There are roughly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year. While STDs affect individuals of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations, 50% of these new infections occur among young people ages 15-24. (3)
- pain or discomfort during sex or while urinating
- sores, bumps, warts, or skin rash on or around the penis, testicles, vagina, anus, buttocks, thighs, or mouth
- unusual discharge or unusual bleeding from the penis or vagina
- itchiness in or around the penis or vagina
- swelling or redness near the penis or vagina
CHLAMYDIA & GONORRHEA
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most commonly reported STDs in the United States. In 2018, there were 1.8 million cases of chlamydia and over half a million cases of gonorrhea.
is the most common bacterial STD in the United States. It can cause serious reproductive tract complications in both males and females. It often produces no symptoms, which means you can have it and spread it to others without even knowing. If you do have symptoms, you may experience the following: painful urination, spotting between periods, bleeding after vaginal intercourse, painful intercourse, discharge from the vagina or penis, testicular pain.
is a bacterial STD that can cause serious and permanent health problems if untreated. It is also a major cause of infertility among biological women in the United States. Like chlamydia, it often produces no symptoms. However, if you have symptoms, you may experience the following: painful urination, frequent urination, green vaginal or penile discharge, pain and swelling of the outside tissue and skin near the vagina and urethra, lower abdominal pain, fever, abnormal menstrual periods, painful menstrual periods, testicular pain.
RISK & EXPOSURE
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for contracting an STD. However, young people between the ages of 15-24 and biological women are at a particularly greater risk for getting an STD for a few reasons:
- The female anatomy is more prone to STDs.
- Many young people don’t get the recommended STD testing/treatment making them more at risk of spreading untreated STDs to their partner(s).
- Many young people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly about their sex lives with their partner(s) and healthcare providers.
- Young people often have more than one sexual partner.
How to Reduce Risk:
No method of “protection” is 100% safe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to protect yourself against STDs is to not have sex. That means not having vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and to avoid rubbing/touching genitals. However, if you do decide to be sexually active, the CDC lists some things you can do that can help reduce your risk of contracting an STD: (10) (11) (12)
- Have both you and your partner tested for STDs before engaging in any sexual activity.
- Before sexual activity, talk with your partner about how you will prevent STDs and pregnancy. You should discuss ahead of time what you will and will not do sexually. Your partner should respect this and not force you to do anything you are not comfortable with.
- Use condoms from start to finish every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex. However, understand that this only offers some level of protection. Condoms may break, tear, or be used incorrectly, putting you at risk. Furthermore, condoms cannot protect you against certain types of disease such as herpes, syphilis, and HPV because these diseases can be spread through skin-to-skin contact in areas not covered by a condom.
- Practice mutual monogamy. This is where you and your partner both agree to only have sexual intercourse with each other. This can help protect against STDs as long as you both have been tested and are STD-free and both of you remain monogamous.
- Routinely get tested for STDs and make sure you talk to your healthcare provider about HPV and Hepatitis B vaccines.
- Biological women have extra needs to protect their reproductive health and should see a provider for routine cervical cancer screenings.
- Avoid mixing alcohol and recreational drugs with sex. When you are under the influence, you are more likely to take sexual risks than you would otherwise.
STDs we test for at FOCUS WOMEN’S CENTER
At Focus Women’s Center we offer testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea (link to Medical Services: STD/STI TESTING) to patients who qualify – free of charge. While these are the two most common STDs in McHenry County, FWC recommends that anyone who is sexually active obtain a full STD panel by your primary healthcare provider. (13)
For full panel STD testing, contact your doctor or local health department:
McHenry County Department of Health – 815-334-4500
Lake County Health Department – 847-377-8400
(2) Retrieved from WebMD, LLC. (2020). Treatments for sexually transmitted infections (STDs).
(5) Retrieved from WebMD, LLC. (2020). Your guide to sexually transmitted diseases.
(8) Retrieved from Qureshi, S. (2018). Chlamydia (chlamydial genitourinary infections).
(9) Retrieved from Wong, B. (2018). Gonorrhea.
(13) Retrieved from McHenry County Department of Health. (2019). Reportable conditions report 2019.