If you have sex without using a condom, not only are you at risk of pregnancy (unless you’re using a different birth control method), but you’re also at risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease. Sexually transmitted diseases – also sometimes abbreviated STDs for short – can happen to anyone. It has nothing to do with how many partners you’ve had or even how clean your partner looks. You simply can’t accurately judge who has an STD and who doesn’t.
If you think you have the symptoms of an STD, you can’t just hope and pray that it goes away on its own. Untreated STDs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility. Dr. Alan Patterson explains more about what you should do if you suspect you have this problem.
Different types of STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases may begin with a sexually transmitted infection, especially if it goes untreated. Some of these diseases include the following:
- Genital herpes
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV), also called genital warts
We can vaccinate against HPV, which protects you against some of the most damaging strains of the virus that can lead to cervical cancer. Many of the other STDs can be treated with various antibiotics. However, HIV can turn into AIDS over time. If you’re not regularly using condoms, you should insist that your partner use them for your protection and theirs. If you’re using another form of birth control, such as the pill, you can still catch HIV from unprotected sex.
Symptoms of STDs
Some sexually transmitted diseases cause no symptoms at all, which is why you should get tested for STDs ideally before each new partner. However, in other cases, STDs do cause symptoms, which can be very uncomfortable. These symptoms include the following:
- Painful or burning urination
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Sores, bumps, or rashes on your genitals (male or female)
- Itching in or around the vagina
- Unusual discharge from either the vagina or the penis
- Unexpected bleeding after sexual activity
- Lower abdominal pain
Sexually transmitted diseases are spread by any genital contact, whether through vaginal intercourse, oral, or anal sex.
What to do next
If you have any of these symptoms, the first thing you should do is make an appointment for STD testing in my office. If you have health insurance, they will generally pay for such screenings.
If it turns out that you do have a sexually transmitted infection or disease, how we will treat you depends on which disease you have. Generally, many cases of STDs can be cleared up with a simple course of antibiotics. However, you’ll want to get tested afterward to make sure that you’re all clear.
Your partner will need to get tested as well, as will any other partners you may have had since your last STD test was performed.
Although having an STD can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable, it’s also common. It’s nothing to feel ashamed about, but it is a good reminder to practice safe sex. If you’re not using condoms, you’re putting yourself at risk.
If you think you have the symptoms of an STD, come into the office for STD testing. Contact Dr. Alan Patterson or request an appointment online.