What To Do If I'm Worried I Have Something?
If you believe that you may have an STI, it can be a demanding situation. It isn't a hopeless situation, though. You should get tested, and get treatment (if necessary) as soon as possible. You should also seek out knowledge about your situation and STIs in general. This may put your mind at ease, and allow you to avoid future situations where you would be at risk for infection.
The first step is understanding the most common STIs, their symptoms, how you may contract them, and how to treat them.
- Chlamydia - Chlamydia is a common bacterial infection. In 2014, there were 1,441,789 cases reported in the United States. The infection disproportionately affects younger individuals aged 20-24.
Individuals most often contract Chlamydia through unprotected anal, vaginal or oral intercourse. Because symptoms are not always present, it is easy for one to pass the disease to a sexual partner unknowingly.
When symptoms are present, they include painful urination and a burning sensation in the genitals. There may be swelling, and a discharge from the penis or vagina. Women may also experience abdominal pain, fever, and abnormal bleeding between periods.
To diagnose the infection, doctors may take a urine sample to check for the presence of bacteria. They may also take a swab of the urethra or cervix to analyze. Treatment for Chlamydia involves antibiotics. Azithromycin and doxycycline are among the most common prescriptions.
- Gonorrhea - - Gonorrhea is an easily contracted infection. It is most commonly present among people with many active sexual partners. It can grow in the urethra, reproductive tract, anus, or mouth. An estimate 800,000 cases of Gonorrhea occur each year in the United States. As with many other STIs, symptoms are not always present. This makes testing important for diagnosing the condition.
If symptoms do occur, the can include a malodorous discharge from the genitals. In women, symptoms may also include abdominal pain, spotting, or bleeding between periods. Men may experience swollen testes. Both men and women may experience painful urination or burning around the affected area.
Left untreated, it can result in infertility or spread to the blood and joints. Gonorrhea can also increase one's susceptibility to HIV.
Doctors will take a culture from the throat or anus, or a sample from the urethra or cervix to diagnose the disease. Urinalysis can also detect the presence of the bacterium which causes Gonorrhea.
By-and-large, the disease is curable through antibiotics. They may be injectable or oral. In both cases, it is important to discontinue sexual activity until you finish treatment. Take all prescribed medications to ensure the infection is completely cleared. Some forms of antibiotic resistant Gonorrhea exist, though healthcare workers are developing methods to circumvent these.
- Syphilis - Syphilis is very contagious. You can contract the disease through unprotected sexual or close intimate contact. The sores that are the hallmark of this infection can go unnoticed, allowing the disease to pass from one individual to another stealthily. In 2014, there were 63,450 reported cases of the disease.
The disease occurs in three stages, with each stage presenting different symptoms. In the first stage, an infected individual will develop small sores around the genitals or mouth.
Six weeks to six months after initial exposure, the second stage will begin. Individuals will develop a rash on the palms or soles of the feet. They may also experience warts, mouth ulcers, and other symptoms.
Left untreated, the disease will become latent for a period. When the third stage begins, will cause complications with the heart, brain, and nervous system. It can result in death if left unchecked.
Syphilis is easily diagnosed with a blood test. If you have had the infection for less than a year, doctors can treat it with a dose of antibiotics. Later stages of the disease will require more doses to treat it.
Inform Your Partners And Avoid Future Infections
If you suspect you have an STI, refrain from having sex and undergo testing. Once you have undergone testing, you should inform any sexual partners of your results. That way, they can take the necessary steps to get treated and inform their other sexual partners, limiting the spread of the infection.
Treatment for most common STIs will involve antibiotics. To ensure that they are effective, follow your doctor's instructions to the letter. Improper use of antibiotics can result in an infection returning, and contribute to drug resistance in certain diseases.
After you have undergone treatment, you should take steps to avoid becoming infected again. Avoid intimate contact and unprotected sex with individuals that you know have an STI. If you know for certain that a potential partner has an STI, use protection when engaging in intercourse.
By following these simple procedures, you can make sure that you get treatment for a possible STI, and limit your risk of contracting one in the future. If you suspect that something is wrong, reach out for medical advice and support resources. They can help you in coping with your situation and finding the appropriate testing and treatment options.