Sexually transmitted diseases can strike anyone of any age of either gender, which is why doctors need to talk about the risks to their patients. This is especially important as the STD rate in America has risen significantly in the last several years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted there were 2.3 million diagnosed cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia in the U.S. in 2017. This makes the fourth year of STDs rising.
Dr. Patricia Dietzgen with the Family Medicine Physician of Kaiser Permanete’s Frisco Medical Offices said anybody who has unprotected sex could become infected with an STD. STDs do not discriminate. She said nobody should be embarrassed about talking to their doctor about STDs. Dietzgen said talking about STD exposure should be routine like anything else at an annual physical.
A Look At The Common STDs
Though STDs can affect anybody, there are some infections that are far more common with some of them being minor and simple to treat and others causing major issues and having lasting effects.
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
This is common sexually transmitted disease causes cervical cancer, anal cancer, genital cancer and genital warts. It may even lead to throat cancer. The problem with HPV is that it’s asymptomatic, which is why spreads so easily. Dietzgen said it’s imperative for people to have protected sex.
Since there is no HPV treatment vaccination is the key to protecting oneself. Many people who catch HPV will find the virus clears up on its own, but it can take up to many years, and they could become infected later on. The vaccine is available for men up to 21 and up to 26 for women.
This is a bacterial STD infection that affects various parts of the body such as the reproductive organs, genitals, throat and eyes. It’s another asymptomatic disease that’s seen in 15 to 25-year-old people. If not treated, it can lead to infertility and enter the joints and blood. While treatment is available, the symptoms can be life lasting.
Another common STD is syphilis, which is life-threatening when not treated promptly. For example, it can affect all the organs in the body – brain included.
HIV and Trichomoniasis
HIV leads to AIDS, which is once known to be a death sentence but can be treated today. Trichomoniasis causes infertility and severe pelvic infections but can be treated with antibiotics.
Common STD Myths
Anybody who engages in sexual behavior is at risk of catching an STD. Some of the myths circulating are that only young people catch STDs, that it can’t be passed from person to person when symptoms are not present or that having sex in the water protects a person from catching an STD.
She said a person could catch an STD even in the pool or other water. And, even if a person is asymptomatic, they can still pass the STD on.
Since an annual health checkup doesn’t tend to include STD testing, people must ask their doctor to test for them. The CDC recommends people ask their doctor on which STDs they should be tested for. The CDC said talking about STDs is hard, but it’s important to talk openly to a partner about them to stay healthy and stop the STD spread.