Did you know that sexually transmitted diseases often don’t cause symptoms? Or, that you can have mild symptoms that appear briefly then disappear? That’s why we encourage women to be proactive about STD testing.
Whether you recently met someone new, you’ve had unprotected sex, or you notice fleeting symptoms, it’s important to protect your health by scheduling STD testing at Fred A. Williams, MD.
Vital info about the most common STDs and their symptoms
The list of the most common STDs begins with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Every year there are 14 million new HPV infections reported in the US, but HPV is different from other STDs.
In most cases, the body’s immune system fights the virus and clears it out before it causes harm. In some women, however, HPV invades cells in the cervix, where it causes cervical cancer.
After HPV, chlamydia is the most common STD, with more than 1.7 million cases reported in 2017. Gonorrhea comes after chlamydia, with about 555,000 cases. The most worrisome thing about gonorrhea is that it’s on the rise. The number of people with gonorrhea increased nearly 19% from 2016 to 2017, representing an amazing 75% increase since 2009.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both known as silent diseases because they seldom cause symptoms. If symptoms appear, they’re often mild, short lasting, and generic, making them easy to confuse with other potential health problems. With both STDs, you may experience bleeding between periods, abdominal pain, pain during sex, pain or burning during urination, and a vaginal discharge.
When chlamydia and gonorrhea go untreated, they cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Women with either of these STDs have a higher risk of HIV. While rare, gonorrhea can lead to infections in your joints, blood, heart, and other parts of your body.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea in all women who are sexually active and under 25 years old. Women who are over 25 and have a high risk factor, like having a new partner, should also get yearly testing.
How to prepare for STD testing
When you come in for STD testing, we review your medical history and perform a pelvic exam to check your overall health and to look for symptoms. You don’t need to prepare for STD testing, but you can prepare for your exam by thinking back through the last several months and making a note about any symptoms you may have experienced, no matter how minor they seemed.
It helps us narrow down the possible type of STD if you can tell us:
- When your symptoms appeared
- Where they were located on your body
- How your symptoms felt
- What your symptoms looked like
- How long the symptoms lasted
We understand that many patients aren’t comfortable talking about their sex life, but our conversations are always confidential, and with more information, we can better determine the type of STD test you may need.
What you should expect during STD testing
There isn’t one test that detects all STDs. We may need to perform two or three tests, depending on whether we can narrow the suspected culprit down to a particular STD or need to test for several possible STDs.
These are the different types of STD tests:
- Blood test, which may be done by drawing a sample from your arm or using a finger prick
- Urine test, which uses the standard procedure of catching your urine in a cup
- Fluid samples, which are obtained by gently removing a sample of vaginal discharge or fluids from sores
- Pap test, which tests for HPV by taking a sample of cells from your cervix
No matter what type of test you need, you can depend on our experienced team to do it quickly and, in most cases, painlessly. If you need a blood test and you’re sensitive to needle jabs or pricks, let us know so we can provide a topical anesthetic or take steps to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible.
If you have any questions about STD testing or you’d like to schedule an appointment, call Fred A. Williams, MD, or use the online booking system.