Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

STDs on the Rise — Who Should Get Tested?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2018 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report, combined cases of the three most commonly reported STDs — syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia — reached their highest levels ever in the US. Left untreated, these STDs can have severe health consequences, for the individual, for the partner or partners, and for an infected woman’s unborn child.

At the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, office of internal medicine specialist Dr. Faride Ramos, we’re dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our patients, and that includes sexual health. We want you to be informed about the various sexually transmitted diseases, including how and when you should be tested. Here’s what you need to know.

Which STDs are on the rise, and who should be tested?

STDs are very common. According to the CDC, millions of new infections occur each year in the US.

STDs are transmitted from one person to another through sexual activity — that includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Unfortunately, STDs don’t always cause symptoms, so it’s entirely possible to have an infection and not know it. That’s why it’s incredibly important to get tested. All STDs can be treated, and some can be cured entirely.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common STD infecting both men and women and may cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. One of the three most common STDs on the rise, chlamydia increased 3% between 2017-2018 to more than 1.7 million cases — the most ever reported to the CDC.

Chlamydia spreads through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, the highest at-risk population is sexually active young people. Gay and bisexual men are also at high risk.

If you’re a woman under 25 years and are sexually active, you should get tested for chlamydia every year. Older women who have new or multiple sexual partners, or a sexual partner who has an STD, should also get tested every year, as should gay and bisexual men and pregnant women.

Your doctor can diagnose chlamydia with a urine sample or vaginal swab, and the infection can be cured with medication. However, repeat infections are common, and you should be tested again about three months after treatment.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea also infects both men and women, with effects in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It’s common among the 15-24 age group. Between 2017-2018, gonorrhea increased 5% to more than 580,000 cases — the highest number reported by the CDC since 1991.

Like chlamydia, you get gonorrhea by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the infection, and a pregnant woman can pass the STD on to her baby during childbirth.

If you’re a woman under 25 years and are sexually active, you should get tested for gonorrhea every year. Older women who have new or multiple sexual partners, or a sexual partner who has an STD, should also get tested every year, as should gay and bisexual men and pregnant women.

Most of the time, Dr. Ramos uses a urine test for gonorrhea. However, if you’ve had oral and/or anal sex, she may need swabs from your throat and/or rectum.

Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, but it's becoming harder to treat, as drug-resistant strains are on the rise. If your symptoms continue after treatment, make another appointment with Dr. Ramos.

Syphilis

Syphilis is an STD divided into four stages, each with different signs and symptoms. You can get the STD by direct contact with a syphilis sore, found on or around the penis, vagina, or anus, or in the rectum, on the lips, or in the mouth. As with other STDs, syphilis can transfer from an infected mother to her unborn baby.

Between 2017-2018, the number of primary and secondary syphilis cases increased 14% to more than 35,000 cases, the highest number reported by the CDC since 1991. Among newborns, cases increased 40%. Untreated mothers can have preterm or stillborn children. Newborns can have health problems ranging from deafness to seizures to death.

All pregnant women should be tested at their first prenatal visit. You should also get tested regularly if you’re sexually active, are gay or bisexual, are living with HIV, or have one or more partners who tested positive for syphilis.

Most doctors use a blood test to diagnose syphilis, although sometimes they use fluid from a syphilis sore. The infection can be cured with the right antibiotics, but they may not undo any damage already done.

Even after you’ve been treated successfully, you can still be re-infected. Only laboratory tests can confirm whether you have the STD or not, so follow-up testing with your doctor is recommended to ensure your treatment was successful.

Want to learn more about STDs and whether you should get tested? Call Dr. Faride Ramos at 954-463-5271, or schedule an appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Stress Affects Your Blood Pressure

Stress may be a fact of life, but you don’t have to let it push your blood pressure levels through the roof. Find out how minimizing your stress levels can help you control your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing chronic hypertension.

How to Boost Your Immune System

A healthy immune system is able to zap all kinds of pathogens, including viruses. As long as you give it the support it needs, your immune system helps keep you safe. Here’s how to get the most of your natural defenses.

What is Functional Medicine?

Do you feel like traditional medicine isn’t meeting all your health needs? Are you looking for a holistic alternative that’s just as effective? In this article, you’ll learn about the breakthrough that is functional medicine, and how you can harness it.

Telehealth: The Advantages of Telemedicine

Struggles to get to the clinic? Trying to reduce your exposure to COVID-19, as well as other contagious illnesses, and still need to see your doctor? Telehealth is safe and easy — receive quality care from anywhere.