If you are sexually active, if you are pregnant, if you could be pregnant, you could have an STD.
Many STDs cannot be identified by sight only. For this reason, many people go untreated.
There are over 25 different Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Some can be treated. Some cannot be treated. Some are deadly. The greater the number of sex partners, the greater the risk of infection.
Young Americans, age, 15-24 account for almost 50%, an estimated 10million, of the new sexually transmitted infections occurring each year, according to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The United States CDC recommends STD screening for syphilis, HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and hepatitis B early in your pregnancy. All of these STDs can affect prenatal development and be transmitted to a child during birth. It is imperative pregnant women are screened early in their pregnancies so they can be treated quickly and effectively.
If you are sexually active, have had more than one sexual partner, or your partner has more than one sexual partner, you should be tested for STDs. The CDC advises STD screening annually.
Chlamydia & Gonorrhea
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are two of the most frequently reported STDs in the United States. Teens and young adults account for the highest number of reported infections.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are bacterial infections transferred by any sexual contact. Neither have visible symptoms because the bacteria infects the mucous membranes of soft tissues on the body including the surfaces of the urethra, vagina, cervix and endometrium, the fallopian tubes, anus and rectum, the lining of the eyelid, and even the throat. Males and females may experience
burning when they urinate if infected with Gonorrhea.
Teens and young women are susceptible to Chlamydia because the cervix is not fully developed.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and infertility. Both are treated with antibiotics.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2015. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2016. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats
American Sexual Health Association. Chlamydia. Research Triangle Park: U.S. Available at http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/chlamydia/
American Sexual Health Association. Gonorrhea. Research Triangle Park: U.S. Available at
Syphilis is a bacterial infection with four stages. The first early symptom is a painless, round sore (chancre), which often goes unnoticed. Later stages include symptoms like fatigue, low grade fevers, a rash, and muscle pain. Untreated syphilis can lead to peripheral nerve damage, brain damage, and death. Syphilis can be transferred to a newborn and be fatal.
It is imperative pregnant women are screened early for syphilis. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
HPV can cause a range of health issues including the following:
- genital warts
- cervical cancer
- oral cancer
- penile cancer
- rectal cancer
- vulvar cancer
There is no cure for HPV. However, there is a vaccine available that can protect against some of the most dangerous, cancer causing strains of HPV.
Most HPV infections will not become cancerous. Most people will clear an HPV infection within two years. However, HPV infection is a serious concern. According to the American Cancer Society, two-thirds of cases of cervical cancer in the United States are caused by HPV-16 and HPV-18. These are the two strains of the virus that most commonly cause cancer.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
According to the Mayo Clinic, a person can carry HIV and not show any symptoms for 10 years or longer. However, left untreated, HIV can compromise your immune system and cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
There is no cure for HIV. However, current treatment options are effective. When treated early, people infected with HIV can live as long as people without HIV.
Effective, early treatment requires testing. The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once for HIV. People at high risk for HIV should be tested once a year.
HIV testing is widely available. Free and confidential testing can be found in all major cities and many public health clinics. A government web tool for finding a local test site is available at http://hivtest.cdc.gov/.
Why get an STD test before an abortion?
An untreated STD can spread to the uterus complicating an abortion procedure and worsening the effects. Lifeline Family Center can direct you to resources that offer STD testing.
Lifeline Family Center does not perform or refer for abortions.