According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least one in five Americans is living with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In addition to the health risks and possible reproductive complications that can develop when some STDs remain untreated, STD-related medical costs are in the billions.
At Midwest Regional Health Services, we offer a full range of urgent and primary care health services for men and women at our clinic in Omaha, Nebraska.
Here’s what you need to know about eight of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and how to treat them. The good news is that many STDs can be treated with medication and don’t have long-term side effects when treated early.
Chlamydia is a very common bacterial STD that’s treated with antibiotics. Many people with chlamydia don’t have symptoms, but both partners need to be treated for it in order to clear the infection. If left untreated, chlamydia could lead to fertility complications in the future.
Like chlamydia, gonorrhea can be successfully treated with antibiotics. It can infect both men and women, and is also transmissible through oral sex. Pregnant women can pass gonorrhea to their babies, so it’s important to get full STD screenings before and during pregnancy, if possible. The most common gonorrhea symptoms are painful urination, discharge, abdominal pain, and vaginal bleeding.
In addition to the rectum and cervix, gonorrhea can also develop in the throat through oral sex and affect the eyes and joints if left untreated. People with gonorrhea may also be more susceptible to contracting HIV.
Syphilis is caused by a bacterial infection and spreads through sexual intercourse, or contact with the blood or a sore from an infected person. Babies can also be exposed to syphilis in utero. In the early stage, it can be treated with penicillin. However syphilis is a progressive STD and can be dormant for years with little to no symptoms.
Late-stage syphilis can cause major organ and neurological damage. The effects of late stage syphilis aren’t curable and can result in death.
Gential herpes is caused by a sexually transmitted virus (HSV-2). HSV-1 is the virus that causes oral herpes. The most common symptom of genital herpes is sores on the genitals, but many people with herpes don’t experience symptoms. The CDC estimates that one in six people contract genital herpes.
While there’s no cure for the herpes virus, it’s treatable with medication. The virus typically lies dormant in the body, and flare-ups occur from time to time. A person with oral herpes can also infect their partner through oral sex.
Genital warts is one of the most common STDs and is caused by a type of HPV (human papillomavirus). It can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse and develop on the genitals or throat. The “warts” typically look like small, flesh-colored or cauliflower-shaped bumps, but they aren’t always visible to the naked eye. Symptoms may include itching, burning, or bleeding.
Genital warts are treated with topical medications, and there’s also a vaccine to prevent HPV infection.
This STD is caused by a parasitic infection and usually doesn’t present symptoms. Symptoms that do occur may include itching, burning, and soreness. Unlike other STDs, trich infections are confined to the vagina or penis and don’t spread to other parts of the body involved in intercourse like the mouth or anus. According to the CDC, it’s the most common STD that’s curable. However it can cause inflammation that makes people more susceptible to contracting HIV.
Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics, and it’s possible to be infected multiple times.
There are over 40 strains of human papillomavirus. Some strains cause STDs like gential warts, while others cause cervical, anal, vaginal, and oropharanx cancers. While there’s no cure or specific treatment for HPV, the virus usually clears up on its own, and symptoms like genital warts are treated topically. The best defense against HPV-related cancers is vaccination to prevent infection with the strains known to cause cancer.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse and contact with the blood of an infected person. While there’s still no known cure for HIV, the virus can be contained with antiretroviral medications. If left untreated, HIV eventually develops into full-blown AIDS.
Practicing safe sex and getting regular STD screeings is the best way to protect yourself and your partners from infection.
For more information about STD prevention, testing, and treatment, call Midwest Regional Health Services at 402-230-7945 today to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online.