A few more STIs to know

“The silent sickness”

#1 : Chlamydia is another very common sexually transmitted infection that can damage a woman’s reproductive organs. It is transmitted through intercourse and oral sex.  Any sexually active person can get chlamydia but teenage girls and young women are MOST susceptible because the cervix does not fully mature until later (the cervix provides a little protection when mature).

Both men and women can be infected with the chlamydia bacteria, but it is much more dangerous for women, particularly because it often goes unnoticed. It is “silent” because three quarters of infected women and half of all infected men have no symptoms. However, the damage (as with most STIs) is life-changing. It can cause permanent damage to many of the reproductive organs and it also can cause infertility (the inability to get pregnant).

However, chlamydia is a bacterial disease so it can be treated with antibiotics. If you are a sexually active female under 25, you should be screened annually or anytime you failed to have him wear a condom, or you simply need to know if you are STI free!

DID YOU KNOW? An estimated 2.8 million chlamydia infections occur each year in the U.S. alone.

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm)

#2 : Gonorrhea is a bacterial STI. It affects mucous membranes. Symptoms include (this is kind of gross so just lettin’ ya know) a yellowish discharge from the genitals and painful urination. Because it is a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, it can cause  lots of problems with other organs. So, talk to your doctor about being tested for it when you become sexually active. Keep yourself and your partner safe!

#3 : Syphilis is another bacterial infection (and you know what that means…. if not, read about gonorrhea above) that can affect many parts of the body. It can even damage your brain. It is often referred to as the “great imitator” because its symptoms often look like those of other STIs and so, it is often misdiagnosed. What are those symptoms? Well, IF you DO get symptoms, usually a sore (heard that before?) and later followed by a rash.

See picture, not pretty right? Now imagine them on your genitals… picture from https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/images/back.jpg)

In an advanced stage it can cause mental disorders, blindness, heart problems, paralysis and even death. Christopher Columbus, Al Capone, Napoleon and many other famous historical peeps all died from syphilis… but we are guessing you don’t want to join that famous crew. When caught early, syphilis can be treated with antibiotics and cured! Anyone with a high risk lifestyle (unprotected sex, lots of partners…), should be screened yearly, if not more often, for syphilis (and all sorts of STIs!).

#4 : Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a general infection of the female reproductive organs. Females generally become infected with PID after contracting another STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. If left untreated, PID can lead to sterility, chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancies.

DID YOU KNOW? In the US, about 1 million women have PID each year. About 1 in 8 sexually active adolescent girls will develop PID before age 20.

(Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001890/)

Symptoms include:

  • Fever (not always present and may come and go)
  • Pain/tenderness in the pelvis or lower abdomen
  • Vaginal discharge with an abnormal color, texture or smell

Diagnosis can be determined through a pelvic exam and lab tests. PID is treated through a course of antibiotics, severe cases may require a hospital stay.

To prevent PID, seek treatment immediately, especially if you think you have an STI or any type of infection. Practice safe sex… or do not have sex at all.

DID YOU KNOW? You are more likely to develop PID if you have multiple sexual partners, have a partner with chlamydia or gonorrhea, OR ARE SEXUALLY ACTIVE DURING ADOLESCENCE.

Now on to the good news… You can protect yourself from all of these diseases. Read on to find out how…

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