5 Asymptomatic STDs You Do Need To Be Concerned With

5 Asymptomatic STDs You Do Need To Be Concerned With

Do you remem­ber sex edu­ca­tion class where you were shown pic­tures of STDs and heard hor­ror sto­ries? The prob­lem with these sto­ries is that they are decep­tive, as many STDs have no symp­toms and it’s impos­si­ble for teenagers to know if they actu­al­ly have an STD or not.

STDs are not life-chang­ing infec­tions that can trau­ma­tize a per­son so deep that they can’t see past the infec­tion. The real­i­ty is that a good num­ber of STDs, espe­cial­ly the more com­mon ones, can be treat­ed with antibi­otics and oth­er STDs can be man­aged using med­ica­tion. In most cas­es, peo­ple don’t even real­ize they have an STD as most nev­er get symp­toms or very sub­tle ones.

It’s why many orga­ni­za­tions would rather use the term sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tion (STI) over STD, which is not­ed as being a con­di­tion that affects nor­mal func­tions and has symp­toms of a dis­ease. Still, the two terms are often inter­changed with each other.

If you’re hav­ing sex (unpro­tect­ed sex at that), the chances of get­ting a sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­ease are high. Accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, there are 20 mil­lion new infec­tions every year in the U.S. With such a high num­ber, it’s imper­a­tive to get test­ed often, talk to your part­ners about test­ing and be hon­est with your doc­tor about your sex­u­al activity.

While con­doms can pro­tect you from most STDs, they don’t pro­tect from all of them. Since STDs can infect the body and cause no symp­toms, it can cause major health prob­lems if untreated.

Syphilis, HIV and oth­er sim­i­lar dis­eases can stay in the body for some time before final­ly show­ing symp­toms. In the major­i­ty of STD cas­es, a per­son will have signs of a dis­ease. How­ev­er, the few sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­eases that don’t show signs are called asymp­to­matic, and no one knows they have it until they suf­fer from side effects of the disease.

There are sev­er­al asymp­to­matic STDs that you should keep in mind. These dis­eases should be a reminder that it’s impor­tant to prac­tice safe sex and get test­ed each time you have a new part­ner or want to become pregnant.

Human Papil­lo­mavirus (HPV)

This is a sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tion, and one the con­dom can’t pro­tect you from. Most peo­ple will catch HPV at some point in their life and nev­er know it. A per­son can car­ry the dis­ease and pass it on with­out any phys­i­cal symp­toms of the dis­ease. Why is that? Some strains will lead to gen­i­tal warts while oth­ers don’t.

HPV isn’t a rou­tine screen­ing tool for women under 30, as in most cas­es the dis­ease comes and go. If you’re over the age of 30, screen­ing for the infec­tion when you get your Pap smear is a must. That’s because sev­er­al HPV strains can lead to cer­vi­cal can­cer. An abnor­mal Pap smear will show changes in the cells, and depend­ing on the kind of cell abnor­mal­i­ty you have, your doc­tor may test you for HPV.

Chlamydia

The most com­mon sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tion in women under the age of 25 is chlamy­dia. It’s called a silent infec­tion, as most peo­ple don’t know they have it because they have symp­toms. It can take weeks after hav­ing sex with an infect­ed per­son to devel­op signs such as a burn­ing sen­sa­tion while pee­ing or vagi­nal dis­charge. By this point, the infec­tion may have already infect­ed the uri­nary tract.

These symp­toms are also signs of bac­te­r­i­al vagi­nosis or a yeast infec­tion, but if you’ve had unpro­tect­ed sex recent­ly, it’s a good idea to see your doc­tor and get test­ed. Untreat­ed chlamy­dia can lead to dam­age in the fal­lop­i­an tubes and uterus, which will also lead to pelvic inflam­ma­to­ry dis­ease. PID can cause scar­ring in the fal­lop­i­an tubes, which can lead to infer­til­i­ty. Accord­ing to the CDC, 24,000 women are infer­tile each year before of untreat­ed STD.

On top of that, scar­ring can lead to ectopic preg­nan­cies, which could be fatal for both mom and baby. Chlamy­dia can lead to pre­ma­ture births and be passed to a baby dur­ing a vagi­nal deliv­ery. When this hap­pens, a baby may have pneu­mo­nia or eye infec­tion. Chlamy­dia also increas­es the chance of women catch­ing HIV.

