Did you know most women with a sexually transmitted disease aren’t aware they have it? This is because most STDs in women don’t cause symptoms. Even if they do, the symptoms are vague and usually don’t seem too serious.
If you are a sexually active person, here’s what you need to know.
[pullquote]It is estimated that 1 in 20 sexually active women have chlamydia.1 [/pullquote]
Chlamydia is the most common STD in both women and men. It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and is transferred through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. While most women hardly experience any symptoms, some of them could develop cervicitis – a severe case of inflammation in the cervix. If left untreated, it could cause damage to the fallopian tubes, resulting in fertility or pregnancy-related issues. Look out for symptoms like pain or bleeding during sex, abdominal cramps, or unusual vaginal discharge. It can easily be treated with antibiotics.
Gonorrhea is the second most common STD in the U.S. Similiar to chlamydia, it is also caused by bacteria known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae and it has no symptoms. In some cases where women experience symptoms, it could be felt like a urinary tract infection. This means you could have a burning sensation while peeing, increased vaginal discharge, and bleeding between periods. It can be completely cured with proper medication.
Caused by two types of viruses, genital herpes is extremely common in the U.S. It is estimated that one out of six people between the ages of 14-49 years have genital herpes and about 90% of women aren’t aware of it. Symptoms include blisters that could turn into painful sores around the mouth, rectum, and genitals. But before the outbreak of blisters, you could have a fever and body pain. Though there is no cure yet, medication can help reduce the severity and duration of outbreaks.
One of the oldest known STD, syphilis is caused by a bacteria known as spirochete. The spiral-shaped bacteria can cause syphilis in three stages. Primary syphilis would have sores around the mouth or rectum. Secondary syphilis would cause fever and swollen glands. You would also have a skin rash that’s typically not itchy. Tertiary syphilis has no symptoms but can cause serious damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, and brain. It can be cured with the right medication.
5. Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs)
Considered as the most common STD in the U.S, with almost every sexually active person experiencing it once in their life, HPV could be harmful to your health. In a lot of cases, HPV does go away by itself but in a few other cases, it could lead to genital warts and even cancer. In fact, it’s the main cause of cervical cancer. But it could take years for cancer to develop since its initial contact with the virus. Women tend to find out if they have HPV when they take a Pap test for cervical cancer screening.
[pullquote]It is estimated one in four people with HIV is a woman.[/pullquote]
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can spread through unprotected sex and women tend to get infected easier during vaginal sex than men. Symptoms include frequently getting yeast infections, diarrhea, breathing problems, vaginal sores, and menstrual changes. Since the symptoms are vague, most women are diagnosed only much later. There is no cure for HIV yet but medication can help reduce infections.
7. Hepatitis B
Most people are unaware that hepatitis B could also be caused by sexual contact, especially through anal sex. Hepatitis B leads to serious infection of the liver and is caused by a virus. Symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, and painful joints. In most cases, hepatitis B goes away in a few months and with very little treatment.
If you are sexually active person, please get tested once in a year at least. Practice safe sex, always wear protection.