In the year 2016, more than 2 million people in America were reported to be suffering from a Sexually Transmitted Disease. And as per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis were the three most common and untreated STDs among them. That was in 2016, but the numbers of such cases have been increasing at an alarming rate.
With so many cases, it is very important to look for solutions to prevent these from happening in the first place rather than looking for treatment later on. The most common types of Sexually Transmitted Diseases include genital herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea, other than these the cases of HIV are on the rise as well.
When it comes to preventing Sexually Transmitted Diseases, there is no better method like the one that involves total abstinence. But since that might not be practical for some, what people can do instead is to get themselves and their partners checked for any infections before starting a sexual relationship with them. Another way to prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases is the use of condoms when engaging in a sexual act. Condoms are the number one way to prevent infections from spreading from an infected person to a healthy one.
Additionally, women age 21 and older should go for regular pap smear tests. These help in tracking down any infection related to human papillomavirus and stop it in its tracks before it leads to something serious like cervical cancer. Aside from that, women should also go for periodic tests and pelvic checkups once they are sexually active.
The main reason why regular tests are so important is that because most Sexually Transmitted Diseases do not show any symptoms, which is why tests are recommended. Regular tests help catch these early on and prevent the infection from turning into serious complications such as PID or pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and cervical cancer.
Short & Long Term Consequences of untreated STDs
Getting tested for an STD is imperative as if they are not detected early on, there are many risks involved like:
Spreading it to other people
Sexually Transmitted Diseases like human papillomavirus can be passed on from one person to another, even after using a condom. Being asymptomatic does not always mean that a person does not have an STD, which is why testing is important.
Some Sexually Transmitted Diseases like HIV, Genital herpes, hepatitis B, and human papillomavirus are not completely curable, but being tested for these can help the medical health experts to provide certain medications to help manage it easily, and it also reduces the chances of transmitting it to others. For instance, in the case of HIV, antiretroviral medications help manage it and bring the concentration of the virus in the body to very low levels, which means that the chances of that person infecting others is close to zero.
Some Sexually Transmitted Diseases like Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are treatable. Still, if they are not caught early on, they can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in females and can cause infertility problems in both men and women.
You should get tested for a Sexually Transmitted Disease if you are planning to have a baby. All women aged 24 and above should get tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea as per the USPSTF or U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force further recommends the testing of Syphilis in men and women that are sexually active as well as women that are pregnant.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, if left untreated, can put both the mother and her baby at risk. These can cause premature births, stillbirths, and miscarriages, along with posing the risk of getting the disease transmitted from the mother to the baby via normal birth. In worse case scenarios, these STDs can also be highly fatal for the baby.
If a mother is aware of her status regarding any kind of Sexually Transmitted Diseases that she might have, that can greatly help in reducing the risk of developing complications for both the baby and the mother herself. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administering antiretroviral medicines in women that are pregnant have reduced the risk of getting the infection transmitted from the mother to the baby to a great extent in the United States.
Risk of getting HIV
Some Sexually Transmitted Diseases like herpes, Syphilis that cause lesions and sores can also increase the risk of contracting HIV. These sores are an easy breeding ground for pathogens, and through these portals, they enter the body. When a person catches a Sexually Transmitted Disease, an immune response is seen in the genital area with it being inflamed and simultaneously flooded with immune cells to fight it off.
The CD4 T-cells are the ones that play a very important part in the body’s immune system. Unfortunately, HIV targets these cells.
Additionally, having a Sexually Transmitted Disease or HIV spurs the level of virus shedding in the genital area. The more the number of virus shedding, the greater chance of spreading it to someone else. The only solution to this is by getting tested for a possible Sexually Transmitted Disease and HIV. The medications provided for these can help keep the level of the virus very low in the body and also prevent it from getting transmitted.
Risk of complications
Since most Sexually Transmitted Diseases do not cause any signs and symptoms, these can take years to develop into something serious. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, if they are not treated on time, can cause very serious health issues in the future. Some of the complications that one can develop from an untreated STD are:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility by Chlamydia
- Pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility by Gonorrhea
- Meningitis and bladder issues by Genital herpes
- Liver cancer and cirrhosis by Hepatitis B
- Reduced life expectancy by HIV
- Cervical and rectal cancer by human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Dementia, heart, brain, eyes, kidneys, and bones damage, blindness by Syphilis
Most people dodge getting tested for a Sexually Transmitted Disease because they get scared of finding out that they may be suffering from something serious. At the same time, some conclude that since they are not experiencing any symptoms, they do not have them.
Getting tested for a Sexually Transmitted Disease can be daunting, but its benefits greatly outweigh its risks in the long run. If STDs are caught early on, the chances of getting them treated increases exponentially. If you are thinking of starting a sexual relationship with someone, it is recommended to get yourself and your partner tested for that. The untreated STD can lead to unwanted medical concerns in the future which can even cause life-threatening diseases.
Being aware of your status regarding any Sexually Transmitted Disease that you might have helps you and your partner to be more informed and reduces the chances of blaming each other in the end. Sexually Transmitted Diseases are a serious matter, and so being more proactive will definitely help you in the long run.
- STD Facts in detail: Reference from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention
- Addressing STD : Reference from National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Diseases