5 Most Common STDs In Women:
How To Spot Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) cause infertility in at least 24,000 women each year in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). These unacknowledged health issues can be very serious. For example, untreated syphilis in pregnant women causes infant death in up to 40 percent of all cases. It’s important to recognize the signs of an STD so that you can treat the infection before it becomes a health risk. Here are the most common STDs among women.
The rate of infection of chlamydia among women is more than two and a half times the rate among men. Most people with chlamydia have no symptoms, but it can lead to serious health problems like infertility. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics for treatment. But even if you’ve been treated for chlamydia in the past, you can get the infection again.
Gonorrhea is similar to chlamydia in that women are more often affected than men. But, unlike the former, many more people with gonorrhea stay undiagnosed. Signs of the infection include painful urination and white, yellow, or green discharge.
Gonorrhea treatment involves two different antibiotics, but without medical care women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease.
Genital herpes is more common in women than men, but it affects a whopping 20 percent of teens and adults. There is no cure for herpes. But your doctor can prescribe medicines that help prevent and ease the pain and shorten outbreaks — which is when it’s more likely to spread.
Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV)
HPV is the most common STD among both genders, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly every sexually active man and woman will contract at least one strain of HPV throughout their lifetime.
Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and never develop symptoms or health problems from it. If untreated, women are the ones at risk. The virus is the main cause of cervical cancer.
It can take up to 90 days after exposure to syphilis, an infection caused by bacteria, for symptoms to appear. As previously stated, untreated syphilis in a mother is a serious life risk for an unborn baby. The STD can be treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
Last year, the rate of syphilis diagnosis actually decreased 21 percent among women, but increased 1.3 percent in males.
When it comes to unprotected sex, women naturally bear more of the consequences than men. Certainly, a man will never become pregnant after sex without a condom, but a woman also might bear, disproportionately, the consequences of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). Consider a few sobering facts: untreated STDs cause infertility in at least 24,000 women each year in the U.S. alone. You may be astonished to learn as well that untreated syphilis in pregnant women causes infant death in up to 40 percent of all cases. Finally, when it comes to untreated chlamydia, men suffer neither symptoms nor ill effects most of the time, while women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease which might lead to reproductive system damage.
So why are women impacted by STDs differently than men? A few key reasons go a long way to explaining feminine vulnerability:
One/ For many common STDs — including chlamydia and gonorrhea — women are less likely to show symptoms compared to men and when symptoms do occur, they may appear to go away even though the infection remains. More importantly, men find it easier to notice symptoms because they signs are so obvious — an unusual discharge, for example. Since women experience a whole range of natural discharges, all of them quite normal, they find it much more difficult to distinguish when an abnormal one appears.
Two/ Not only is the vagina a suitably moist environment where bacteria may easily flourish, but its lining is exceedingly more delicate and thinner than the skin of a penis. This natural fragility means viruses find it easier to penetrate.
Three/ Women have visibility issues. Notably, it’s harder for a woman to see a genital ulcer (from syphilis, say, or herpes) because they could occur only inside her vagina and not on the surface of her genitalia. Meanwhile, it’s difficult for a man to miss seeing a sore making its debut on his penis.
Four/ Finally, everyday sexually transmitted infections wreak havoc on a woman’s more gentle system while causing no problems in men. Along with chlamydia, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is contracted by both men and women frequently. However this common virus does not lead to serious (if any) health problems for most men while it is the main cause of cervical cancer in women. The fairer sex has been dealt an unequal hand.
So what’s a woman to do? In a phrase: protect yourself.
See your doctor, but more importantly talk to your doctor. There’s no shame in asking to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases, and this is true whether your visit is with your primary care physician or your ob/gyn. If you haven’t already been given one, you might want to ask for the HPV vaccine.
Don’t stop here, though. Once you get a sense of a partner’s sexual history, go all the way and ask about STDs, especially if he or she has been around the block a few times. Make it a joke, if you have to, but simply ask: Ever been tested for STDs?
Finally, and yes we’ve saved the best for last, use condoms. Imperfect though they may be, they offer a good deal of protection against STIs and pregnancy. You’re never perfectly safe, and sadly, even long-term boyfriends (and husbands) have been known to spread disease to their partners. It’s always worth it, knowing you’ve done your best at self-protection.
Health and Wellness Associates