Unfortunately, there’s still shame and stigma around sexually transmitted diseases, but it’s important to know that they’re common, they’re treatable, and many are curable.
It’s estimated that 20 million Americans are affected by STDs annually. The most at-risk groups are people aged 15-24, gay and bisexual men, racial and ethnic minority groups, and pregnant women.
So try not to feel embarrassed about seeking testing or treatment for an STD. It’s smart to be proactive about your health, and this certainly includes STDs.
Dr. Gurprit Sekhon offers STD testing and treatment with compassion and no judgment, along with many other in-demand services. Her goal is to provide you with treatment so you can feel better and stop worrying about the problem. Often, eradicating an STD just takes a single dose of antibiotics, depending on the STD.
The most commonly diagnosed STDs
Chances are if you have an STD, it’s going to be one of a half dozen that are the most prevalent ones we see. It’s important for you to be familiar with the symptoms and risks of these, so you know to seek treatment if you notice anything unusual:
Syphilis should be treated early with penicillin. It starts out as a sore, but this is followed by more sores and a rash in the mouth or on the vagina or anus. If it progresses further, you may experience no symptoms, but end-stage syphilis affects the brain and damages the organs and nerves.
2. Human papillomavirus (HPV)
There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t contracted HPV, and the body clears the virus in the vast majority of people. The problem is, if you don’t clear it, you can develop genital warts, mouth and throat cancers, and penile or cervical cancer.
We’re lucky that an HPV vaccine was developed, and it’s a standard preventive treatment now for early adolescents. However, if you’re an unvaccinated adult who’s 45 years or under, you can still get the shot’s benefits.
3. Gonorrhea and chlamydia
Both of these STDs are bacterial, and their symptoms resemble each other — men may experience burning while urinating, discharge from the penis, testicular tenderness and swelling, and pain at the opening of the penis.
Women might notice bleeding between periods, odorous vaginal discharge, painful urination or intercourse, and vaginal pain. Fever and abdominal pain also occur.
Other body parts can be affected by chlamydia too, with symptoms like eye pain, redness, and discharge and anal discharge and sensitivity.
Men tend to show symptoms of both chlamydia and gonorrhea, while over ¾ of women don’t experience obvious symptoms. This is why testing is so important.
Unfortunately, gonorrhea and chlamydia are often diagnosed at the same time, but treatment with antibiotics is the cure. You and your partner should be retested after treatment.
The hard-to-miss symptoms of herpes include blisters that can be painful or painless. They emerge on the penis, vagina, or anus.
Herpes is very contagious — whether you have an outbreak of blisters or not — and though it isn’t curable, Dr. Sekhon manages it by prescribing effective medication. Another critical thing to know about herpes is that, in addition to being spread through sexual contact, it’s also spread merely from skin-to-skin contact.
5. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
HIV causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), and though it isn’t spread through saliva, it’s spread through other bodily fluids (semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, and blood), unprotected sex, and needle sharing.
With this virus, as its name suggests, your immune system is compromised, so much that it becomes impossible to battle infections. Like herpes, there’s no cure for HIV, but it can be managed through medications.
Trichomoniasis is a parasitic disease, and women most often show symptoms like vaginal pain, burning, and itching, as well as vaginal discharge with an odor. Men rarely show symptoms.
Antibiotic treatment knocks it out, and you can significantly lower your risk of getting it if you use condoms when you have sex. Retesting after three months is necessary after you’ve been treated.
How are STDs tested for?
Since abstaining from sex is the only way to guarantee you won’t get an STD, regular testing is essential. STDs are routinely discussed when you come for your annual wellness exam, so that should make you more comfortable when you see Dr. Sekhon.
We typically take blood and urine samples to test for STDs, and thanks to our in-office lab, there are no long waiting periods for results. All testing is completely confidential.
Know that you’re in the best hands if you suspect you have an STD, and that you’ll always be treated with respect here at Nu Wave Medical Center.
To schedule an appointment, call 850-493-6948, or get in touch with us online.