Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common infections. In fact, each year about 374 million sexually transmitted infections occur around the world, including more than 25 million cases here in the United States.
In this blog, the providers at Generations Family Practice in Cary and Raleigh, North Carolina, explain more about what STDs are, what their symptoms can be, why testing is important, and how STDs can be treated.
The basics of STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases — which are also referred to as sexually transmitted infections — are medical conditions that are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. These infections are typically passed from person to person through sexual contact.
Some STDs, such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV), are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Furthermore, an infected mother can transmit an STD to her baby during childbirth.
The most common STD in the United States is human papillomavirus (HPV). Other common STDs are chlamydia, genital herpes and warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, pubic lice, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and vaginitis.
STDs are often asymptomatic
Some people who have an STD experience symptoms like sudden, unexplained fatigue or foul-smelling or unusual discharges from their penis or vagina. Similarly, some people experience skin anomalies, such as blisters, sores, or itchy skin on the vulva, penis, or anus.
However, some STDs, such as HPV, may not present outward symptoms for years after an infection. Consequently, a person who’s infected but doesn't know it may feel and look perfectly healthy. Meanwhile, they may be transmitting the infection to others.
Add STD testing to your health regimen
Since STDs don’t always have outward symptoms, the best way to protect your health and the health of others is to get tested for STDs regularly. Here at Generations Family Practice, we perform STD testing as part of well-woman or well-man exams.
After meeting with you and discussing your concerns and risk factors, we discuss what kind of STD testing may be best suited to your needs and how often you should get tested.
We usually conduct STD testing for human papillomavirus, chlamydia, gonorrhea,
syphilis, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus. Our team doesn’t routinely test for herpes unless you have physical symptoms, such as blisters around your genital area.
Treating and managing STDs
When it comes to treating STDs, the goal is to cure the condition if possible. However, if there is no cure, the goal is to manage symptoms and reduce the likelihood of passing the infection to others. Treatment usually takes place in the form of antibiotics or antivirals.
Currently, eight microbes are connected to the majority of STDs. Of these, four are curable. They are gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. The four that aren’t curable are herpes simplex virus, hepatitis B, HIV, and human papillomavirus.
If you want to get tested for STDs, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Generations Family Practice today.