People often misunderstand sexually transmitted infections (STIs), more commonly known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), simply due to lack of knowledge.
According to STD-gov.org, “More than half of all people will have an STD/STI at some point in their lifetime,” and, “One in two sexually active persons will contract an STD/STI by age 25.” So, what conditions are we talking about? For starters, here‘s a list of the most common STDs, how the infections spread, and the possible outcomes.
How STDs Spread
STDs are extremely common. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 20 million new infections occur every year in the U.S. These diseases are spread easily and can be transferred from person to person through intimate contact. Some STDs don’t involve sexual intercourse and can be contracted through skin-to-skin contact with an affected area or sore.
Some people can be unaware that they are infected because STDs don’t always cause symptoms. These people are in danger of spreading an infection to their partners without realizing it — which is why it’s important to get tested if you are having sex. And your chances of contracting an STD are greater if you have:
- Sexual activity at a young age
- Multiple sex partners
- Unprotected sex
Although sometimes people who have STDs don’t experience effects, the most common STD symptoms are:
- Painful urination and pain during sexual intercourse
- Itchy, sore, and irritated genital area
- Unusual and abnormal discharge from vagina/penis (may be colored/with odor)
- Blisters or sores around genitals and anus
- Vaginal bleeding after sex
- Pain in the lower abdominal area
- Low fever and flu-like symptoms
- Pain in the testicles
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Urge to urinate often
Addressing the STD Myths
“Can I catch an STD from a public toilet?”
- Not likely. According to the CDC, catching pubic lice would be extremely rare because “lice cannot live long away from a warm human body and they do not have feet designed to hold onto or walk on smooth surfaces such as toilet seats.”
“Will I die from having an STD?”
- You should know that all STDs, even HIV, are treatable, and most are curable. Some STDs can cause serious health problems or permanent damage such as infertility in women. In the case of HIV/AIDS, an STD that attacks your immune system, death can result if left untreated.
“I’m in a relationship, so I don’t need to worry about getting an STD. Right?”
- Do you know every detail of your partner’s sexual history? Your partner may have an STD without realizing it, so it’s important to discuss sexual health and visit a doctor to both get tested before you are sexually active with a new partner.
“Does having sex in a hot tub reduce my risk?”
- Rumor has it that chlorine can kill any bacteria and reduce the risk for infection, but it does not change your risk of STDs. In fact, the chemicals might cause other vaginal infections.
“People only catch STDs through sexual intercourse, right?”
- Wrong. A common myth is that anal or oral sex does not cause STDs. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause STDs can enter the body through tiny nicks or tears in those areas.
The sooner you are tested and know your status, the better you can protect your health and the health of your partner(s). Although the best way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sex, using latex condoms every time you have sex is the next best option. Signs of STDs aren’t always obvious, and you should see a doctor even if you have minor symptoms.
Patient Plus Urgent Care offers confidential STD testing at all of our locations.
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When you’re sick or injured, whether routine or urgent, quality medical care should be easy to find and available when you need it. That’s the idea behind Patient Plus Urgent Care, with convenient locations in Baton Rouge & Prairieville
Patient Plus treats most common illnesses and injuries — the sniffles, rashes, fevers, aches, breaks, and other conditions that deserve prompt treatment but aren’t serious enough to require a trip to the nearest emergency room. The clinics provide complete diagnostic services, including X-rays, EKGs, and flu and strep tests. Other services include physicals, vaccinations, and more. Patient Plus clinics are open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and patients never need to call first or make an appointment.