Every year, millions of people in the United States get a sexually transmitted disease.
Knowing how to prevent STDs and what to do if you get one is an important part of being sexually healthy.
Here are answers to some questions you may have about STDs.
What is an STD?
A sexually transmitted disease comes from an infection that is passed between people when they have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. This sexually transmitted infection can then become a disease. That’s why you may hear STIs and STDs discussed together.
Sometimes STDs cause symptoms, like sores or bumps on your genitals, pain when you pee, unusual smells or discharges, or pain during sex. Other times, STDs don’t cause any symptoms. That’s why you should regularly get tested for STDs if you are having sex.
“If you receive a positive STD diagnosis, know that all are treatable with medicine and some are curable entirely,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national public health agency for the country.
Neighborhood Healthcare offers testing that is 100% confidential and safe for a low cost or for free.
What can you do to prevent STDs?
The best way to avoid STDs is to not have any kind of sex. If you do have sex, you can take steps to lower the chance that you get an STD.
First, use a condom correctly every time you have sex. While this will help, some STDs like herpes or human papillomavirus, commonly called HPV, can be passed through skin contact, even if you wear a condom.
Second, get vaccinated against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the country. The vaccine is given in two or three doses, depending on your age, and can prevent health problems like genital warts and cancer.
“Over 15 years of monitoring have shown that HPV vaccines are very safe and effective,” according to the CDC. “Like all vaccines, scientists continue to monitor HPV vaccines to ensure they are safe and effective.”
Finally, go to the doctor for regular medical checkups and get tested during them. Whether or not you have symptoms of an STD, getting tested is the only way to know if you have one.
What should you do if you have an STD?
If you are diagnosed with an STD, you should get treated right away.
“Getting an STD is not the end,” according to the CDC. “Many STDs are curable and all are treatable. If either you or your partner is infected with an STD that can be cured, both of you need to start treatment immediately to avoid getting re-infected.”
If you don’t treat an STD, it can cause worse health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, genital pain, pain during sex, and a higher chance of getting HIV.
You should tell anyone you’ve had sex with about your STD, so they can also get tested.
You can get tested and treated for STIs, STDs, HIV, and HPV at Neighborhood Healthcare, which offers in-person and video appointments, as well as free and low-cost options to eligible patients. Schedule online at nhcare.org or by calling 833-867-4642.