Q&A: A lot of patients ask, what is a sexually transmitted infection? How do I protect myself?

A sexually transmitted infection is an infection that is passed from one person to another when they have vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who is infected. Some infections can also be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. They are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The most common sexually transmitted infections are Chlamydia and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). According to the CDC, there is an increase in cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in the United States. STIs are preventable. The first step in protecting your health is knowing if you are at risk for an STI and getting tested.

A lot of patients ask “Should I be tested for a sexually transmitted infection?” The answer is that it depends on your sexual history and your risk factors for having an STI. You are at risk of having a sexually transmitted infection if:

  • You are between 15- 24 years old
  • Have more than one sexual partner
  • Have oral, vaginal, or anal sex without using a condom
  • You or your partner has had an STI in the past
  • You or your partner inject drugs
  • You or your partner exchange sex for money or drugs
  • You suspect that your partner may be having sex with other people

If any of the above applies to you, get tested right away. You should also get tested if you notice abnormal bleeding especially after having sex, an increase in the amount of discharge, a change in the color or smell of your discharge or pelvic pain.

Be open and honest with your doctor or healthcare provider. By giving us as much information as you can, we can suggest the proper tests and treatments. Most STIs are curable or manageable.

It important to get treatment because having an STI can increase your chances of giving or getting HIV, can cause pelvic infections that lead to pelvic and abdominal pain, and can cause irreversible scarring that makes it difficult to get pregnant.  Sexually transmitted infections can also be transmitted to your baby while you are still pregnant. The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested.

“What can I do to protect myself?”

Abstinence or not having sex is the only way to not get an STI. If you decide to have sex with a new partner, it is important that you both get tested before anything happens- including oral sex. Condoms used from start to finish help decrease the chance of getting some STIs. If you or your partner are having sex with other people, it is recommended you use a condom every single time for oral, vaginal and anal sex. It is only safe to stop using condoms if you and your partner have both been tested and are STI-free AND if you are only having sex with each other. Deciding to have sex with someone comes with responsibilities-  Protect yourself! Be honest with your partner. You should be comfortable enough to talk about ways to prevent getting an STI or becoming pregnant. Talk to your doctor about vaccinations against HPV and Hepatitis B. For further information, call us at 718- 291- 3276 to schedule an appointment or visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information on their website: https://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

HPV

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is considered to be the most commonly transmitted sexually related disease in the United States. It is a virus that is transmitted from one person to another during sexual contact. It affects both sexes, but usually the rate of infection is twice as high for women than for men. While the body has the ability to fight off the disease naturally, most of the time, in some cases it can cause health related problems.  Many people who are infected are not even aware that they have it.
Complications of HPV:
• Genital warts
• Vaginal cancer
• Cervical cancer
• Anal cancer
• Cancer of the penis
• Cancer of the mouth and throat
There is no cure for HPV, usually treatment is for the condition that it causes. There are two vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil available which can help to prevent the disease. Both will protect against cervical cancers in women, Gardasil will protect against genital warts and cancers of the anus, vulva, and vagina. Gardasil is also available for males. The recommendation is that these vaccines be given to girls and boys at 11 or 12 years of age. Women can get the vaccine up until the age of 27 and men can get the vaccine up to the age of 22.
If you would like to make an appointment with a pediatrician at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-7001.

HPV Vaccine

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Condom Sense: STI Awareness Month

Condom

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are spread by sexual contact. April marks National STI Awareness Month, a campaign sparked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an effort to counter the nation’s high rates of sexually transmitted infections. The United States currently has the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases among all countries in the developed world. Here are three important facts to remember about the ongoing public health epidemic in this country:

 

  1. The current epidemic is driven by just two STDs — even though there’s already a vaccine to prevent one of them.

The nation’s STI epidemic is mainly caused by HPV and chlamydia. That’s good and bad news. On one hand, chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotics, and there’s already an extremely effective vaccine to prevent HPV transmission. But young Americans still aren’t getting their HPV shots, even though the CDC urges parents to vaccinate their children — both girls and boys — before they reach their early 20s.

  1. Women disproportionately bear the burden of STIs.

Based on the female anatomy women are actually more vulnerable to contract STDs than men are — but they’re also less likely to notice the symptoms. Signs of an STI are less apparent on female genitalia and women commonly confuse STD symptoms for less serious issues, like a yeast infection. Sexually transmitted infections often have more longer-term consequences for women that can lead to infertility, and pregnant women can pass STDs to their unborn babies.

  1. Having healthcare makes it easier to get tested.

The health care reform law now requires insurance companies to provide reproductive health services free of charge, U.S. citizens are able to receive HIV/AIDS counseling, STD counseling, and HPV testing without a co-pay.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about sex, sexual health and sexually transmitted infections. The best way to prevent STI’s is to not have sexual intercourse but that isn’t realistic for most. However, knowledge of prevention is the second best option. To prevent the transmission of STIs, people need to be taught how to effectively use condoms. Follow this link to learn about proper condom use: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/condom . Even adults are sometimes misinformed about the spread of STI’s which is why it is important to communicate openly with your doctor.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.