Every day one million people contract a sexually transmitted disease with a staggering 376 million becoming infected every year, sometimes without them even knowing it or showing symptoms. With numbers like these, it’s concerning that more people, especially women, aren’t making regular STD testing a staple when it comes to their reproductive health.
At Bluebonnet OB/GYN, Dr. Patricia Brougher and her experienced staff understand that testing for STDs is the first line of defense for many reproductive health issues. That’s why we make testing a key part of our well-woman exams. We’re here to lend a sympathetic ear and our expert guidance to help you live a confidently healthy life.
What are STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections, viruses, and bacteria transmitted from person to person through sexual contact. STDs range from mild, curable infections to incurable, life-threatening diseases. Some are even asymptomatic, meaning you might not know you’re infected until it’s too late.
The most common STDs include HPV, HIV, AIDS, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.
No matter what kind of STD you have, they all pose a risk to your reproductive and overall health, especially if you let them go undetected and untreated.
How do you test for STDs?
Testing for STDs varies depending on the infection. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea can be detected with a simple urine test or a swab inside the cervix. Dr. Brougher might draw a blood sample if you show possible signs of HIV, syphilis, or hepatitis. HPV is often discovered when you have your regular Pap smears.
How do STDS affect reproductive health?
Not only do STDs significantly impact your overall health and wellbeing, but they can also target different facets of your reproductive health.
Getting pregnant can be difficult enough even without the presence of STDs. Leaving STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea to fester can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID occurs when your fallopian tubes become so severely infected and inflamed it’s extremely difficult or even impossible for you to become pregnant.
Because chlamydia and gonorrhea typically have no symptoms, it’s important you get tested regularly before they turn into a much more serious issue.
Pregnancy and delivery complications
STDs can also plague your pregnancy and delivery.
If you’ve had an STD that required excising a lesion or wart, you might be at risk for preterm deliveries. Infections caused by STDs can put you at risk for ectopic pregnancies as well.
You may even pass on a disease to your newborn child during delivery. Without proper testing and treatment, you can deliver your baby and give them respiratory diseases like neonatal conjunctivitis and life-threatening infections like congenital syphilis and neonatal herpes simplex virus, putting their life and health at risk.
Sometimes, the STD itself is the least of your worries. If you don’t catch an STD soon enough and get the treatment you need, it can develop into a whole new health problem.
For example, an advanced and untreated HPV infection can become cervical cancer. Besides being a potentially fatal disease, cervical cancer can lead to early menopause, painful sex, and other health complications like kidney problems and blood clots.
Contracting an STD might sound scary but our gynecological experts are here to put your mind at ease. We can provide you with peace of mind, advanced treatments, and compassionate guidance to keep you safe and healthy.
If you have more questions or suspect you need to be tested, contact our office to schedule an appointment today.