If you see someone coughing and sneezing, you know you should keep your distance and wash your hands to reduce your chance of exposure to their cold. The prevention process is not always that easy when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
STDs are caused by bacteria or viruses that are transferred through bodily fluids or skin-to-skin contact. This can happen to anyone regardless of age, sexual orientation, or relationship status.
Unfortunately, STDs can be very dangerous, putting you at risk of infertility, cancer, tissue and organ damage, and even death. The only foolproof method of protection is to avoid sexual contact. Condoms do provide an excellent layer of protection against many STDs, but they can and do fail at times. If you are sexually active, you should schedule regular STD screenings and be alert for any warning signs and symptoms.
At The Well for Health, our team of discreet, caring, and nonjudgmental medical professionals can help keep you healthy by testing you for STDs and offering effective treatments if you do have one.
To get started, here’s a list of the seven of the most common STDs and their symptoms. Just be aware that you can also have an STD without any symptoms as well (and be contagious).
1. Genital herpes
Each year, approximately 572,000 new cases of herpes are diagnosed in the United States. Herpes spreads by a virus that often travels through mucus and finds its way into tiny cuts and scrapes.
Genital herpes often shows no signs, so you may need a screening to verify you don’t have it. When symptoms do occur, you may notice mild flu-like symptoms as well as itching or pain in your genital area, buttocks, or even your inner thighs. You may or may not also have little blisters or open sores in those areas as well.
2. Human papillomavirus (HPV)
More than 42 million Americans have HPV, an infection nearly everyone will get at some point during their lifetime. This virus can cause health complications ranging from cervical cancer in women to genital warts.
You’ll probably first notice itching in your genital area along with small, fleshy warts. HPV can also cause itching or bleeding during sex, and it can spread to your anus through anal sex and your mouth or throat through oral sex.
All three types of hepatitis (A, B, and C) affect your liver. Not everyone experiences symptoms from hepatitis, but they include abdominal pain, urine that’s darker than normal, nausea and vomiting, fatigue and joint pain, and fever and loss of appetite. Hepatitis can also cause jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial STD in the United States. Symptoms can take up to three weeks to develop after exposure.
Those symptoms can include pain during urination and in the lower abdomen. Women may experience vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, and pain during intercourse, while men may see discharge from their penis and notice pain in their testicles.
Syphilis is a serious bacterial infection that affects not only your genitals but also your brain and heart. It usually starts out as just a minor sore on your mouth, lips, or genitals, but over time, sores can develop all over your body. If it’s left untreated, syphilis can lead to blindness, paralysis, dementia, and death.
Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection that can infect various parts of your body (eyes, mouth, throat, anus). Symptoms usually start about 10 days after exposure, but you can also have gonorrhea for several months before noticing them. These symptoms can include:
- Painful, burning urination
- Vaginal or penile discharge
- Swollen testicles
- Itchy anus
- Painful bowel movements
- Excessive or between-period bleeding for women
7. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
HIV is a serious viral infection that attacks your immune system, making it very difficult to fight diseases and infections.
If you have HIV, you can be asymptomatic for weeks. When you do experience symptoms, you may mistake them for the flu, so the only way to know for sure if you have HIV involves getting tested.
Symptoms get worse over time as HIV deteriorates your immune cells, causing fever, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, shortness of breath, cough, and diarrhea. Left untreated, your symptoms can progress and become chronic, which leads to AIDS.
It’s time to put your health first. To learn more about STDs and to get screened, call our Mooresville, North Carolina office at 704-459-5296 or use our online scheduler to request a phone consultation.