Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are defined as an infection or disease that is transmitted through sexual contact caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. There is so much to know about STDs, how they are transmitted and who they affect. Here are some common questions people often ask about STDs.
(Disclaimer: Some sensitive issues discussed below.)
1. How are STDs transmitted?
STDs can be transmitted through vaginal, oral and anal sex.
2. Who do STDs affect?
STDs can affect people of all ages. However, STDs do have a higher positivity rate in the younger population. Fifteen to 24-year-olds account for half of the 20 million new cases of STDs that occur in the United States each year, but they only make up about a quarter of the population. Also the CDC suggests that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of getting STDs.
3. Can I get an STD while I’m pregnant?
Yes! You can get an STD before and during your pregnancy. The CDC recommends that all women should ask to be tested at their first prenatal visit. It is very common that doctors will automatically offer this, but some of them will not, so it is important for you to ask! If you think you may have been exposed after your first test, please let your doctor know.
If you have an STD while pregnant and you do not get treatment, it can lead to serious health problems for you and your baby. You can pass the infection to your baby before, during or after birth. The doctor may also decide to do a cesarean delivery (c-section) to prevent the spread of infection to the baby.
4. Can STDs be spread during oral sex?
Yes! There are many STDs and infections that can be spread from oral sex. It may be possible to get some STDs in the mouth or throat. This can happen by giving to oral sex to someone with an infected penis, vagina or anus. It may also be possible to get infected on the penis, vagina or anus by receiving oral sex from someone who has an infection in their mouth.
You can also be positive in more than one area (ex: mouth and genitals). It’s important to remember that STDs do not always show symptoms. If you have had oral sex and you are getting tested, be sure to ask your health care provider if they can provide a throat swab as well.
5. What can happen if I leave an STD untreated?
If STDs are left untreated it can cause long term pelvic and abdominal pain, infertility and complications with pregnancy and an increased risk of giving or getting HIV. If you know that you’ve been exposed or even if you are unsure of your exposure, it’s important to be tested and receive the proper treatment if you have a positive test.
Knowing your STD status is very important and critical in preventing the spread of disease. If you think you may be infected or at risk, DO NOT have sex until you are tested and treated. The CDC states, “the most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (vaginal, oral and anal).
For more information on STDs, you can visit the Center for Disease Control’s website: cdc.gov. To schedule your testing appointment you can call or text our Kutztown office at 610-683-8000 or our Hamburg office at 484-660-3526. At this time we ask that you make sure to set up an appointment rather than walk in (to abide by current COVID-19 safety standards).