Approximately 20% of the United States population has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Even if you think you’re in a monogamous relationship, if your partner cheats, you’re at risk. Even if you limit your sexual activity to intimate touch, you’re at risk.
By becoming aware of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) they cause, you have a better chance of staying safe. Although the only way to avoid STDs completely is by practicing abstinence, practicing safer sex reduces your risk.
At Elite Gynecology, our expert gynecologists, Molly McBride, MD, and Tamara Guichard, MD, want you to enjoy your life and your sexuality. But we also want you to be aware of the risks.
If you’re sexually active, getting tested regularly for STIs and STDs should be part of your well-woman routine. Following is a rundown on the six most common STDs, how they’re transmitted, and how (or if) they can be cured.
Even if you’re one of the 2.4 million people in the US who’s infected with chlamydia, you might not have any symptoms. However, untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and lead to infertility.
Chlamydia is passed through intercourse and other bodily fluid exchanges. Get checked regularly for chlamydia if you’re sexually active; it’s a bacterial infection that can be cured with a course of antibiotics.
About 1.6 million people become infected with gonorrhea each year in the US. Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. However, some strains are resistant to antibiotics, so you may need to take more than one treatment.
Chlamydia is passed through intercourse and other bodily fluid exchanges. Untreated, gonorrhea can cause sterility. Antibiotics can’t reverse damage done by the disease.
Only about 146,000 people in the US contract syphilis each year. In its early stages, syphilis is easy to cure with antibiotics. If you’re pregnant, you should be tested regularly for syphilis because it can injure your baby. The infection is passed through intercourse and other bodily fluid exchanges.
The herpes simplex virus (HSV) comes in two forms: HSV1 and HSV2. HSV1 causes oral herpes breakouts, such as cold sores around the mouth. HSV2 is usually considered “genital herpes.” However, even HSV1 can be passed to the genitals and to your reproductive organs if you practice oral sex.
Approximately 18.6 million people in this country have HSV 2. Anywhere from 50-80% of people in the US have HSV1.
Herpes doesn’t need bodily fluids for transmission. You can pass or get herpes through intimate touch alone. There’s no cure. However, you can manage outbreaks with antiviral drugs.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the top cause of cervical cancer, accounting for 95% of cases. Each year, approximately 4,000 women in the US die from cervical cancer. Getting regular Pap smears can dramatically reduce your risk of the disease.
About 42.5 million people in the US are infected with HPV. In addition to causing cervical cancer, it can also cause genital warts in both sexes. Because HPV is a virus, it can’t be cured. However, you can manage it with antiviral medication.
You can be vaccinated against HPV infection. Anyone aged 9-26 can get a vaccine. If you’re 27-45 years old, you could also get a vaccine. However, you probably have already been exposed to the virus by that age and already developed immunity.
HPV doesn’t require bodily fluid exchange for transmission. Simply touching someone intimately can lead to infection.
Just under a million people in the US are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When an HIV infection causes symptoms, it becomes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV/AIDS is transmitted through bodily fluids.
HIV/AIDS is viral, so it can’t be cured. However, antiretroviral medications slow the disease’s progression. You can also get vaccinated against HIV/AIDS.
If you think you’re suffering from the symptoms of an STD, contact our office nearest you — in Midtown East, Murray Hill, New York City, or Forest Hills, New York — or use our online appointment button.
We also have a virtual UTI/STI clinic, which features urine drop-off, 6-hour test result turnaround, and a prescription sent to your local pharmacy.