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STD / STI – Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Sexually Transmitted Infections

Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STI) occur every year in the US. Are you infected? Know for sure. Get tested at InnerVisions HealthCare today.He said he is clean. He promised he “never” does this. It was my first time.

STD/STIs are no respecters of person. Just because someone says they are clean, doesn’t mean they’ve been tested. They may think they are clean, but in reality, they aren’t. And, get this, just because you don’t see any symptoms of infection doesn’t mean the infections aren’t there. Some STD/STI have no symptoms and go undetected until you are tested. Check out the incubation periods for the most common STD/STI: www.verywellhealth.com/how-long-before-std-symptoms-appear

Also, just because it was your first time doesn’t mean it was your partner’s. Even if your partner says it was their first time, how can you be sure? Every person you have sexual contact with exposes you to their sexual past, and the sexual past of everyone they’ve been with.

According to Zava, a medical website, if you have had 3 partners and your partner had 3 partners, you have been indirectly exposed to 1,092 people and their possible STD/STIs. Scary isn’t it? The more sexual partners you have, the more exposure you have. It’s just that simple.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in this country, half among young people ages 15 – 24. STD/STIs are very serious issues, and if untreated, can cause lifetime complications.

STD/STIs can be viral or non-viral. Non-viral STD? STIs can be treated and cured if caught in time. Viral STDs are not curable. Yep, that’s right. Viral STD/STIs are with you for life.

One deadly viral STD/STI is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). According to the CDC, 79 million Americans are infected with HPV. The worst part is, there is no test to detect if you’ve been infected. You only know if you’re positive if symptoms arise, or you come up with an abnormal Pap test. HPV is linked to genital warts, and a variety of cancers including cervical cancer. Every year close to 20,000 women are affected by cancers that are linked to HPV. That’s a lot of women.

Look, a lot of people are afraid to talk about STD/STIs because they could be embarrassed or ashamed. You have nothing to be ashamed of. We are all so much more alike than we are different. Unless you are abstinent (not engaging in any sexual behavior) you are susceptible to infection. We don’t judge, we just want to help you become educated about your body. Contact us to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our licensed medical providers for your FREE STD/STI test.

What are the symptoms of a STD/STI?

Depending on The STD/STI, there may be zero symptoms, subtle symptoms, or raging symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to get tested so you know your next step of action.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some typical symptoms of an STD/STI. Just because you have one or more of these symptoms, it does NOT mean you have an infection. It is important to really make sure you are taking the best care of your body now and for your future!

  • Painful urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Pain during sexual intercourse in women
  • Bleeding between periods in women
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods
  • Painful, swollen testicles
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Anal itching
  • Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the vagina
  • Clear, white, greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Strong vaginal odor
  • Vaginal itching or irritation
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rash
  • Fatigue

Here are a few symptoms for men:

  • Any type of discharge from the penis
  • Testicular pain
  • Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the penis
  • Itching or irritation inside the penis

Want to know more? Click here to see the most common types of STD/STIs and their symptoms

Some STD/STI myths:

  • I won’t get it if we just do it orally. WRONG!
  • As long as he pulls out, I’m ok. WRONG!
  • We just do it anally, not vaginally. WRONG!
  • I’m safe with sexual contact because I don’t have any penetration and we just touch each other. WRONG!

How Do I Get A STD/STI?

A STD/STI is transmitted sexually. That is any type of sexual contact. This includes genital touching, vaginal, oral and anal sex. Yes! Even genital touching can spread infection. If you are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, have several partners, or just one partner you are at risk of exposure.

How Can I protect myself from an STD/STI?

