Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are infections that are spread from one person to another, usually during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. STDs are common and many of the people infected by them do not have any symptoms. Without treatment, STDs can lead to serious health problems, and even fertility problems in women. Northside Northpoint OB-GYNs and nurse practitioners are skilled at identifying, testing, and treating all STDs.
You can protect yourself against STDs by practicing safe sex and using barrier methods during sex. Barriers protect you and your partner from sexual fluids and some skin-to-skin contact, which can both spread STDs. The most common types of barrier methods are condoms, internal condoms, gloves, and dental dams. Despite using condoms the right way every time, some STDs like herpes can still be spread. Getting tested regularly is also a part of practicing safe sex. If you have had unprotected sexual contact, or if you find out your partner has an STD, it is very important to get tested as soon as possible.
If you are sexually active, one of the most important things you can do for your health is to get tested. While at your visit, your provider may ask the following questions:
It is important that you have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider about your sexual history so they can guide you on whether you should be tested for STDs.
While STDs affect individuals of all ages, STDs take a particularly heavy toll on young people. CDC estimates that people ages 15-24 account for almost half of the 26 million new sexually transmitted infections that occurred in the United States in 2018. Our providers at Northside Northpoint will help you feel comfortable and provide you with sound advice and recommendations regarding STD tests and treatment options. Getting tested is fast and is typically performed through our provider performing a physical exam and collecting cultures from the urine or vagina as well as through drawing blood.
Not all STDs show up right after exposure. Some STDs have an incubation period, meaning that it takes time for the bacteria or the virus to multiply in your body to the point where it will become detectable on a screening test. Some STD incubation periods are short, while some are longer. Because of different incubation times, it may take several days, weeks or even months for you to become symptomatic or to test positive for certain STDs. Another confusing factor when it comes to STDs is that not all STDs cause symptoms in every person with an infection. This means you may have an STD and not show any symptoms at all. Practicing safer sex lowers your risk of contracting an STD.
A couple general rules of thumb from the CDC can help make testing less complicated. First, if you’re having symptoms of an STD—like vaginal or penile discharge, pain with urination, or pelvic pain—don’t wait to get tested. If you have symptoms, it means that your infection is within a detectable range. If your sexual partner informs you that they’re positive for an STI, then don’t wait to get treated—get evaluated right away.
If you don’t have any symptoms, the CDC recommends waiting about two weeks to get tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, trichomonas, and syphilis. If those tests are negative, then a follow-up test a few months later for HIV and syphilis can give you ultimate peace of mind.
If you tested positive for an STD, our providers at Northside Northpoint will help take the appropriate steps to test and treat you. If your partner has tested positive, it is important you schedule an appointment as soon as possible with one of our providers to undergo testing and the recommended treatments. You should avoid having sex until you are tested and treated. If you are undergoing treatment for an STD, you should not have sex while you are undergoing treatment and avoid sex for 7 days after your treatment. In some populations it is recommended that you undergo a short-term follow up for repeat testing to help ensure the infection has cleared. At Northside Northpoint, we are here to help provide you with comforting, knowledgeable care during your most vulnerable moments.
There are now several FDA approved medications that can help reduce your risk of contracting HIV by up to 90%. To find out if PrEP is right for you, we recommend you make an appointment with our expert Northside Northpoint providers for guidance. Anyone who is sexually active and doesn’t have HIV can use PrEP. If you’re at high risk for HIV and you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, PrEP may also help you and your baby avoid contracting HIV.
You may choose to use PrEP if you have had anal or vaginal sex in the last 6 months and:
Our Northside Northpoint providers can help counsel you on the protection methods, prevention medications, and the various STD tests available.