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Common STDs and How to Prevent Them

Common STDs and How to Prevent Them

Sexually transmitted diseases are something everyone needs to think about. Over 20 million people are diagnosed with an STD each year, so learning about steps you can take to prevent them is critical.

Dr. Gurprit Sekhon and the Nu Wave Medical Center team are highly invested in educating you about STDs and discussing effective prevention strategies, as well as providing you with a wide range of services.

What are the most common STDs in the United States?

There are six STDs that are the most commonly diagnosed, and most end up eventually causing pain during sex. These are:

1. HPV (human papillomavirus)

Most people contract HPV at some point in their lives, and most clear the virus. However, if your body doesn’t, it can cause genital warts and lead to cervical cancer, penile cancer, and cancers of the mouth and throat.

The most effective way to prevent HPV is getting the HPV vaccine. These are recommended for boys and girls who are 11 or 12 years old, though adults up to age 45 can get them if they’re unvaccinated.  

2. Chlamydia and gonorrhea

Chlamydia is a bacterial disease that’s spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. You can feel burning when you urinate or notice vaginal discharge if you’re a woman, but many people experience no symptoms. Since chlamydia is bacterial, antibiotics are an appropriate treatment. Testing at one to three months post-treatment is also advised, for you and your partner.

Gonorrhea is also bacterial and has similar symptoms to chlamydia. People often get these two STDs together, and while men often show symptoms, about 80% of women don’t.

3. Syphilis

This STD has four stages. The first is a sore that can easily be dismissed as an ingrown hair or a cut. Next comes a rash and sores on your vagina, anus, or mouth. The third stage is one with no symptoms, which can last for years, and the final stage features brain problems, as well as nerve and organ damage. 

Antibiotics clear up syphilis, and the quicker they’re administered, the faster you’re cured. 

4. Herpes 

Typically with herpes, you get blisters on your vagina, penis, or anus. Herpes is highly contagious, especially when you’re having an outbreak of blisters, but you can also be contagious even if you don’t have any blisters. Herpes can be spread just with skin-to-skin contact. 

There’s no cure for herpes, but there are medications to manage it. 

5. Trichomoniasis

This STD is caused by a minute parasite, and it affects many more women than men. It often causes no symptoms, though you may experience burning, itchy, or painful genitals. An odoriferous discharge can also accompany it that can be clear, white, yellow, or green. 

Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics, but you need to be retested within three months after treatment to ensure you’re free of it. Your partner should also be tested.

6. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) 

The HIV virus causes AIDS, and it’s spread by having unprotected sex or sharing a needle with an infected person, and through exposure to body fluids. These include semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and breast milk, but not saliva. The virus eventually makes your body unable to fight infections. 

There’s no cure for HIV, but medications exist that enable people who have been diagnosed with it to live long, normal lives. 

STDs overall are more serious for women, and can cause infertility. 

How to prevent and treat STDs

Though condoms can discourage the spread of STDs, the only guaranteed prevention is abstaining from sex. If you’re sexually active, you need to be tested regularly for STDs in order to be treated should you contract one. 

If Dr. Sekhon tests you for an STD, usually by taking a blood or urine sample, results come back quickly, thanks to our on-site lab. And don’t worry, all testing is confidential. 

If your test comes back positive and you’re diagnosed with an STD, know that Dr. Sekhon has all the appropriate treatments available for you. She can prescribe antibiotics if needed, or treatments that manage your symptoms if you have a viral STD. 

A discussion about STDs and sexual health is standard at your annual wellness exam with Dr. Sekhon. Call our office to schedule an appointment, or book one online

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