This April, focus on understanding and educating yourself and your family about the prevalence and danger of sexually transmitted diseases. April is STD Awareness Month, and our goal is to make sure that all of our patients understand how serious STDs are and most importantly, how to protect themselves and their partners. STDs aren’t usual topics of conversation, but the fact is that many of them have been steadily on the rise in recent years, with millions of Americans affected each year.
What Is An STD?
STDs are defined as diseases which are passed between people via sexual or intimate physical contact. STDs aren’t limited to being simply spread through sex—they can be transmitted through vaginal, oral, or anal sex, as well as simply touching one another in an intimate manner. The CDC classifies dozens of different diseases as STDs, with the most common ones being chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis, herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
There are many consequences to STDs, and they vary depending on which disease is contracted. While some STDs can lead to easily treatable discomfort, others can lead to far more long term and serious issues including cervical cancer or infertility due to damage in the fallopian tubes or uterus. Some STDs can even be transmitted to unborn babies during pregnancy or during the birth process.
What Are The Best Ways To Avoid STDs?
Practicing safe sex is the key to not transmitting STDs. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, you should still use protection if you are unsure about your partner’s STD testing status. If you haven’t been tested, or had your partner tested, speak to your doctor about your resources and options. Many STDs tests are a simple blood test, while others may require a pap smear or a visual and physical examination of the affected area.
Another way to avoid STDs is by making sure you’re having the conversation with your partners, your doctor, and your kids. Make sure that you understand your own health, can detect changes in your body, and get frequent screenings if you are sexually active. The CDC has a schedule of recommended testing for various patients, depending on risk factor and certain behaviors. While there are currently no vaccines available for most STDs, there is one that can help the spread of HPV. HPV can lead to cancer in both men and women. The vaccine is currently recommended for women through age 26 and men through age 21.
Keep Up Your Annual Wellness Exams
At The Woman’s Clinic, we focus on preventative care for all of our patients. We stress the importance of annual exams including breast exams, regular pap smears, weight and blood pressure checks, and an overall screening of your general health. If you have a concern about an STD, you can also discuss these questions with us during that exam. If you are ready to book your annual wellness exam, make an appointment today to make sure you’re monitoring your health concerns and keeping track of any changes.