Get tested. That’s the bottom line.
There are 320 million people living in the U. S. and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are 20 million new STD infections every year. If you’re sexually active, there’s a good chance you’re going to have a surprise waiting for you.
Many of today’s sexually transmitted diseases don’t come with symptoms and you can’t protect yourself with a condom. Diseases like HIV and syphilis take a while before the symptoms pop up but at least they have symptoms.
Here are four STDs that are common and don’t have symptoms.
Human papilloma virus (HPV)
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and condoms typically won’t protect you. You can have HPV and not realize it. If you’re under 30 HPV isn’t routinely tested for and there’s no treatment for it. If you’re over 30 you should be tested routinely because some strains of HPV the can cause cervical cancer in women.
The disease is rather a mystery because some strains cause genital warts, many others don’t, and it can go away on its own.
This is one of the most common diseases in women under 25, it’s known as a silent infection because most people don’t experience symptoms. It may move into urinary tract and your body and left untreated, it can spread into women’s reproductive organs and cause infertility. Centers for Disease Control estimates 24,000 women become infertile every year because of chlamydia.
In addition to infertility it can also cause scarring and ectopic pregnancy. That is life-threatening for the mom and baby. Chlamydia also increases a woman’s risk of contracting HIV.
Fortunately this one is easy to treat with antibiotics when you catch it early.
Gonorrhea is similar to chlamydia in that it’s very common and sexually active women under 25 and most don’t experience symptoms. If it goes unnoticed and untreated it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, scarring and damage to reproductive organs. It also increases the risk of HIV and can cause life-threatening infections throughout the body. Gonorrhea during pregnancy raises the risk of miscarriage and serious health complications for the newborn baby.
When present with chlamydia is treatable with antibiotics.
One out of every six people between 14 and 49 years old has herpes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The symptoms include painful red blisters but not everyone has those symptoms. The CDC estimates that up to 90% of one strain of herpes is never diagnosed. It’s most infectious during active breakouts but can still spread when no symptoms are present. Condoms won’t protect you from herpes because it can be spread skin to skin.
Did I mention get tested?
I also want to mention that the best protection is a monogamous relationship.