Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are surprisingly common. Approximately 1 in 5 Americans has an STD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Here at Virtuosa GYN in San Antonio, Texas, Susan Crockett, MD, and her all-female team of gynecology care providers believe that having accurate knowledge is one of the best ways to safeguard yourself from STDs.
Here, we share helpful information about six STDs, along with steps you can take to prevent them.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most common kind of STD in the United States. It is a virus that spreads through oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
Although HPV often goes away on its own, it may also cause genital warts. And over time, it can cause various types of cancer, including cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, throat, tongue, or tonsils.
You can protect yourself by getting the HPV vaccine and practicing safe sex. In addition, with regular well-woman checkups, including Pap smears, we can check for signs of cancer or precancer early, when they are easiest to treat.
Practicing safe sex doesn’t provide 100% protection, but it can significantly reduce your chances of getting HPV and other types of STDs. Safe sex strategies include:
Chlamydia is another common kind of STD. It’s caused by bacteria that can spread during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Failing to seek treatment for chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection that causes pelvic pain and infertility.
The best way to protect yourself from chlamydia is to practice safe sex. If you experience symptoms such as pain, discharge, unusual bleeding, or frequent urination, call us for an evaluation.
Like chlamydia, gonorrhea is the result of bacteria spread through sex. And like chlamydia, it can cause PID if left untreated.
Protect yourself from gonorrhea by practicing safe sex and seeing us right away if you experience symptoms.
Syphilis is another type of STD that results from bacterial infection. People with syphilis may develop sores known as chancres on their genitals or in their anal area. Contact with chancres can spread the syphilis bacteria.
Once again, the best protection is to practice safe sex and to get a medical evaluation if you develop symptoms such as sores, rash, warts, or flu-like symptoms or if you suspect you have been exposed to syphilis.
Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted liver infection that can cause liver cancer and other liver conditions. It can also be spread by sharing needles with an infected person or even sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person.
To protect yourself, practice safe sex, take care around infected people, don’t share needles, and get a hepatitis B vaccine if your provider recommends it.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus spread primarily through sexual contact (vaginal, oral, anal) and by sharing drug equipment. HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a potentially fatal condition.
You can protect yourself from HIV by practicing safe sex and abstaining from illegal drug use. In addition, if you are at high risk of exposure to HIV, you can take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs.
As with any STD, see us right away if you suspect you may have been exposed. A medication known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can help prevent the development of HIV if taken within 72 hours of exposure.
We’re here to protect you from STDs and the medical complications they can cause. To schedule an appointment, contact us today at our San Antonio, Texas, office.