5 Key Ways People Can Protect Themselves Against STDs

December 29, 2018
by John Kelly, MD
5 Key Ways People Can Protect Themselves Against STDs

Sexually transmitted infections are rising, hitting a record 2.3 million U.S. cases in syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia in 2017. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention press release, this is 200,000 more cases than in 2016.

The agency’s research shows that the number of STD cases rose between 2013 and 2017, and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. The agency reported 1.7 million chlamydia cases – 45 percent of them noted in females between 15 and 24 years of age. Gonorrhea case numbers have risen 67 percent. There has been a 76 percent increase in the number of primary and secondary syphilis.

Jonathan Mermin with the CDC said the rise in STDs is a step backward in fighting sexually transmitted infections.

Of the three common types, gonorrhea is the most dangerous because it has led to a rise in antibiotic-resistance strains. While using both azithromycin and ceftriaxone works, there is a still a possibility that gonorrhea could become completely antibiotic-resistant.

University of Alabama Professor of Infectious Disease Translation Research Dr. Edward Hook said that the gonorrhea bacteria – gonococcus – could very well become antibiotic-resistant. While new treatments and antibiotics are available, there has been a slowdown in their development.

If an STD has not be diagnosed and untreated, they could lead to various health problems like ectopic births, infertility, stillbirths, etc. Syphilis could cause optical issues along with sores and rashes.

How Can People Protect Themselves From STDs

More than half of all STD programs on a local and state level saw their budgets cut, which has reduced the number of people getting screened and the hours clinics can stay open. This is why experts stress the need for preventative methods.

Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities Director Rob Stephenson said it’s important people think about prevention instead of after-sex response. Stephenson said there are several ways in which this can be done such as having primary care doctors and health care providers talk to patients about prevention. Another is to teach sex education early to help young adults learn how to prevent STDs.

Some of the things the CDC recommends include:

  • Abstinence – refraining from any type of sexual activity.
  • Condoms – Using condoms during sex can protect people from the majority of STDs. However, HPV and herpes can pass via skin contact.
  • One Partner – Staying monogamous or having sex with one partner is one way to reduce the chances of STDs.
  • Testing – Get tested regularly to ensure that you are in good sexual health.
  • Vaccinations – Be sure to get vaccinated from STDs such as HPV.

What Are Some Treatments For The Common STD Infections?

  • Chlamydia – Antibiotics taken once or over the course of seven days.
  • Gonorrhea – Depending on the gonorrhea type, doctors may do both a shot and pill to help people cure their gonorrhea. Again, pills may be taken once or over the course of a week.
  • Syphilis – For this STD, penicillin is the most common treatment given, but for people allergic to it, there are other alternatives to curing syphilis.


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