Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections that are primarily passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Bacteria, viruses, or parasites can cause STIs.
It’s essential to get routine testing if you’re sexually active. You may also require additional testing throughout the year in certain circumstances, such as pregnancy.
Types of STIs
Many types of STIs can be treated successfully if caught early, emphasizing the importance of regular testing and early treatment.
Parasitic: Trichomoniasis, caused by a parasite, is an example of a parasitic STI. It’s typically treated effectively with a single dose of prescription antibiotics.
Symptoms of STIs
Many STIs can be asymptomatic, meaning they show no signs.
When symptoms do occur, they may include unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, burning during urination, sores or warts on the genital area, itching, and pain during intercourse.
These are just some of the symptoms possible. That’s why, regardless of symptoms, you should always opt to get tested just in case.
If untreated, STIs can lead to serious health problems, including infertility, organ damage, certain cancers, and an increased risk of contracting HIV.
When To Get Tested
It’s critical you get tested if you’re sexually active. This is especially true if you’ve had multiple partners or not been using protection. Even with preventative measures like condoms, you can still be at risk.
If you’re pregnant, early detection allows for timely treatment, reducing the risk of complications for both the mother and the baby.
Certain STIs can spread more easily during the abortion procedure. This can lead to infections in the reproductive organs, which can be serious.
The Mayo Clinic recommends screenings for:
- Almost everyone at least once
- Pregnant women
- Women age 21 and older
- Women under age 25 who are sexually active
- Reinfection by an untreated or undertreated partner is common
- People who have a new partner
The Risks of STIs
Untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can lead to a range of health issues. The specific risks depend on the type of STI, but here are some general risks associated with untreated STIs:
Increased Risk of Other Infections: Having an STI can make you more susceptible to other infections, including HIV.
- Infertility: Certain STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause infertility in both men and women if not treated.
- Complications During Pregnancy and Childbirth: STIs can lead to complications during pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and premature birth. They can also be transmitted from mother to child, causing serious health issues for the newborn.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): This is a serious infection of the female reproductive organs that can occur if STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea are not treated. PID can lead to chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.
- Cancer: Certain STIs, like human papillomavirus (HPV), are linked to cervical, throat, and anal cancers.
- Organ Damage: Some STIs, if left untreated, can cause damage to organs like the heart and brain. Syphilis is particularly known for this.
- Systemic Infections: Untreated STIs can sometimes spread and lead to systemic infections affecting multiple body systems.
- Chronic Pain and Discomfort: Some STIs can lead to chronic symptoms like pain, irritation, and discomfort.
It’s crucial to seek medical advice and treatment if you suspect you have an STI. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent many of these complications.
Get Free STI Testing
If you’re concerned about STIs, there’s no reason not to get tested. The Pregnancy Care Center of Rincon offers free STI testing. Our staff is here to answer your questions and concerns along the way.