Diagnose and Prevent STDs

July 22, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs: Risk of Getting STDs

Any woman who is sexually active is at risk for becoming infected with an STD.  The risk is increased by certain factors, among which are unprotected sex, having more than one sexual partner, not knowing the history of sexual partners and use of illegal intravenous drugs.

Women should learn what the signs are and if symptoms develop, a physician should be contacted immediately.  Even if the symptoms disappear, it does not mean the disease is gone.  Common signs of STDs include pain the lower back, lower abdomen and/or pelvic area, especially during intercourse; painful urination and bowel movements and burning or itching in the genital area; unusual discharge or bleeding from the vagina possibly accompanied by a foul odor; sores, blisters, warts, lumps or bumps in the genital, oral or anal areas.  Sometimes symptoms which could be associated with other types of common infections, such as a sore throat, fever, sweats, swollen glands and body aches can also be signs of sexually transmitted diseases.  A scaly rash on the palms and soles indicate syphilis and jaundice can also be an indicator of STDs.  A sexually active woman should be tested regularly for STDs, especially if she has several partners.  Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent future damage.

The Diagnosis Process for STDs

Routine check-ups and testing are the most common method of diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases.  When symptoms are present, the ObGyn may perform several different tests to determine the exact type of STD the woman has contracted.  In order to diagnose the STD, the physician will take a detailed medical history.  A complete physical exam, including a pelvic exam will be done which includes careful examination of the genital area, oral cavity and rectum.  If there are sores or a discharge, a swab may be taken for testing.  A Pap smear might also be done and sent along with any other swabs for testing.  Blood work and urinalysis is common as well in order to detect or rule out certain diseases.  Once there is a diagnosis, it is important for a woman to advise her sexual partners, both past and present about the diagnosis so they can be tested and treated if necessary.

Different STDs - Different Treatments

The type of STD will determine the treatment.  Bacterial STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics.  Parasitical STDs can be treated by over-the-counter drugs.  Viral STDs, such as herpes, HPV and HIV are not curable, but drugs may be prescribed to bring the disease under control and, as in the case of HPV which may cause warts; these warts can be chemically treated and removed.

You're In Control: Prevent STDs

Prevention is often a matter of common sense.  Correctly using a latex condom, while not always 100 percent effective, significantly reduces the risk of contracting an STD.  Cleanliness, washing the vaginal area after sex, urinating after sex (which may help reduce the risk of bacteria entering the urethra), self-examination, avoiding douching (which tampers with the balance of flora) and avoiding anal intercourse are all effective ways of preventing the spread of STDs.

 

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