Some of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea and for the fourth year in a row these STIs are on the rise. Nearly 2.3 million people in the United States had these infections in 2017, and they are spreading and on course to increase this year as well. This is unfortunate since all three of these STIs are easily treated with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. The scary part is most people have no symptoms with these and can be infecting their partners without knowing it. STI testing is relatively easy with a simple blood test and/or genital swab. If you have had any sexual contact or intimacy, even kissing, you are at risk for an STI. Depending on which criteria you use there can be up to 27 different infections that are sexually transmitted. Many can be cured and if the others easily managed.
Without treatment chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and increased HIV risk. Gonorrhea itself has strains that are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. In most cases the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor are enough to clear these three STIs from your system. However if a partner also has one of these STIs they can cause reinfection. Since most people do not know they have these STIs, they can easily spread. It is best to have yourself and any and all your partners tested as well. In California and most other states expedited partner therapy is also possible. This is when a doctor can prescribe and treat the partner(s) of a patient they have diagnosed with a STI without examining the patient’s partner. This helps reduce reinfection rates from a partner who otherwise could not or would not seek treatment.
The best way to avoid STIs are to abstain from sex. Of course that is not possible for the majority of us, especially those of us planning pregnancy. So prevention is key. Getting tested and abstaining until you, your partner, or both have finished your treatment if needed, and your provider has given the green light for resuming sexual activities is the best option. Condoms are the only method of birth control that can help prevent STIs and can be used with almost any other method of birth control, except for a female condom.
Ask your doctor about your individual STI risks. You can bring this up at your next annual exam or make an appointment and they can assess your risk and determine what testing is most appropriate for you.
El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems. Drs. Amy Teng, Erika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery. Dr. Erika Balassiano is also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.
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