It is important to know how to prevent STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases, also known commonly as STI’s – sexually transmitted infections).
But what about long-term effects? If they are treated immediately, are you “out of the woods?” Are there long-term effects that you should know about?
The short answer is: yes. There are long-term effects of many STD’s. And it’s important that you have all the facts that you need.
First, the most common bacterial STD in the United States is Chlamydia (click the link to read more about it on our blog). This infection can be virtually symptom-free in up to 85% women; however, the cervix is the most likely to be affected by this bacteria. Symptoms include change in discharge, bleeding after sex, and bleeding outside of monthly cycle. The Chlamydia test is a routine one, and is offered through most doctor’s offices, as well as here at Advice and Aid. Chlamydia can cause a serious infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which may lead to sepsis, shock, abscess, and even death. PID can lead to scarring of the Fallopian tubes, which could increase the risk of infertility and ectopic pregnancy (baby implanting in the tubes/ovary instead of the uterus). Chlamydia can also cause an eye infection in your baby if you are infected at delivery.
Gonorrhea is another common bacterial STD. Again, the cervix is the most commonly affected area. Symptoms are similar to Chlamydia – bleeding, change in discharge, itching, abdominal pain. Gonorrhea is also associated with PID. Gonorrhea may also lead to Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome, a chronic liver disease. Gonorrhea can also cause an eye infection in your baby; babies receive ointment in their eyes at the time of birth to prevent this infection.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD in the US, with 20 million men and women affected. This is the cause of genital warts. However, HPV leads to cervical changes that may cause cancer. Pap smears check the cervix for these precancerous changes. In the long term, HPV can lead to several different types of cancers.
Herpes simplex is another common viral STD. Both type 1 and type 2 can cause genital herpes. It is estimated that 16% of people aged 14-49 are infected. Herpes leads to lifelong infection of painful outbreaks. It is highly contagious, and most people don’t know they have it until their first outbreak. This requires antiviral medications for life. Babies born to mothers with active lesions are born with lesions all over their body, brain infections, and blindness.
Syphilis is caused by bacteria as well. A common symptom of syphilis could be an open, painless sore that is often mistaken as a seemingly harmless bump. This disease, without treatment, can cause rashes, heart disease, and brain infections. Babies born to these mothers are usually deaf, have teeth malformations, and brain malfunction. This disease is treated with penicillin.
These are just a few of the most common STD’s. Most of these are treatable, but their possible long-term effects can be extremely severe, both to you and to possible future pregnancies. It’s important that you have all of the facts before you decide to have sex. One moment of passion could lead to a lifetime of unintended consequences.
Make sure your choices are fully informed before you make them.
— Information taken from UpToDate, an evidence based medical database.
If you (or someone you know) suspects that you might have contracted an STD, you should be tested immediately.
Most doctor’s offices can provide testing, as well as here at Advice & Aid. Here, you can find compassionate, knowledgeable staff that will not only provide testing at no cost to you, but can offer the support and direction that you need. It all takes place in a confidential and helpful setting, allowing you to get the answers that you need.
Don’t put it off . . . schedule a confidential, free testing today. Information is your greatest ally.
You need to know!