Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also called sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are widespread in the United States, with more than 20 million new cases occurring every year and more than 1.2 million people living with HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. An STD is an infection from sexual activity, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Sometimes, you can get an STD from nonsexual activities, such as childbirth, blood transfusion, or needle sharing.
While STDs are common, people still feel embarrassed or ashamed if they get one. At Sima Stein, MD, in San Jose, California, board-certified pediatrician Dr. Sima Stein diagnoses and treats STDs with compassion and without judgment.
STDs are highly infectious, and many people have one or pass one on without knowing it. Here’s what you need to know about STDs and what to do if you think you have one.
Symptoms vary by the type of infection you have. There are over 20 STDs, but the most common are human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, and gonorrhea. In some cases, there are no symptoms.
If you’re sexually active, you should get tested regularly for STDs. The CDC, for example, recommends that all sexually active women under 25 should get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea annually, and those over 25 with multiple or new partners should continue to get yearly STD tests. All men who have sex with men should get tested for STDs and HIV regularly.
If you’re a sexually active teenager and you suspect you have an STD, you should get tested as soon as possible and refrain from having sexual relations until you get your results.
For STDs that have symptoms, some of the most common ones include:
- Bumps, sores, or warts around your genital area
- Swelling or constant itching in your genital area
- Unusual discharge from your penis or vagina
- Painful sex
- Vaginal bleeding that’s not your period
- Burning when you urinate
If you have symptoms and suspect you have an STD, don’t wait for your annual test. Make an appointment with Dr. Stein for an STD test right away.
What to do if you have an STD
If your STD test is positive, Dr. Stein develops a personalized treatment plan to reduce or eliminate symptoms and cure the infection, if possible. However, not all are curable.
Treatment depends on the condition. For example, she can prescribe antibiotics for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. You must take the full course of treatment and refrain from sexual activity until seven days after you’ve completed your medication and all sores are gone.
For herpes or HIV, two viral infections that can’t be cured at this time, Dr. Stein prescribes an antiviral treatment to prevent your condition from worsening and help you manage your symptoms and control outbreaks.
And lastly, if you have an STD, you should notify the person you’re currently having sex with and any other sexual partners you’ve had in the last three months to a year.
If you think you have an STD or want to learn more about prevention and diagnosis, call the office of Sima Stein, MD, to make an appointment or request one online.