Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) aren’t favorite dinner table topics, but the reality of STDs can’t be ignored. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 20 million new STDs are diagnosed every year in the United States.
Most adolescents and adults make the mistake of assuming they’re safe from STDs, but the truth is that one in two sexually active people will contract an STD by the age of 25. By understanding the most common STDs and learning more about accessible STD testing methods, you can protect yourself from the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.
What Are STDs?
STDs are infections that can be passed between partners during any type of sexual contact. More than 20 forms of STDs exist in the form of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and yeast. Men and women are both vulnerable to STDs, but consistent use of condoms can greatly reduce the risk of STDs passing from one person to another.
Though they have the potential to damage your health, most STDs are actually very easy to test and treat. Any STD caused by bacteria, yeast, or parasite can be treated and even cured using standard antibiotics. Virus-based STDs can’t be cured, but medications are available to reduce symptoms and minimize the impact of the STD on your quality of life.
What Are the Most Common STDs?
Out of nearly two dozen kinds of STDs, the following are the most common for men, women, and adolescents. A Body Health IQ 10-Panel STD Test covers you for all common STDs.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) isn’t one single disease, but a group of viruses that cause warts on different parts of the body. About 40 of the 200 types of HPV are known to affect the genitals when spread from one partner to another.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. In fact, it’s so common that at least 80% of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, and most of them will contract the infection shortly after becoming sexually active.
Aside from the presence of warts, HPV rarely causes other symptoms, which makes testing especially important. HPV warts themselves aren’t dangerous, some high-risk forms of HPV can cause cancer. Only testing can identify these issues and the need for proper treatment.
Chlamydia is another common STD that infects men and women through any type of sexual activity. Since it doesn’t cause obvious symptoms, it’s easy to overlook chlamydia until serious health problems develop. Potential symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating, discharge from the vagina or penis, and rectal pain.
Since chlamydia can also be passed from a pregnant mother to her baby during childbirth, testing and treatment are essential. A simple lab test can diagnose chlamydia and antibiotics can cure the infection.
Gonorrhea, known informally as “the clap”, affects more than 800,000 Americans every year. It’s easily treated with antibiotics, but undiagnosed and untreated cases of gonorrhea can cause severe complications like pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
Just like chlamydia, gonorrhea passes from mother to baby during birth, and many women experience chlamydia and gonorrhea simultaneously. Women and Men may identify gonorrhea from symptoms including painful sexual intercourse, unusual discharge, unusual bleeding, painful joints, and vision problems.
Syphilis has the potential to become a very dangerous STD, which is why testing and early treatment are so important. Like most STDs, it can be contracted through any type of sexual contact and passed from an infected mother to her unborn baby. Fortunately, syphilis is easy to treat with antibiotics once it’s identified.
Each of the four stages of syphilis present unique symptoms. The first stage, called primary syphilis, causes sores around the site of infection, which may include the lips, mouth, or genitals. Sores are usually round, painless, and firm. The next stage, secondary syphilis, is often mild and causes a skin rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Though the third stage of syphilis doesn’t cause any symptoms, the fourth stage quickly triggers severe medical problems.
Since antibiotic treatment cannot reverse any damage syphilis has already caused, timely testing and treatment are critical.
Herpes is another common STD that can occur in oral or genital form. Oral herpes affects more than half of the U.S population, while genital herpes affects 1 in 6 Americans. Many cases of herpes don’t cause any symptoms, but it’s possible to develop herpes sores around the infected area. Herpes is a virus, so it can’t be cured, only controlled and minimized with medications.
How Often Should I Get Tested For STDs?
If you are sexually active, STD testing is one of the easiest and most essential ways to protect your health. The CDC offers specific recommendations for testing based on age, history of sexual partners, and other factors.
If you fall into any of the following categories, it is best to undergo STD testing once every year:
- All sexually active women below the age of 25
- Women above the age of 25 with multiple sexual partners, new partners, or a partner with a diagnosed STD
- All sexually active gay and bisexual men
Pregnant women also need to undergo thorough STD testing to ensure diseases can’t be passed along to their newborns at birth. It’s best to provide treatment as early into the pregnancy as possible and repeat treatments as needed.
What If I’m a Virgin or in a Monogamous Relationship?
It’s never a bad idea to be tested for STDs and confirm your health. Since STDs can be passed through activities other than intercourse, even virginity can’t guarantee you’re free from STDs. Practicing safe sex in a monogamous relationship is important but still can’t fully prevent STDs, especially since many STDs take months to reveal themselves.
Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms or engaging with new sexual partners, annual STD testing ensures that no potential STD has the chance to develop into a serious health threat.
The Bottom Line
Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that STDs can never happen to you. Sexually transmitted diseases and infections are extremely common, and fortunately, their tests and treatments are quick and simple.
Purchase one of our trusted at home STD tests today to get the protection and information that you need. It only takes a few minutes of prevention in your own home to enjoy a healthier life!”