Let’s start by defining what an STI actually is. An STI (sexually transmitted infection) is an infection passed from one person to another person through sexual contact. An infection is when a bacteria, virus, or parasite enters and grows in or on your body. STIs are also commonly known as sexually transmitted diseases or STDs.
In the United States, more than 9 million women are diagnosed with an STI each year. Women often have more serious health problems from STIs than men do too. One of those health problems is infertility.
The most common STIs are chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, HPV, pubic lice, and syphilis. STIs can have a serious effect beyond the immediate impact of the infection itself. Such as:
- STIs like herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis can increase the risk of contracting HIV.
- Mother-to-child transmission of an STI can result in stillbirth, neonatal death, low birth weight and prematurity, sepsis, pneumonia, neonatal conjunctivitis, and congenital deformities.
- HPV infection can cause cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally.
- For many people, hepatitis B is a short-term illness. It can become a long-term, chronic infection that can lead to serious, even life-threatening health issues like cirrhosis or liver cancer.
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia are major causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility in women.
How To Prevent STIs
The best way to prevent any of these STIs is to not have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. If you do have sex, you can lower your risk of getting an STI with the following steps:
- Get vaccinated. There are vaccines available to protect against HPV and hepatitis B.
- Use condoms. Condoms can be your best defense against any STI if you have sexual intercourse.
- Get tested. Make sure you and your partner get tested for STIs prior to having sex.
- Monogamy. Having sex with just one faithful partner can lower your risk for STIs. Having multiple partners increases your chances of contracting an STI.
There are treatment options available for some STIs. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, and one parasitic STI, trichomoniasis, are generally curable with existing single-dose regimens of antibiotics. Currently, there is no cure for herpes and HIV. However, the most effective medications available are antivirals that can modulate the course of the disease. Hepatitis B can be treated with antiviral medications that can help to fight the virus and slow damage to the liver.
It is so important to get tested for STIs. There are resources available to prevent, test, and treat STIs. If you have concerns about any of these sexually transmitted infections it is best to consult with your doctor.
Here at OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we are dedicated to providing personalized healthcare for each and every woman. Contact us to find out why we are one of the most trusted names in women’s health.