STDs

Steer Clear of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Get Tested Today!

The truth is that if you’re sexually active, you run a high risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Even if you’ve been with the same partner for a long time, it’s important to get tested to make sure you’re not passing an STD back and forth. STDs can cause tremendous pain and discomfort, threaten a woman’s reproductive health, spread to others, and even lead to death.

man and womanBirth control merely prevents pregnancy; it does not protect you from contracting STDs. Whether you are on birth control or not, you should always use a condom until you and your partner have both been tested for STDs and HIV and you are sure you are both 100% STD-FREE.

Educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of the most common STDs so you can be as informed as possible. Power your ability to make smart decisions, even in the heat of the moment!

Chlamydia

What is it? One of the most common STDs. If untreated, it can cause lower abdominal pain, eye inflammation, skin lesions, and pelvic inflammation that can lead to infertility.

Symptoms in women: Usually has no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, when women may experience thick white vaginal discharge and painful urination.

Treatment: Goes away with treatment, but it may return.

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Gonorrhea

What is it? A bacterial infection that can spread to the reproductive organs, bloodstream, and other body parts.

Symptoms in women: Bloody discharge, painful urination; if untreated, it can lead to infertility.

Treatment: Goes away with treatment, but it may return.

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Genital Herpes

What is it? A virus that can spread even when the infected person is not showing symptoms. You can contract herpes without having intercourse because it spreads through skin contact.

Symptoms in women: During an outbreak, sores and blisters form around the vagina and rectum, and the effects of the virus can cause flu-like symptoms.

Treatment: Herpes cannot be cured. Medicine can shorten outbreaks and ease symptoms, but herpes stays with you for life.

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Genital Warts

What are they? One of the most common STDs, caused by HPV (human papillomavirus).

Symptoms in women: Small, flesh-colored bumps around the vagina and anus.

Treatment: Your doctor can remove the warts by freezing them off, but the HPV virus cannot be cured and must be tracked because it can lead to cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is available to girls and women from 9 to 26 years old.

Get more information about the HPV vaccine

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HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

What is it? One of the most common STDs; if you are sexually active, chances are that you will contract some form of it if you haven’t already.

Symptoms in women: Sometimes HPV shows itself in the form of warts, but sometimes there are no symptoms, which is dangerous because the virus can be silently forming cancerous cells in your cervix without your knowledge.

Treatment: There is no treatment. All women with a history of HPV should get a Pap smear at least once a year to ensure the virus is not becoming cancerous.

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Hepatitis B

What is it? A contagious virus that infects the liver.

Symptoms in women: There may be no symptoms at all, or you may feel like you have the flu. If you have hepatitis B and you don’t know it, the virus can damage your liver over time.

Treatment: Usually the virus goes away on its own, but it’s important to talk to your doctor to figure out which medicines to take.

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Syphilis

What is it? A bacterial disease that often takes on the characteristics of other diseases; also known as the “great imitator.”

Symptoms in women: Syphilis has three stages: first, a single, painless sore appears. Second, skin rashes develop. These two symptoms go away on their own, but the disease stays in the body, possibly for many years. It re-surfaces in its own time by attacking the brain or other organs of the body; if left untreated, it can lead to death.

Treatment: Antibiotics easily cure syphilis when it’s in the early stages. It can be cured in the final stage, too, but whatever damage has been done does not go away.

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HIV/AIDS

What is it? HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks white blood cells, damaging the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off diseases and infections it can normally get rid of. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the chronic and fatal condition that HIV can lead to.

Symptoms in women: There may not be any symptoms of HIV at first, but a person with this virus could have a flu-like illness that lasts for 2-4 weeks. A person may live with HIV for up to 10 years without treatment and not even know it (possibly spreading it to others all the while), but eventually it will weaken the immune system to such a degree that he or she will develop AIDS. As AIDS advances, the immune system becomes so weak that the body can catch any infection it’s exposed to, which ultimately leads to death.

Treatment: Unfortunately there is no cure for HIV, but scientists and doctors have developed treatments that slow down and even stop the virus in its tracks, making it possible for people with HIV to live a long and healthy life without developing AIDS.

The thought of getting tested for HIV may be terrifying, but the test itself doesn’t mean you have the virus. It’s very important to get tested—for the sake of your own health and to protect the health of others.

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Stop having sex until you are sure you (and your partner) have not been exposed to an STD. Don’t be scared to get tested—treatments are available!

Get tested ASAP.