Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 million new STD cases are diagnosed each year. The good news is that, even though they’re common, you can reduce your risk of contracting an STD with a few precautionary steps.
In this blog, Dr. Essam Taymour and the team at Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group in Long Beach, California, zero in on the most common sexually transmitted diseases, describe how you can prevent them, and explain when you should get tested for STDs.
There are more than 20 different STDs, and they can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. The most common STDs are:
Although this list seems daunting, it’s important to remember that STDs are manageable and many of them are curable. Even better news: You can take proactive steps to reduce your risk of STD transmission.
There are many ways you can prevent the spread of STDs.
The best way to prevent any STD is to practice abstinence until you know you and your sexual partner are infection-free. This means refraining from vaginal, oral, and anal contact.
Diligently using condoms can reduce your risk of contracting STDs, especially gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. These three STDS spread through urethral or vaginal secretions, which is why condoms are particularly beneficial.
Always wear the correctly sized condom, and avoid lotions, baby oil, or oil-based lubricants. The oil in lotions or lubes can damage the latex in the condom and compromise its integrity.
Note: Some STDs are spread even if you use a condom. For example, herpes can spread through skin contact (oral or genital) with someone who has an active infection, saliva contact with someone who has oral herpes, or contact with a herpes sore.
When you and your partner agree to have sex only with each other, you reduce your risk of contracting an STD. Before you have sexual intercourse (including oral intercourse) with a new partner, talk with your partner about STDs.
Getting tested before engaging in sex with a new partner can prevent the unintentional spread of STDs. This is important because it’s possible to have an infection and not realize it.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus linked to both STDs and potential cancer risks. The HPV vaccine protects against the strains that are linked to cervical cancer. It also protects against the HPV types that cause most genital warts.
Even if you’re careful, you can get an STD. You may not have any symptoms, however, so the only way to know for sure if you have an STD is through testing.
We recommend the following groups receive testing even if they don’t experience STD symptoms:
You may benefit from additional testing if you have a new partner or develop any STD symptoms. Although it’s possible to have an STD without symptoms, the most common signs of an STD are changes in vaginal odor or discharge, itching, pain during intercourse, genital skin growths or bumps, and fever.
We know it isn’t always easy to talk about your sex life or any symptoms you’re experiencing, but our compassionate and nonjudgemental team is here to help you get the testing and treatment you need. For any questions or to schedule an appointment, call us at 562-247-3038 or use our online portal.