STDs and why to test for them
By Kimberly A. Harris, RN, MSN, FNP
In the United States, 50% of young men and women who are sexually active will be infected with at least one sexually transmitted disease/illness before the age of 25.
However, most of them will not even know they’ve been infected. This information alone is reason enough for partners in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Eastern Shore, Peninsula, Hampton Roads, and North Carolina to start talking about sexual health. This discussion, although not easy to have, could be the most important one you have in your life.
Partners need to discuss their sexual history, get tested at their GYN clinic for their current status, and talk about how they will plan to prevent acquiring and/or spreading these infections between one another. If you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable having this conversation with your partner, you may not be ready to have intercourse.
Many “STDs” do not show signs or cause symptoms. For example, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia infections only cause symptoms in 25% of women and 50% of men. These two infections can be easily treated and cured, but they can cause serious health problems leading to infertility and even death if left untreated.
Syphilis, another sexually transmitted infection, is also curable if caught in the early stage by a GYN doctor. It often causes signs or symptoms that mimic other illnesses, but it can exist without symptoms for years. For example, it can cause a red bump, ulcer or rash on the body which leads the patient to a dermatologist for a diagnosis. Syphilis can also cause swollen glands, headache, malaise and fever. In the late stages, Syphilis can cause cardiovascular problems, psychosis and even dementia. Unfortunately, the number of patients in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Eastern Shore, Peninsula, Hampton Roads, and North Carolina diagnosed with syphilis is on the rise.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, a sexually transmitted disease that eventually leads to death. There are approximately 1.2 million people known to be infected with HIV in the United States with about 50,000 new cases every year. Many people who are infected with HIV will not show any signs or symptoms for months or years.
1 in 5 people with HIV are unaware that they have the disease. HIV is treatable, and the sooner treatment begins after infection, the longer the life expectancy. Additionally, recent research shows that the risk of transmitting the disease to a sex partner can be reduced by 90% if treatment with antiretroviral medication is initiated while the immune system is still healthy.
Do not wait for your partner to bring up the topic of STD prevention. When the time is right, simply state that you will be tested by your GYN doctor and you want him to be as well before having sex. This is also a great time to discuss condom use. Make up your mind in advance that this is something that you will not negotiate on.
Be sure to be tested for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Trichomoniasis, HIV, Syphillis, Hepatitis, and Herpes. The first three tests are done by genital swabbing, and the last four tests are done through blood sampling – all can be done at our GYN clinic. Please remember that there is no test available to men for HPV testing. HPV is the virus that can cause cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both partners. These screening tests are meant to protect both partners.
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If you have questions about sexually transmitted diseases, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis, Herpes, or would like to know more about STD prevention, and live in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Eastern Shore, Peninsula, Hampton Roads or North Carolina, please contact our GYN clinic at (757) 312-8221. Our GYN doctors are here to help you.
About our GYN Clinic
Our three female GYN doctors and Nurse Practitioner provide comprehensive gynecology services to women and girls of all ages in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Eastern Shore, Peninsula, Hampton Roads and North Carolina. Our health care includes testing for sexually transmitted diseases, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis, Herpes, and STD prevention.