Many people don’t want to go through STD/STI testing because of the stigma around sexually transmitted infections. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood, fewer than half of all Americans know how many types of STDs there are—and that includes health professionals.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are both sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but they have different meanings. A sexually transmitted disease refers to an infection that causes illness, but it doesn’t always cause symptoms or complications; whereas, an STI refers to any infection that can be spread from one person to another through sexual contact.
According to Statistica.com,
“Health officals are voicing serious concern after it emerged that the U.S. is experiencing a significant spike in sexually transmitted diseases. 2.4 million cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis combined were recorded in 2018, an all-time high.
The data was part of the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report which was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday. The scale of the problem can be seen by the pace of new infections documented since 2014. Chlamydia went up 19 percent, gonorrhea rose 63 percent, primary and secondary syphilis grew 71 percent while congenital syphilis soared 185 percent.”
There are a few ways you can tell if you have a sexually transmitted disease. If you’re noticing unusual symptoms like pain during urination, discharge from your vagina or penis, and rashes around your genitals, chances are it might be time to go see a doctor. STD testing is typically quick and easy: they take some blood and swab cells from your body, which can then be sent off for lab analysis to confirm whether you do indeed have an STD/STI.
While there are many physical signs of a sexually transmitted disease, many of these diseases also have non-physical symptoms as well. This means that you may be infected with an STD/STI without having any visible symptoms. For example, some people might get genital warts from HPV without ever knowing they were infected, and other people may have no symptoms whatsoever when they contract chlamydia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year in America, yet only around one in five individuals who have contracted a sexually transmitted disease/infection will ever be diagnosed.
Fortunately, there are plenty of fast and easy ways to protect yourself. First things first: Knowing whether you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, or another STD/STI is essential; it’s also important to know how to spot them.
According to a study conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, genital herpes is considered one of the most common STDs in America. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that genital herpes is actually more common than gonorrhea and syphilis (the next two most common STDs).
Here are some statistics about HPV, according to Mayo Clinic: An estimated 20 million Americans are currently infected with genital herpes; each year, there are 500,000 new cases. About one in six people ages 14-49 have genital herpes. Over 90 percent of people with HSV-2 (genital herpes) don’t know they have it.
What about AIDS?
According to AIDS.gov, approximately 1.1 million Americans have HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and around 36% of them are unaware of their status.
Without proper treatment, HIV has serious consequences on your health and can even lead to death. Many people wonder why it’s still so difficult to convince everyone to get tested regularly when it’s available at such low costs (many clinics offer free testing). According to some recent studies, it could be because most of us are simply ignorant about how much does AIDS cost America in general. Not sure what I mean? Read on!
Here is a breakdown for you In 2016, it was estimated that there were over 40,000 new cases of HIV infection in America. This means that healthcare costs for those who receive a diagnosis will increase from $291 million to $368 million per year. The average lifetime cost per person living with HIV/AIDS is estimated at $400,000; however, those who receive timely care will live longer and incur lower medical expenses than those who don't seek help until later stages of infection. To put things into perspective: A total of $16 billion dollars was spent on treating AIDS/HIV-related illnesses during 2014 alone - which equates to $567 per American household each year.
However, thanks to technological advancements, companies such as Lab Me are allowing for less stigma and easier confidential at-home STD testing.
If you think you might have been exposed to an STD/STI, visit your primary care physician for a screening. Keep in mind that some diseases, such as syphilis and HIV, can have no symptoms for months—or even years—after exposure. So if you think you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease/infection, it’s always best to get tested sooner rather than later.
The most common STD/STI tests are blood and urine tests. A physical exam is also performed on men and women who may be infected with genital warts. When do I need to start my testing?: If you’re sexually active, get tested every six months—at least!
That said, many people don’t want to go through STD/STI testing because of the stigma around sexually transmitted infections. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood, fewer than half of all Americans know how many types of STDs there are—and that includes health professionals. This means a lot of people could be walking around with an STD without knowing it. Because some infections have no symptoms at all, early detection is important; not only does it make treatment easier but it prevents future spread as well.
Testing with Lab Me makes the process quick and discreet. Lab Me is partnered with CDC and FDA-approved and recommended laboratories.
We work with MDs in your prescribing state and if you have a positive result they can discreetly prescribe medication and help guide your treatment.
All from the privacy and comfort of your home.
Many STDs and STIs are symptomless. Even when they do cause symptoms, they may be so mild that you may not realize something is wrong.
You should seek medical attention if you experience any of these STD/STI symptoms: abnormal discharge from your vagina or penis, burning during urination, unexplained pain in your pelvic area, genital sores that don’t heal after two weeks, nausea, fever, and fatigue.
How Do You Get A STD/STI?
While there are some infections you can get through skin-to-skin contact, most STDs and STIs require direct genital contact.
The most common ways to contract a sexually transmitted disease are: having unprotected sex with a partner who has an infection, engaging in anal intercourse without using a condom, sharing infected needles while using drugs (like heroin), and getting pricked by a needle that’s been used on someone who is infected.
How Can You Protect Yourself From A STD/STI?
As long as you engage in sexual activity, there is no way to completely avoid contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
However, there are some ways to reduce your risk: use condoms every time you have sex (regardless of whether it’s vaginal intercourse or anal intercourse), get tested regularly for STDs and STIs (at least once a year), and talk openly with your partner about your sexual history before engaging in any type of sexual contact. If you suspect that your partner may be infected, do not have sex until he or she has been treated. If you contract an STD/STI, see a doctor immediately so that they can treat it quickly and effectively.
If You Think You Have An STD/STI...:
If you think that you might have contracted an STD or STI, don’t panic!
Most infections are treatable with antibiotics. However, if you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately: severe pain in your pelvic area (especially if it doesn’t go away after a few days), bleeding from your vagina or penis that lasts for more than a day, and swollen lymph nodes in your groin.
Check out Lab Me for diagnostic quality at-home STD testing.
Most communities have one or more places where you can go for assistance if you think you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Your doctor is one obvious choice, but there are other resources as well.
Check with your local health department for more information about nearby clinics and resources.
If you are worried that you might have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI), especially if it was unprotected sex, go to your doctor right away. Depending on where you live, there may be a clinic specializing in sexual health near you.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) operates several clinics around the country that focus specifically on sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
In addition, many states have their own health departments with a division of infectious disease control. To find out if your state has such a division, contact your local health department for more information.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.