5 STDS and How to Prevent Them

Dec 06, 2022
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5 STDS and How to Prevent Them

The rate of sexually transmitted disease (STD) infection in the United States has been on the rise in the past several years, with more than 2.5 million cases reported in 2021. Here’s the hard truth — if you’re sexually active, you’re at risk of contracting an STD. 

At St. Michael’s Elite Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas, we offer comprehensive STD screenings if you come in with symptoms, have been in sexual contact with someone with an STD, or need your regular preventive screening. 

Here are five of the most common STDs and how to prevent them.

Who is at risk of developing an STD?

The only way to fully protect yourself from contracting an STD is to abstain from all sexual activity. Anyone who has sex is at risk of developing an STD, but some people are more at risk than others. People in a committed relationship with only one partner have a low risk of contracting an STD.

If you are a young person between the ages of 15 and 24, you’re at risk. Half of all new STDs occur in this age group. 

Other risk factors include:

  • Having multiple partners
  • Having unprotected sex
  • History of STDs
  • Using recreational drugs and sharing needles
  • Being a victim of rape or sexual assault

If you fall into these risk groups, get tested at least once per year. Many people benefit from more frequent screenings. Talk to us about coming in every 3-6 months.

Common STDs

You are at risk of contracting more than 20 types of STDs, but these are five of the most common. 

1. Human papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is very common. In fact, it is the most common sexually transmitted disease in North America. HPV has many strains, and more than 40 types of HPV are spread through sexual contact. HPV can cause genital warts, but many types present with no symptoms. 

A few strains of HPV lead to cellular changes that cause cancer of the penis, mouth, throat, and cervix. Prevent HPV by getting vaccinated. Young men and women aged 11-26 can receive this vaccine. 

2. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria. Symptoms include unusual genital discharge and pain when urinating. Treatment with antibiotics clears up the infection.

Abstinence, especially when infected, helps prevent the spread. Using condoms is another way to reduce your risk of developing gonorrhea. 

3. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can cause an unusual discharge from your penis or vagina and pain when you pee. But in many cases, men and women experience no symptoms. 

Chlamydia is caused by bacteria that can be treated with antibiotics. Using condoms helps reduce your risk of contracting the STD. Plus, making sure you and your partner are clear of chlamydia before engaging in intercourse is essential. 

4. Syphilis

Syphilis can lead to organ and nerve damage, but these final stages of the disease are uncommon. The STD usually starts as a sore that looks like an ingrown hair or harmless bump. 

Antibiotics treat syphilis. Early treatments eliminate the infection, and prevention includes abstinence and wearing condoms. 

5. Herpes

Herpes causes painful blisters around the vagina, anus, or penis. Not everyone with herpes has these blisters, however. Herpes is highly contagious through skin-to-skin contact. 

You’re most contagious when you have active blisters, so avoid sexual contact at this time to avoid spreading the infection.

Medication helps manage herpes, but the condition isn’t curable. It’s transmissible even if you don’t have an active breakout or if you wear a condom. 

If you need an STD screening, contact our hospital to schedule your appointment. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns about your sexual health.