  • Abstinence: The best and most effective way to protect yourself from an STD/STI and/or unwanted pregnancy is abstinence. In fact, abstinence is 100% effective 100% of the time. Some of you might be thinking that everyone has sex. But, it’s simply not true. There are a lot more people practicing abstinence than you think. The Center of Disease Control found that 40% of high school students were practicing abstinence. That’s a lot!
  • Stand in Your Power: Engaging in any type of sexual activity is an extremely personal choice that encompasses your body and mind. This decision can have lifelong effects that include pregnancy and STD/STIs. The most important thing is that you take care of you. Communicate your sexual past with your partner, and ask them questions about theirs. If you choose to continue to engage in any sexual activity, demand to use a condom. This is your life. It is wrong to feel manipulated, pressured or coerced into engaging in sexual activity. You have the right and the power to say NO in any situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re just about to have sex right at that second and your change your mind. You can say no at any time.

If you feel like you may be in a situation where you can’t say no or you are in fear for your safety, you may be involved in an abusive situation. Not sure? Click here to learn what abuse is, the warning signs and some resources.

Note To Parents and Mentors:

Life brings all kinds of challenges we weren’t expecting, including STD/STI and pregnancy concerns. If someone comes to you with concerns about their sexuality or sexual activities, listen and let them share. Coming to you means they trust you, and they feel like you will offer them sound guidance. Make sure you listen and ask questions as to best hear them. Try not to shame them or sound disappointed. It takes great courage to chat with parents or adult mentors about their personal sex life and preferences. If you feel unable to help them, then give us a call. We are here to help you as well! We can suggest great resources and are happy to help out!

Sources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline (www.thehotline.org)

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in this country, half among young people ages 15-24.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) are serious issues.  If you are sexually active and have not been tested in the past year – InnerVisions HealthCare will happily provide FREE STD testing for you and/or your partner.  These services are Confidential and without Judgment.  STDs can be viral or non-viral. Non-viral STDs can be treated and cured if caught in a timely manner. Viral STDs are not curable, meaning they may be with you for life.   Many of the symptoms of non-viral STDs may be treatable; however it is something that you may have to deal with for the long haul.

Some common STD/STI to be tested for are:

CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia is a common STD caused by bacteria (Chlamydia trachomatis).  It can damage a woman’s reproductive organs, even causing her to be unable to have a child.  Because symptoms of chlamydia are mild or absent, it can cause permanent damage that cannot be undone before a person even knows about it.

GONORRHEA

Gonorrhea is a common STD caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb) and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women and the urethra (urine canal) in women and men.  The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus.

GENITAL HERPES

Genital Herpes is an STD caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2).  Most people have few or no signs or symptoms from the infection.  When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum.  The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur.  Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it is almost always less severe and shorter than the first outbreak.  Although the infection may never leave the body, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years.

HIV

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.  This virus may be passed from one person to another through sexual and blood-to-blood contact.  This happens when a person’s infected semen, vaginal fluids, or blood come in contact with an uninfected person’s broken skin or mucous membranes.  A mucous membrane is wet, thin tissue found in certain openings to the human body.  These can include the mouth, eyes, nose, vagina, rectum and opening of the penis.  In addition, an infected pregnant woman can pass HIV to her baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding.  Some of the people who have HIV infection will develop AIDS as a result.

SYPHILIS

Syphilis is an STD caused by a type of bacteria (Treponema pallidum).  It has often been called “the great imitator” because so many of the signs and symptoms are exactly like the symptoms of other diseases.

HEPATITIS C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is found in the blood of persons who have the disease.  HCV is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person.  Hepatitis C can be sexually transmitted.

HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV)

HPV is a STD that is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).  Human papillomavirus is the name of a group of viruses that include more than 100 different types.  More than 40 of these viruses are sexually transmitted and they can infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, vulva (area outside the vagina) or anus and the linings of the vagina, cervix or rectum.  Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own.  However, some of the viruses are called “high-risk” types and may cause abnormal Pap tests.  They may also lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, throat or mouth.  Others are called “low-risk” types and they may cause mild Pap test abnormalities or genital warts.  Genital warts are single or multiple grows or bumps that appear in the genital area of men and women.

Email a nurse with your questions and for more information:  RNStaff@innervisionshealthcare.org

Call us to schedule your appointment 515-440-2273.