Out of all the diseases that have affected women, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are some of the most prevalent. STDs are passed from person to person through physical and sexual contact, such as kissing, oral-to-genital contact, and sexual intercourse.
This list of the top five most common STDs in women will help you to gain a greater understanding of them, how to prevent them, and what to do if you suspect you have contracted an STD. The impact that STDs can have on your health and wellbeing is immense.
STDs in women can cause both long-term and short-term consequences to your health when left undiagnosed and untreated. Some of the initial signs of an STD include vaginal itching, rashes, unusual discharge, and pain, but not every STD has symptoms.
The following are the top 5 most common STDs in women.
Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States. Thankfully, you can easily treat it with an oral antibiotic. When infection occurs in women, chlamydia impacts the cervix, and its symptoms are usually pain during intercourse and vaginal discharge.
This bacterial infection is more challenging to detect, as it may have few symptoms. This means those infected with chlamydia are asymptomatic and may unwittingly spread this STD before ever knowing they have contracted it. If you think you may have become infected with chlamydia, do not wait to seek treatment. Chlamydia can severely impact your health if left untreated.
The oldest known sexually transmitted disease is gonorrhea, sometimes referred to as “the clap.” Gonorrhea affects the same organs in your body that chlamydia does and has comparable effects on your body when left untreated. Some STD symptoms that will alert you to get checked for gonorrhea include pain during intercourse, lower abdominal pain, and green or yellow discharge.
Like chlamydia, these symptoms do not always present themselves right away. That’s why it is important for women to get regular STD testing, since those with this STD are sometimes unaware of its presence. Gonorrhea can be especially invasive because it can infect the throat and be passed through oral sex, so you should be as diligent and cautious about oral sex as you are with intercourse. Additionally, it can infect the anus and even the eyes, so conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” can be another sign of this STD.
If you test positive for this infection, your gynecologist may prescribe an oral or injectable antibiotic, and it is crucial to complete the medication in full so this STD does not return.
HPV is an abbreviation for Human Papilloma Virus. Studies show that HPV may be the most common STD in women, infecting 25 percent of all sexually active women before an effective preventitive vaccine was developed.
Unfortunately, there are a variety of HPV strains that can lead to many health consequences. Some types of HPV show no symptoms whatsoever, and some lead to symptoms such as genital warts, while the worst type of HPV has been linked to cervical cancer. Talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine that can help prevent certain types of this harmful disease.
4. Genital herpes
There are two forms of herpes, HSV1 and HSV2. HSV2 is the type most associated with the infamous genital sores that most people have heard about and fear. HSV2 can also spread by mouth to genitals and vice versa, and it is incurable.
The symptoms of herpes can be treated with antiviral medications, but carriers of the herpes virus can still infect their partners, regardless of if they are experiencing a breakout or not.
Condoms can reduce the risk of contracting this unpleasant STD, but they are not 100-percent effective, since herpes can be spread through skin-to-skin contact. It is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately if you think you or a sexual partner may have contracted this STD.
Hepatitis, like HPV, comes in many forms. However, it is hepatitis B that is most associated with sexual contact. Hepatitis C can also be passed via sexual contact. Hepatitis is so rampant that health officials believe close to 1.25 million people in the United States are infected with some type of hepatitis. Both of these strains affect the liver and can lead to scarring, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.
Some never experience signs and symptoms. For those that do, it may take time for them to appear. In these types of STDs, you may experience fatigue, nausea, and abdominal pain, as well as fever and joint pain. While hepatitis is nothing to fool around with, there is an upside as there is a vaccine that can protect you from hepatitis.
Sexually transmitted diseases are some of the most common diseases that impact women’s health and wellness. The intimate nature of how they are contracted and passed to others can make them especially problematic to identify, especially since many have little to no symptoms.
In addition, there is a stigma of shame and embarrassment associated with these diseases that may result in the infected being reluctant to seek treatment. The health consequences that can occur from failing to seek effective treatment for an STD can have lifelong repercussions.
For more information
If you think you may have contracted any of these sexually transmitted diseases, you should seek medical treatment immediately. Contracting an STD, while certainly not ideal, is easier to handle with the professional guidance of a medical doctor. Most STDs can be effectively treated or controlled so you can live a normal, happy life.
If you would like more information about STD testing for women, contact The Women’s Clinic or call (501) 664-4131 for an appointment with a Little Rock gynecologist. We are here to assist you on your journey to improved sexual health.