The importance of STD testing for women in Chicago,
STD testing is something that every person who is sexually active should have done at least once, and for some, even more regularly. Still, in the United States, over half of sexually active people under the age of 25 will have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, and many will not even know they have it.
While the thought of bringing up STD testing can seem embarrassing, the truth is that it is one of the most important ways sexually active adults can protect their health, and in many cases, it can be life-saving. When certain STDs are left untreated they can lead to serious conditions such as cancer and infertility.
At Northwestern Women’s Health Associates, we encourage our patients to have an open and honest dialogue with us about sexual health and the risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Together, we can come up with a testing plan that makes sense based on your lifestyle and other risk factors.
What are STDs?
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are a group of infections that are transmitted between partners during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. STDs are common and can be dangerous, but the good news is that most of them are curable with treatment. The biggest thing to be aware of is that many STDs do not show symptoms, so it’s important to get tested. STDs do not discriminate, anyone can get them, so it’s important to stay proactive to protect your health.
We recommend STD testing in the following situations:
- New sexual partners – You should receive testing if you are having sexual relations with a new person.
- Unprotected sex – Having sex without protection increases the risk of contracting a STD. You should have testing if you are having any type of unprotected sex.
- High-risk behaviors – If you engage in certain behaviors such as multiple partners, IV drug use, or sexual relations with a sex worker, you should receive frequent STD testing.
- Exhibiting symptoms of STDs – If you notice symptoms that seem out of the ordinary, contact your gynecologist about testing. Some of the most common symptoms to look for include:
- Frequent urination
- Pain while urinating
- Unusual discharge
- Blisters or sores on the genitals or anus
- Painful intercourse
- Flu-like symptoms
Types of STDs
There are many different types of sexually transmitted diseases and most of them look different from one another. Some of the more common ones are:
Chlamydia – A type of bacterial infection that often has very little symptoms. Some warning signs may include abdominal pain, pain during sex, pain when urinating, and genital discharge.
Gonorrhea – A bacterial infection that begins showing symptoms about 2-10 days after exposure. Some warning signs may include burning/pain when urinating, abnormal menstrual cycles, cloudy/bloody discharge, anal itching, and painful bowel movement.
HIV – This is the STD that scares most people because it’s well known as a precursor to aids. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) impacts the body’s ability to fight off viruses. Early warning signs may include headache, fever, sore throat, or fatigue and are often brushed aside as a simple cold. Later, symptoms may develop such as weight loss, diarrhea, night sweats, and persistent fatigue
Herpes – A highly contagious virus, herpes presents in outbreaks, with the first often being the worst. Most common symptoms are red genital bumps accompanied by itching or pain.
Hepatitis – A type of contagious viral infection that affects the liver. There are three types: A, B, and C. Some warning signs may include nausea, dark urine, loss of appetite, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain.
Syphilis – A type of bacterial infection that can affect several parts of the body. In some cases, patients may have congenital syphilis which was passed from mother to baby. Some warning signs may include genital sores, enlarged lymph nodes, body rashes, fever, and soreness. Advanced syphilis can lead to neurological and cardiovascular problems.
If you are sexually active, it’s important to have an honest conversation with your doctor and ask about the availability of STD testing. Northwestern Women’s Health Associates in Chicago, provides convenient and confidential testing as well as treatment options for patients in the area. If you would like to learn more, please call us at 312-440-9400.