Each year in the United States, more than 20 million people are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Because it’s possible to carry — and spread — an STD before you even know you have one, STD screenings are an important component of preventive health care for all sexually active women. Board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Steve Yu in Gaithersburg, Maryland, provides a full menu of services for women who suspect they may have a sexual infection, including comprehensive STD screening and custom treatment solutions. Call or book your appointment online today.
Regular STD testing is a vital part of maintaining optimal health for all sexually active people. If you have an infection you didn’t know about, regular testing allows you to treat the problem as quickly as possible to prevent further complications. It’s also important to find out if you have an STD so you can prevent spreading it to others.
Even if you’re in an exclusive, long-term relationship, you should still consider having regular STD screenings. That’s because it’s possible for some STDs to lay dormant for long periods of time, and either you or your partner could be carrying an infection without knowing it.
After performing a pelvic exam and going over your medical history, Dr. Yu can recommend how often you should be screened, and which tests you should have.
STD infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. While being sexually active puts you at risk of contracting an STD, roughly half of all new infections occur in teens and young adults. The most common STDs are:
Genital herpes, which is caused by the herpes simplex virus, affects one in six adults in the United States. It typically results in painful blisters or sores around your genitals or anus. Because herpes isn’t always symptomatic, however, it’s possible to carry and transmit the virus without knowing it.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea, both of which present much like a mild urinary tract infection, are the most frequently diagnosed STDs in the United States. If you don’t diagnose and treat these STDs quickly, they can lead to chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancies, and eventually cause infertility.
v Syphilis causes painless sores called chancres; you may notice rash-like spots on your feet or hands, or small flat warts on your genitals. It can also cause flu-like symptoms, including body aches. Left untreated, syphilis can lead to serious health conditions, including heart problems and nerve damage.
In addition to providing screenings for these common STDs, Dr. Yu can also test for hepatitis B and C, trichomoniasis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and HIV/AIDS, among others.
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that virtually all sexually active people can expect to contract at some point in their lives. In fact, experts surmise that most people are infected with HPV shortly after they become sexually active.
Most people who have HPV don’t have symptoms of any kind. If you test positive for sexually transmitted HPV, you’ll be told whether you have low-risk HPV or high-risk HPV.
Low-risk HPV may cause warts, or small contagious bumps, around your genital area.
High-risk HPV doesn’t cause warts, but it can lead to several types of cancer. Women who are diagnosed with high-risk HPV have a greater risk of developing cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancer.
If your abnormal Pap smear results reveal that you test positive for HPV, Dr. Yu will let you know what type you have, and what steps you should take to manage the infection and protect your health.
Although untreated STD infections can lead to serious health complications, most STDs can be cured or managed when diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.
Some STDs can be cured by taking oral medication or having a series of injections. For STDs that can’t be cured, like herpes, the right medication can help you manage your symptoms.
To learn more about STD testing and treatment, call Dr. Yu’s office or book your appointment online today.