Take steps to protect yourself from STDs

According to the latest research, there is an increase in the number of diagnosed cases of sexually transmitted diseases. We asked Landon Harrison, DO, PPG – OB/GYN, to tell us more about the rise in instances and the key points of prevention.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States has seen a significant increase in the number of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases. In fact, the number of cases in 2017 was greater than the number of cases seen in 2016 by more than 2.1 million. The CDC attributes half of these cases to individuals between the ages of 15 and 24. Interestingly, the number of STD cases among those who are 65 and older is also increasing. The report suggests that the increased rates of STD infections is due to individuals participating in high risk and potentially dangerous sexual behavior.

Many times, STDs do not cause symptoms, or the symptoms are not recognized by the individual who is infected, which underscores the importance of regular testing. While some STDs can be cured, others, such as HIV, can only be managed and are lifelong infections. All STDs pose serious risks to your sexual and reproductive health if left untreated.

Safe sex is so important. The only way to totally prevent contracting a sexually transmitted disease is by abstaining from anal, oral and vaginal sex. However, if you choose to be sexually active, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

  • Both hepatitis B and the human papillomavirus are vaccine preventable diseases. Getting vaccinated before becoming sexually active or as soon as possible after becoming sexually active can reduce the risk of contracting these diseases.
  • Refrain from unsafe sexual behavior such as participating in anal, oral or vaginal sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners or having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is important to learn how to use condoms correctly and to use them every time you have sex.
  • Open and honest communication is important when it comes to safe sex and disease prevention. Having a discussion with your partner about things like sexual history, contraceptives and previous STD testing is important in preserving good health.

Talk to your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns you may have about your sexual health, including whether or not you should be tested for STDs, including HIV. If you test positive, your doctor will help form a treatment plan that is right for you.

 

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