STIs and STDs
Did you know you could have a sexually transmitted disease with no symptoms? Unlike most illnesses where the onset is accompanied by obvious signs of changes to your body, it is common for STDs or sexually transmitted infections to cause no symptoms. Since early detection and treatment of any medical problem normally results in the best outcome, it is important to seek the advice your physician or specialist to detect asymptomatic conditions before they become more advanced or cause serious problems. Nonetheless, it is important for your sexual health and well-being that you listen to your body and report any bothersome changes to your doctor as soon as possible.
Misconceptions about Sexually Transmitted Infections
Infections from sexually transmitted diseases are as old as humankind. Originally reported in the Old Testament, the perception in ancient times believed the disease was punishment for blasphemous conduct. It was not until medieval times that variations of STIs were recognized as clinical symptoms. Misconceptions and misinterpretations caused people of all social classes to live in fear for centuries before the relationship of disease to sexual activities was actually recognized. Achievements in microbiology and advances in chemistry would begin to change public perception from one of a personal stroke of fate to understanding sexually transmitted diseases as an important public health issue.
Although STDs do not always cause symptoms, STDs are preventable if you know how to protect yourself and your sexual partner. Being in a long-term monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is a reliable way to avoid infection. However, you must be open and honest and share your test results with each other. Naturally, reducing the number of active sex partners correlates with a deceased risk for contracting STDs. The traditional male latex condom remains highly effective in controlling transmission of sex-related diseases but natural membrane and synthetic condoms are not recommended for STD prevention due to higher breakage rates. Remember... you can play a vital role in protecting yourself as well as the sexual health of other family members.
Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases
It is important to tell your doctor about all of your concerns as well as any changes to your body that you may have recently noticed. Our dermatologist can diagnose and treat most conditions involving the skin, hair and nails Listed below are common sexually transmitted viral and bacterial infections:
- Genital Warts - These skin-colored lesions are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and appear on the skin as a rash of small bumps. Since people infected with HPV may not have symptoms, it is possible to pass the infection when no warts are currently visible. Genital warts are treatable. However, they are only a symptom of HPV, which can become a lifelong infection in some patients.
- Syphilis - Left untreated, syphilis can lead to serious complications. This common bacterial infection is easily spread by contact with an infected person's chancres or sores, which are often painless. The communicable disease is spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. The disease cannot be spread by contact with objects like a toilet seat but may be spread by prolonged kissing or extremely close contact with an infected person.
- Chlamydia - Most of the dramatic symptoms of chlamydia are felt not seen. These include vaginal discharge, painful urination or genital inflammation. However, chlamydia can also affect the eyes, causing a potentially blinding form of "pink eye". Many people who have chlamydia do not notice any symptoms or symptoms may disappear for days.
- Gonorrhea - Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by sexual contact with an infected person. Although both men and women can have gonorrhea, most women do not have symptoms. It often occurs together with another STI called chlamydia. Gonorrhea is easily treated with antibiotics and usually subsides within days of medical intervention.
- Trichomoniasis - "Trich", as it is often called, is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite. Millions get the parasite every year but most people feel totally fine, have no symptoms, and may not know they have it. Warning signs include irritation, itching, smelly discharge, frequent urination and painful peeing. Since the parasite is carried by sexual fluids, protected sex with a condom can stop the spread.
- Hepatitis A, B & C - In the Sunshine State, hepatitis A infections have tripled since the beginning of 2018 and 1-in-30 Baby Boomers has hepatitis C and do not know it. Although not usually tested for during a regular exam, routine blood work is used to confirm a diagnosis. Good news is hepatitis B and C are treatable, whereas Hep A typically heals on its own without permanent damage.
Many sexually transmitted infections can be easily cured with the right medications including, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. Other STDs (caused by certain viral infections), like herpes simplex virus or HIV, cannot be cured but medical interventions can help control the disease.
Private Consultation to Protect Your Sexual Health
At Associates in Dermatology, our providers have the advanced training and expertise to effectively diagnose and recommend treatment options for sexually transmitted infections; as well as Hepatitis A, B and C. Knowing your status is a critical first step in helping to stop the transmission of infections. So, pay attention to any changes in your body and report your concerns to your doctor. Make sure you keep up with routine screenings and vaccinations as recommended by major healthcare organizations. If you think someone may be infected, both partners need to receive testing and treatment at the same time. For an appointment with one of our practitioners, contact Associates in Dermatology and schedule a private consultation with our physician.
Associates in Dermatology currently has 15 convenient locations throughout Central Florida with excellent in-house labs for your testing needs. Find the location nearest you and call today or request an appointment online.
My mother and I come every 6 weeks to have chemical peels for sun damage and to prevent further skin cancer. Our esthetician is Jenny Paul and she is wonderful. We drive an hour to come to her location because she takes such amazing care of us. She is kind, thoughtful, informative and a joy to be around. Thank you to Associates in Dermatology for hiring such a wonderful person to take care of us!
— Vicki P