Could you have an STD — And not know it?

image

Could you have an STD and not know it? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, have symptoms that are often confused with signs of a bladder infection, while others, such as chlamydia, may not have any symptoms at all. Here is a look at the most common STDs in women, including a brief summary of specific symptoms and how the diseases are treated.

Chlamydia

According to the Centre for Diseases Control, United States, chlamydia is the most frequently reported and fastest growing sexually transmitted disease in the women. Still, most cases go undiagnosed. The disease is most common in women aged 15-24.

Symptoms: Three-quarters of women with chlamydia experience no symptoms; those who do may notice abnormal vaginal discharge, burning when urinating, and spotting between periods.

If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within one – three weeks of exposure.

Many people will have no sores or minimal symptoms. But during an outbreak, women with genital herpes may experience small red bumps, blisters, or open sores on areas near or on the vagina along with vaginal discharge, fever, headaches, muscle aches, pain during urination, and itching, burning, or swollen glands in the genital area. Sores heal after 2-4 weeks, and most symptoms are relieved. Symptoms can recur, however, sometimes in just weeks or months after the last outbreak, particularly when you are under stress.

Symptoms usually start within 2 weeks of transmission.

Transmission: Herpes is frequently passed through sexual contact, and it is particularly contagious during an outbreak of open sores. But if your sex partner has the condition, be aware that you can also contract herpes in the days and hours before your partner experiences a breakout if you are intimate during this time.

Treatment: There is no cure for genital herpes, since the virus will always be in your body. But there are drugs that can shorten outbreaks, make them less severe, or even prevent them from occurring.

Consequences if left untreated: Pregnant women can pass the virus on to their children during delivery. Herpes infections present during birth are one of the leading causes of blindness in newborns. It is important that you tell your obstetrician if you have had a previous infection. Sometimes a C-section birth is necessary to insure your baby is safe from infection.

HPV and genital warts

At least half of sexually active women will contract genital HPV at some point in their lives. Out of the 100 or so strains of the virus, there are about 40 strains of genital HPV, and fewer still are linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer. Other HPV-related cancers include vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, and anal cancer.

Symptoms: Some women have no symptoms. Those who do may have warts in the genital area or on the inner thighs and lesions on the cervix or in the vagina. Some strains that cause no symptoms can also increase the risk of cervical cancer – one reason it is important for all sexually active women to have routine Pap test screening for cervical cancer, even if no symptoms are present.

When warts appear, they can form anywhere from weeks to months to even years after contact with an infected person.

Transmission: Sexually transmitted strains of HPV are passed through vaginal, anal, and possibly oral sex. They can also be spread by direct skin-to-skin contact in the genital area.

Treatment: There is no treatment or cure for HPV, although a new vaccine to prevent HPV infection is now available. The vaccine is approved for girls and women age 9 to 26 years.

Consequences if left untreated: The disease can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which is not easily cured. PID can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes and uterus, resulting in chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and the potential of fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus).

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported infectious disease in women, but like chlamydia, it is under-diagnosed.

Symptoms are usually mild, if present at all, and are often mistaken for symptoms of bladder infection. They can include pain or burning during urination, yellowish or bloody vaginal discharge, abdominal pain or tenderness, heavier menstrual flow, and spotting between periods.

Gonorrhea is transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can also be passed from mother to baby during vaginal birth.

Treatment: Antibiotics can cure the infection, but they will not repair any permanent damage done to your body by the disease.

Consequences if left untreated: Gonorrhea can lead to PID, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and infections that can damage joints and heart tissue. Gonorrhea can also increase your risk of acquiring HIV if you are exposed to the virus.

Genital herpes

Herpes symptoms can come and go, but the virus stays in the nerve cells of your body even when you are not exhibiting signs.

Many people will have no sores or minimal symptoms. But during an outbreak, women with genital herpes may experience small red bumps, blisters, or open sores on areas near or on the vagina along with vaginal discharge, fever, headaches, muscle aches, pain during urination, and itching, burning, or swollen glands in the genital area. Sores heal after 2-4 weeks, and most symptoms are relieved. Symptoms can recur, however, sometimes in just weeks or months after the last outbreak, particularly when you are under stress.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s