There are many lessons to come out of the COVID pandemic, including the threat of communicable diseases and the value of testing. We’d like to make the case that these are lessons we’ve already learned, especially when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), yet the numbers in the United States are hitting all-time highs.
At Tahoe Women's Care, Dr. Gary Willen and our team understand the potential threat that many STDs pose, and we believe that STD testing is one of the best lines of defense.
In the following, we explore why and when you should consider screening for STDs.
Are STDs really a threat?
The short answer is, “Yes.” The CDC routinely gathers data on STDs, and the most recent come from 2019 — and the results are eye-opening.
In comparing STD statistics over the year 2015, the CDC found that:
- Chlamydia cases rose 19% to 1.8 million
- Gonorrhea cases rose 56% to more than 600,000
- Syphilis cases rose 74% to nearly 130,000
Just as disturbing, the cases of congenital syphilis (when the disease is acquired by a fetus) rose a whopping 279% to 1,870.
The benefits of testing
Most STDs are treatable, and the sooner we identify and remedy the problem, the better able you are to avoid the potential long-term consequences of untreated STDs, such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
We recommend that you come see us if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Itchiness or burning
- Pain during intercourse
- Changes to your genitalia, such as lumps or sores
After reviewing your symptoms and performing an exam, we run a test for possible STDs. These simple tests allow us to positively identify the infection behind your symptoms so that we can get you started on an appropriate treatment protocol. Not only do these efforts clear up your infection, they also prevent you from spreading it to others.
Routine testing for STDs
Even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms, we should still screen you for STDs on a regular basis.
The CDC, and our team, recommend the following:
- Testing for HIV one time between the ages of 13 and 64
- Screening annually for gonorrhea and chlamydia for sexually active women under the age of 25
- Testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually if you’re high risk (multiple partners)
- Testing all pregnant women for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B
These are just general rules of thumb, and we’re happy to sit down with you to review which tests are appropriate for your unique situation.
The tests themselves are very easy and include either drawing blood, collecting urine, or performing a simple swab.
To learn more about testing for STDs or to schedule a confidential screening, contact our office in Carson City, Nevada.