Did you know that there are about 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases reported in the U.S. each year? If that number surprises you, here’s another surprising fact: many STDs have no symptoms. This means that a person can be completely unaware of the infection and spreading it to other people. There are more than a dozen STDS of which you should be aware, but let’s take a look at the three that are most common in the United States.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are roughly 80 million cases of HPV in the United States, and that number includes 14 million teenagers. There are different types of HPV, and while some have few symptoms and cause no major medical issues, other types of HPV can lead to genital warts and cancer, both of which are serious diseases. It’s estimated that there are 360,000 cases of genital warts each year and 10,000 cases of cervical cancer, but HPV can also cause oropharyngeal cancer. There’s no treatment for HPV, which often goes away on its own. Regular STD testing is a must if you’re sexually active, because you need to know if you’ve been infected, especially if you have a strain that can cause cancer. You can reduce your risk of HPV by being in a mutually monogamous relationship or using condoms, but the best way to protect yourself is by getting the HPV vaccine. It’s most effective when given between the ages of 11 and 12, and not as effective in patients over 26 years old.
- Chlamydia is the second most common, but the most reported STD. This is because it’s a notifiable STD that must be reported to local health departments when diagnosed. A bacterial infection that can be cured with antibiotics, it can affect anyone but is most common in young women. Left untreated, chlamydia can permanently and severely damage a woman’s reproductive system to the degree that she may not be able to become pregnant. Additionally, chlamydia can cause an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening. If a pregnant woman has chlamydia, it can be passed to her child. It’s important to get tested for chlamydia, because it doesn’t always have symptoms. Those who do experience symptoms report painful sex and urination, abdominal pain, rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge, and abnormal genital discharge. Abstaining from vaginal, anal, and oral sex is the most effective way to prevent chlamydia, but you can drastically reduce your chances of getting it by maintaining a long-term, monogamous relationship with a disease-free partner.
- Gonorrhea, the third most common STD, is the second most reported. This is also a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics, and delaying treatment can cause serious medical complications like pelvic inflammatory disease and an increased risk of HIV. It can cause infertility in women and ectopic pregnancies, and a mother can pass it to her child during birth. Gonorrhea can also cause rectal infections. Symptoms include painful urination, abnormal discharge from the genitals, bleeding between periods in women and swollen testicles in men. Abstinence is the only way to completely eliminate the risk of gonorrhea, but you can lower your risk by being in a mutually monogamous relationship or using latex condoms.
If you need STD treatments or testing, Total Point Urgent Care can help. The goal of Total Point Urgent Care is to be a convenient healthcare resource for our community. Providing immediate medical care at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room, our neighborhood clinics offer warm, efficient, personalized care. At our locations in Texas and Arizona, our on-site technology and services include urgent care, primary care, specialty care, routine checkups, flu shots and other vaccinations, COVID-19 testing, and onsite lab and x rays. We see urgent care walk-ins and soon, we’ll even offer virtual visits so that our patients can choose telecare instead of risking a trip to the clinic. For convenient medical care, visit one of our locations or contact us through our website.