Tis the season of romance! Chocolates, love notes, secret admirers, and proposals abound. And like smoke and fire, where there is romance there may also be seduction. Safe sex education initiatives have been around long enough that many may roll their eyes and sigh "I know! I know!" But, despite being at risk for sounding like a broken record, we must cover this subject once again. Around 20 million new infections occur each year in the United States. The CDC estimates the yearly healthcare cost for the treatment of the most common 8 STDs to be around 16 billion dollars!
Many STDs do not carry alarming symptoms and an infected individual may not realize that they are a carrier. All forms take time to manifest physically if they manifest at all. This is especially true with men. A man may pass an infection to partners for a long period of time before being made aware that he needs treatment.
The most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States is HPV (human papillomavirus), but the most commonly reported infection is chlamydia.
2 The reason for this discrepancy is because it can take years for HPV symptoms to arise making it difficult for someone to know they've been infected and where the infection came from. It is so common that it is estimated that most women will contract HPV at some point in their lives. Certain types of HPV can affect, not only the genitals, but the mouth and throat as well. Sexually transmitted infections can be spread regardless of whether symptoms are present. Untreated, women may develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which is linked to the development of gynecological cancers and/or infertility.
Untreated STDs are especially dangerous for pregnant women. These types of infections are known to cause miscarriage, preterm birth, birth defects, stillbirth, and may be passed to the baby during the pregnancy or birthing process.
Most STDs can be cured, but there are several that are lifelong. Protect your health and the health of your partner. Always use condoms to prevent the spread of infections and don't hesitate to let your doctor know if you have new or multiple sexual partners so that the appropriate tests can be performed.
Never let embarrassment or shyness prevent
from communicating honestly.
Those of us in reproductive healthcare have heard it all and your health is our highest priority.
For more information on this and other sexual health matters visit:
- CDC. "Incidence, Prevalence, and Cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States". CDC Fact Sheet (2013): 1-4. Web.
- "2014 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats14/chlamydia.htm>.