Women can pro­tect them­selves by get­ting year­ly screen­ings. It may seem like a bit much, but since it’s an asymp­to­matic dis­ease that can cause real dam­age to the repro­duc­tive sys­tem, it’s bet­ter to be safe than sor­ry. Chlamy­dia is treat­able with a course of antibi­otics, espe­cial­ly if you catch it in the ear­ly stages.

Gonorrhea

Gon­or­rhea is anoth­er com­mon STD in women under the age of 25, with most nev­er expe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms of the dis­ease. Despite being two dif­fer­ent dis­eases, it’s not uncom­mon for gon­or­rhea and chlamy­dia to be diag­nosed simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Gon­or­rhea has very mild side effects such as vagi­nal dis­charge, abnor­mal bleed­ing and burn­ing and pain sim­i­lar to a vagi­nal or blad­der infection. 

If untreat­ed, it can also cause PID and scar­ring of the repro­duc­tive organs. It also increas­es a person’s chance of catch­ing HIV and may lead to life-alter­ing infec­tions in the body, affect­ing the joints, blood, brain and heart. A preg­nant woman with gon­or­rhea may have a pre­ma­ture birth or mis­car­riage. Her unborn child may be under­weight and suf­fer from a blood infec­tion or blindness. 

At-risk women are urged to get test­ed every year, and if you test pos­i­tive for the dis­ease, a course of antibi­otics can cure it. 

Herpes

This is a viral infec­tion that can be found on the gen­i­tal and mouth. There are two her­pes virus­es – her­pes sim­plex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or the her­pes sim­plex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Of these, the HSV-2 is the one that gen­er­al­ly caus­es gen­i­tal warts, but it’s not unheard for the HSV-1 virus to cause them too. 

The CDC says about one in six peo­ple ages 14 to 49 have gen­i­tal her­pes. Most peo­ple, when they think of her­pes, pic­ture red blis­ters that are painful to con­tend with. Did you know that many peo­ple do not get this sign? In fact, near­ly 90 per­cent of peo­ple who have HSV-2 do not know they have the disease. 

When you have a her­pes out­break, you are at high­er risk for spread­ing the dis­ease. How­ev­er, it can still spread with­out the pres­ence of sores. And, con­doms are not always a fool­proof method in pro­tect­ing you from catch­ing it. 

Pro­tect­ing your­self from this virus is cru­cial. You must use bar­ri­er tech­niques like den­tal dams and con­doms each time you have sex. Even if you prac­tice safe sex, it is still quite pos­si­ble to catch the disease. 

Despite that real­i­ty, the CDC has not rec­om­mend­ed rou­tine her­pes screen­ing. Why? There is no cure for the dis­ease, but symp­toms can be man­aged. And, the only time you can be treat­ed is when you have symp­toms. Talk to your sex part­ner about her­pes and find out if they’ve been test­ed recent­ly for STDs. If you insist on hav­ing sex with an infect­ed part­ner, be sure to use a den­tal dam or con­dom to mit­i­gate the chances of you catch­ing the dis­ease. Just remem­ber that there is no fool­proof way to pro­tect your­self and you could still catch the disease. 

Be sure to see your doc­tor if you think you have her­pes. You can get a blood test to see if there are any her­pes anti­bod­ies. Or, when you show symp­toms of the dis­ease, your doc­tor will do a swab test. When you have an out­break, your doc­tor can give you med­ica­tion that will man­age the symptoms. 

Trichomoniasis

This is not a very well-known STD, but it’s extreme­ly com­mon and is the result of a par­a­site. The CDC esti­mates that 30 per­cent of peo­ple with the par­a­site have symp­toms, which means you could have it and show no symp­toms. If you do have symp­toms, you’re like­ly to expe­ri­ence the following:

  • Burning 
  • Itching 
  • Soreness 
  • Redness 
  • Painful urination 
  • Vagi­nal dis­charge with a fishy smell

Men may expe­ri­ence sim­i­lar symptoms.

If untreat­ed, it can lead to increased risk of oth­er STDs such as HIV. Preg­nant women with tri­chomo­ni­a­sis may give birth pre­ma­ture­ly or to an under­weight baby.

Each time you have sex, you need to use a con­dom to mit­i­gate the chances of catch­ing this sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­ease. The CDC doesn’t sug­gest rou­tine screen­ing for it unless you live in a region where there is a high rate of infec­tion or you engage in risky sex­u­al behav­iors. Like sev­er­al oth­er STDs, antibi­otics will cure you of tri­chomo­ni­a­sis, but since you can get re-infect­ed, it’s impor­tant for your part­ner to get test­ed and treat­ed if positive.


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