oral), or the rectum (anal). Exposure is more likely if you have more than one sex partner or you don’t use condoms correctly.
Determining if You Have an STI
There is a wide variety of STIs with different types of symptoms. Common STI symptoms can include burning pain when you urinate, or itching, and sores on the genitals. But, some people don’t experience any symptoms at all until much later. It’s not uncommon to pass an STI to a sexual partner without even knowing you have one.
Most STIs can be treated and cured. If left untreated, some can lead to serious health issues like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), eye inflammation, arthritis, heart disease, and even infertility. This is why it’s so important to be tested at least once a year and more frequently if you have different sexual partners.
5 Most Common STIs
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are about 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) per year, with about half occurring in young people ages 15 to 24. Here’s a list of common STIs:
Chlamydia is an infection caused by bacteria with few outward symptoms. In most cases, it’s spread through sexual contact. It’s treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection spread through sexual contact. It’s found most often in the genital area, but it can also infect other areas of the body, such as the rectum or throat. Most people with gonorrhea have symptoms within a few days after infection.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) / Genital Warts
Genital warts are skin growths on or around the genitals or anus. They are caused by a virus that’s spread by sexual contact. Some types can lead to cervical cancer. Other types may cause cancer of the genitals, mouth, and throat. There are usually no initial signs or symptoms of HPV infections.
Herpes can cause skin blisters and sores in the genital area but often causes no visible symptoms. It is commonly associated with cold sores or fever blisters (oral herpes), but also genital or anal sores. Herpes can also affect the developing fetus in a pregnant woman, especially if the woman becomes infected during the first trimester.
Syphilis is an infection spread through sex. The most common symptom is a painless sore on the genitals, rectal area, or mouth. Later symptoms may include a rash, hair loss, and flu-like symptoms. It’s simple to cure but left untreated, it can affect the heart and brain.
Pregnancy and Abortion
Pregnant women can spread STIs to their babies. Health consequences include low birth weight, eye infection, pneumonia, blood infection, brain damage, blindness, deafness, lack of coordination, hepatitis, meningitis, chronic liver disease, and stillbirth.
We’re Your Next Best Step
If you believe you may be pregnant or have an STI, contact First Care Pregnancy Center for free and confidential health services. For a suspected STI, a nurse will oversee sample collection for testing, which may include a urine sample, blood draw, and swabs on the throat, vagina, and/or rectum, as indicated.
We are here to help you because we care about you and your sexual health. Our center is judgment-free and you are always welcome!Learn More
This post provides information regarding two of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) present today: Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
Imagine this: You’re scrolling through your phone and you see a text pop up that makes your heart drop. It’s your ex, and you’re told you need to get tested because your ex has Chlamydia. Your head starts swimming with emotions and questions: How could he or she do this to me? Am I going to be okay? Where do I go from here?
While the above scenario may not describe your exact experience, we know that you may have questions without knowing who to ask.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both bacterial infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. This can be any form of sexual contact, whether vaginal, anal, or oral sex. These infections can also be passed to a baby during childbirth if the mother has an active infection.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are very common STIs. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 1 out of every 20 sexual active women between the ages 14-24 has chlamydia. Additionally, over 1 million new gonorrhea cases are estimated to occur in the United States each year (CDC, 2016). In Minnesota the rates continue to rise for both STDs with a record number of cases in 2019.
One of the concerning aspects of both chlamydia and gonorrhea is that often times, men and women don’t experience symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include burning with urination or discharge from the site of infection. If left untreated, these infections can cause serious complications.
If you do test positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea, you will need to receive antibiotics for treatment. Chlamydia is treated with a one-time dose of an oral antibiotic. Gonorrhea has become resistant to some antibiotics and therefore requires two different antibiotics for treatment. This includes pills and an injection. You will also need to notify any current and past partners that may have come in contact with the infection so they can be tested and treated.
You may think, “Since these infections are easily treated with antibiotics, it’s not a big deal if I test positive!” While it is true that these infections are treatable, there can be serious long term consequences, especially with repeated infections or having an infection that goes untreated for a long time. Some of these complications include pelvic inflammatory disease, scarring in the fallopian tubes leading to infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a medical emergency where an embryo implants outside of the uterus), and long term pelvic pain. (CDC, 2016).
So how can chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other STIs be prevented? According to the CDC, the best way to prevent contracting an STI is to “abstain from vaginal, anal, and oral sex, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected” (CDC, 2016). We also understand that in some situations, contracting an STI was not something that could be prevented, like in instances of unwanted sexual contact.
If you are concerned about a potential STI, we are here to help. First Care has a safe and confidential environment for you to process your unique situation and receive accurate testing with licensed staff. Testing and treatment are provided at no cost at our centers (no insurance required either)
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All data retrieved from the CDC website:
Being tested for STDs is an important and healthy practice for anyone who is sexually active. First Care provides confidential, quality testing and treatment. You may be wondering what will happen at my STD appointment.
Here is What You Can Expect:
- Based on your sexual practices and health history, a nurse will determine appropriate testing.
- A nurse will answer questions you have about STD’s and provide you with materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- A medical professional will oversee sample collection for testing, which may include a urine sample, blood draw, and swabs of throat, vagina and/or rectum, as indicated.
- Results will be provided by phone or an in-office visits. Results are typically available within 3 business days.
- Treatment will be provided dependent on test results. Some treatments are available immediately by one of our nurses or physicians. You will receive a prescription or referral if for some reason we are unable to provide treatment.
The law requires all STD testing clinics report certain STDs to the Minnesota Department of Health. Your information and test results will be kept confidential, other than what we are required to report by law. We will never report your results to your school or place of work.