Get the information you need to know about sexually transmitted infections
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than nine million women each year receive an STI diagnosis. Women especially need to be aware of the signs, symptoms and problems associated with sexually transmitted infections. Also known as sexually transmitted diseases, these infections can cause serious health issues for women.
It’s important to know that STIs spread when someone has unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with a person who has an infection. They can also spread through genital touching.
Signs and symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases
Since women often do not display signs or symptoms when they have sexually transmitted diseases, preventive care, including an annual well-woman exam, is vital. Here is a list of signs that may indicate that a woman has an infection.
- Sores that appear on the genitals, rectal area or in the mouth
- Vaginal discharge that is unusual or smells bad
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Vaginal itching
- Lower abdominal pain
- A rash that appears on the hands, feet or trunk of the body
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes
Women and sexually transmitted infections
Men’s and women’s bodies do not react to sexually transmitted infections in the same way. Here are some facts all women should know.
- A woman can contract an STI more easily than a man due to the moisture in the vagina.
- Women are not as likely to display symptoms of infections as men are.
- If a woman does not get treatment for an STI, she can develop more problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, fertility issues and cervical cancer.
- When a woman has an STI, she is more likely to contract HIV.
Additionally, pregnant women who have a sexually transmitted disease can pass the infection to their baby as the baby passes through the birth canal. In some cases, such as syphilis, the infection can move through the placenta to affect the baby while still in the womb. Thankfully, the physicians at Athens OBGYN have the experience and training to keep a woman with an STI as safe as possible during her pregnancy.
Preventing these types of infections
The good news is that sexually transmitted diseases are preventable. Here are the steps women should take to keep themselves healthy.
- Always use condoms during sex, even if using other birth control options.
- Use a dental dam during oral sex.
- Women should have STD testing and ask their partners to get tested too.
- Monogamy or limiting the number of sexual partners one has reduces risk.
- Women should get the HPV and hepatitis B vaccines.
- Do not douche because it disrupts the normal vaginal bacteria that provides protection.
The caring physicians at Athens OBGYN are here to help women learn about and protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. Contact us for an appointment.