You may have heard the familiar statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — there are 20 million new cases of STDs each year. But there’s a more startling figure, revealing that the number of infections out there at any given moment is much higher — a staggering 110 million!
This number is soaring because many STDs can persist without symptoms, so people aren’t able to pursue the right treatment or preventative measures, and end up inadvertently spreading the disease.
Here’s what you need to know about protecting yourself from three common STDs.
Preventing the Spread of STDs
The CDC’s most current data estimates that 1.8 million people are infected with chlamydia, which is the most frequently-reported STD. But since chlamydia infection may not be symptomatic, the actual number of chlamydia infections is probably much higher than the reported number, making prevention key.
Chlamydia is easily cured because it is a bacterial infection, so it can be treated with antibiotics. When untreated, though, the infection may cause difficulty getting pregnant, infertility, or pelvic inflammatory disease in women.
The only 100% effective way of avoiding chlamydia is by abstaining from vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Sexually active people can lower their chlamydia risk by only engaging in sexual relations with a long-term, mutually monogamous partner who has positive STD testing results, or by using latex condoms correctly each time you engage in sexual acts.
Other than these preventative measures, regular STD testing can also help safeguard you against chlamydia. Sexually active men and women under age 25 should get tested for chlamydia annually. Pregnant women and gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men should also get regular chlamydia testing.
A decade ago, syphilis was almost eliminated from the US altogether. Now, cases are on the rise again, with many appearing in gay and bisexual men.
Fortunately, syphilis is curable during its early stages. If not caught, though, it can cause lasting issues, including damage to the skin, brain, heart, eyes, bones, and nervous system.
Preventing STDs: Syphilis
Syphilis prevention is similar to preventative methods for other STDs. Be sure to follow safe sex practices by using a condom. Limiting your number of sexual partners and only having sex with partners who have positive STD testing results will also help.
Sexually active adults should get STD testing, including testing for syphilis. Regular testing is necessary for pregnant women, men who have sex with men, HIV-positive people, and people whose partners have tested positive for syphilis in the past.
Any sexually active person can get syphilis through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for syphilis or other STDs. You should get tested regularly for syphilis if you are pregnant, are a man who has sex with men, have HIV infection, and/or have partner(s) who have tested positive for syphilis.
The second-most reported STD in the US, gonorrhea, is very common among people 15-24, with 800,000 new infections estimated each year. Though curable with medication, gonorrhea can cause damage to the rectum, throat, and genitals, leading to more severe health problems like infertility when untreated.
Preventing STDs: Gonorrhea
If you’re sexually active, you’re at risk for catching STDs, including gonorrhea. You can lower your risk by being in a long-term monogamous relationship with a partner who has positive STD testing results. You should also use condoms during all sexual activities.
STD testing can determine if you or a sexual partner has gonorrhea. Sexually active gay or bisexual men should be tested each year for gonorrhea.
ARCpoint Labs: Preventing STDs Nationwide
ARCpoint Labs facilities nationwide provide STD testing to help you best protect your sexual health and prevent the spread of STDs. To learn more about our services, contact your nearest ARCpoint Labs today!