An unplanned pregnancy is not the only outcome of having unprotected sex. STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are becoming more and more common, in part due to a lack of knowledge of how they are transmitted. If you are considering an abortion procedure for an unplanned pregnancy, it is strongly recommended you are screened and treated for STIs/STDs prior to any procedure to prevent complications or spread of the infection/disease.
STIs and STDs are infections that are passed from one person to another through all forms of sexual contact: oral, vaginal and anal. The causes of STDs are bacteria (chlamydia, gonorrhea, Syphilis), parasites (Trichomoniasis), yeast, and viruses (HIV/AIDS, Genital Herpes, HPV). According TO THE CDC, there are more than 20 types of STIs/STDs. Most STIs/STDs affect both men and women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can be more severe for women. If a pregnant woman has an untreated STI/STD, it can cause serious health problems for the baby.
By the age of 25, approximately half of sexually active people will get an STI/STD without realizing it. Antibiotics can treat STDs caused by bacteria, yeast, or parasites. There is no cure for STDs caused by a virus, but medicines can often help with the symptoms and keep the life-long effects of most diseases under control.
*Information provided by CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/std/
Sexually transmitted infections (also known as STIs, or STDs for sexually transmitted diseases) are infections that commonly have a high probability of being spread from person to person through sexual contact. The term STI is broader and more encompassing because some infections are curable and may not cause any symptoms. If the infection results in altering the typical function of the body, it is then called a disease. So that’s why you may hear people say STIs. It’s technically more accurate and also reminds people that there are often no symptoms, so it’s important to get tested. Contact Woman to Woman Health Center today to schedule your no-cost STI/STD screening appointment.
Are you worried you have an STI/STD? If you have had unprotected sexual contact with a partner, you may have an STD, even if you aren’t exhibiting symptoms. It’s important to get tested right away so in the case of infection, you can get treated as soon as possible. Contact Woman to Woman Health Center today to schedule your STI/STD testing appointment.
Just like any other sexually active person, pregnant women can easily contract an STI or STD. However, the consequences of having an STI or STD while pregnant can be much more significant than it would be for a non-pregnant woman. Therefore, it is important that you educate yourself and are aware of the harmful effects STIs/STDs can have on your health and the health of your developing baby.
Woman to Woman Health Center offers screening and treatment for the following STIs/STDs:
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years. Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus. We screen for gonorrhea through a urine test. Those who test positive can be treated with either oral antibiotics or by injection.
Chlamydia is a common STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the womb). You can get chlamydia by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia. If your sex partner is male, you can still get chlamydia even if he does not ejaculate (cum). If you’ve had chlamydia and were treated in the past, you can still become infected again. If you are pregnant, you can give chlamydia to your baby during childbirth. Seventy-five percent of women with Chlamydia have no symptoms; other women may have vaginal discharge and/or pelvic abdominal pain. Men (25% have no symptoms) may have painful urination and/or discharge from the penis. Chlamydia is screened and diagnosed through a urine test and treated with antibiotics.
HIV/AIDS, Genital Herpes, HPV, Syphilis, Trich
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. No effective cure exists for HIV. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART. If taken the right way every day, this medicine can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV, keep them healthy, and greatly lower their chance of infecting others. If you have an STD, you are more likely to contract HIV than someone who is STD-free. This is because the same behaviors and circumstances that may put you at risk for contracting an STD can also put you at greater risk for contracting HIV. In addition, having a sore or break in the skin from an STD may allow HIV to more easily enter your body. As of 2011, approximately 16% of the estimated 1.2 million persons with HIV in the United States are unaware of their infection.
Genital herpes is an STD caused by two types of viruses. The viruses are called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Genital herpes is common in the United States. More than one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes. You can get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease. If you do not have herpes, you can become infected if you come into contact with the herpes virus in:
- A herpes sore;
- Saliva (if your partner has an oral herpes infection) or genital secretions (if your partner has a genital herpes infection);
- Skin in the oral area (if your partner has an oral herpes infection) or skin in the genital area (if your partner has a genital herpes infection).
You can contract herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected. It is also possible to contract genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes. There is no cure for herpes. However, there are medicines that can lessen or shorten outbreaks. One of these anti-herpes medicines can be taken daily and makes it less likely that you will pass the infection on to your sex partner. If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, it is very important for you to go to prenatal care visits. Herpes infection can be passed from you to your unborn child before birth but is more commonly passed to your infant during delivery. This can lead to a potentially deadly infection in your baby (called neonatal herpes). If you have herpes symptoms at delivery, a Caesarean section is usually performed.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
- Genital warts can be treated by your healthcare provider or with prescription medication. If left untreated, genital warts may go away, stay the same, or grow in size or number.
- Cervical precancer can be treated. Women who get routine Pap tests and follow up as needed can identify problems before cancer develops.
There are three stages of symptoms for syphilis:
- A painless ulcer on genitals or mouth called a chancre
- A copper-colored rash primarily on the palms of the hands and feet, sore throat, hair loss, and swollen glands
- Damage to major organs (heart, liver, brain, bones, and joints), may cause paralysis, numbness, blindness, deafness, dementia, and can cause death
Syphilis is detected and diagnosed by a blood test. It is treated through antibiotic injections.
Trichomoniasis (or “trich”) is a very common STI and, in fact, the most common curable STI. Although symptoms of the disease vary, most people who have the parasite cannot tell they are infected. Infection is more common in women than in men. Trichomoniasis can increase the risk of contracting or spreading other sexually transmitted infections. For example, trichomoniasis can cause genital inflammation that makes it easier to become infected with HIV or to pass the HIV virus on to a sex partner. Pregnant women with trichomoniasis are more likely to have their babies too early (preterm delivery) and are more likely to have a low birth weight baby (less than 5.5 pounds). It is treated with oral antibiotics.