The Most Common STDs and How to Treat Them

The Most Common STDs and How to Treat Them

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) result from sexually transmitted infections (STI), which are caused by either bacteria or a virus and spread through sexual contact. You can have an STI and pass it to someone else without ever having a symptom of an STD. That’s why, if you’re sexually active, testing for STIs and STDs is essential to both your health and your partner’s health.

At Lake Mary Gynecology in Lake Mary, Florida, our expert and compassionate gynecologist, Sonia Enriquez, MD, recommends STD testing as part of your annual well-woman exam. She also advises that you get tested for STDs as soon as you notice any unusual symptoms.

Although nobody wants an STI or STD, today’s medical advancements have led to effective treatments. Following are some of the most common STDs, as well as the treatments that can help you either manage or reduce symptoms or cure the infection altogether.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most prevalent types of STIs. There’s not just one type of HPV, however. Some strains of HPV cause genital warts. Others cause cervical cancer.

Even though there’s no cure for HPV, detection can help you avoid complications and take steps to prevent spreading it to others. For instance, if you have an HPV infection that could cause cervical cancer, and also have changes in your cervical cells that could be cancerous, early treatment can be curative.

If you don’t have evidence of cancerous or precancerous changes, your doctor may want you to have a Pap smear every year. Pap smears have a high detection rate for abnormal cells, so that you can be treated at early, curable stages.

If you have genital warts, you may choose to have them removed surgically. However, they will recur and you can pass them to your intimate partners. 

Always be sure to use condoms or dams to minimize transmission of genital warts or HPV. Be advised, though, that HPV can be transmitted through intimate touch alone.

Genital herpes

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is another common viral infection that has no cure and is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact. Herpes is so common that your doctor may not even test you for it unless you display symptoms, such as blisters or sores on your genitalia. It’s another STD that many people carry without realizing they have it.

Once you know you have herpes, however, you can take steps to prevent transmitting it to your partner or increasing its spread on your own body. Avoid sexual activity when you have an outbreak. 

You should also take antiviral medications to reduce the number of outbreaks you have. The antivirals don’t kill the virus, though, so once you have herpes, you have it for life.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is another viral STI. Without treatment, hepatitis B can permanently damage your liver. The FDA has approved five different drugs, including interferon, that prevent hepatitis from spreading and causing damage to your organs.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea

Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacterial infections, so they can be cured with a course of antibiotics. However, some strains of gonorrhea are antibiotic-resistant, so you and your partner may need to take more than one type of antibiotic at a time. Without treatment, these infections can cause infertility.

Syphilis

While syphilis used to be a deadly disease, it can now be cured with penicillin. You must treat syphilis as early as possible to kill the bacteria and prevent it from spreading to your organs and causing irreversible damage. 

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis, or “trich,” is an infection caused by a one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It often doesn’t cause symptoms, but it does make you more susceptible to other infections, including HIV/AIDS.

Given the risk that trich can lead to more serious STDs, you should be tested for the organism during your well-woman exam. Trichomoniasis has a 90% cure rate with the drug metronidazole. 

HIV/AIDS

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS can be managed with antiretroviral drugs. You need to take a “cocktail” of drugs to prevent disease progression and minimize symptoms. 

Recently, stem cell transplants have cured three patients with HIV, a medical first. However, this treatment is highly experimental and doesn’t work for everyone. Concentrate on controlling your symptoms with early diagnosis and retroviral treatment.

Take charge of your sexual health and your well-being by scheduling an STD test or well-woman exam today. Phone our helpful staff or book an appointment with our convenient online form.

You Might Also Enjoy...

It Hurts When I Have Sex

Dyspareunia is the medical term for a very intimate problem: Pain during intercourse. Dyspareunia isn’t normal. If you have pain during sex, you deserve to find out why, and get the treatment you need to enjoy intimacy again (or for the first time).

How Cervical Stenosis Impacts Your Period

If your periods have stopped, become painful, or seem much lighter than usual, you may have a rare condition called cervical stenosis. Cervical stenosis is a narrowing or closure of your cervix. You can get help.

My Pap Smear Was Abnormal. What Should I Do Next?

When you find out that your Pap smear came back with abnormal cells detected, the first thing you should not do is panic. An abnormal Pap smear simply means that you need to be tested again. Here’s what you can expect.

10 Tips for Managing Menopause Symptoms at Work

Your company’s back to in-person meetings. You’re in the middle of an important one, when suddenly you start to sweat profusely. No, you’re not afraid you’re about to get fired: You’re having a hot flash at work. Here’s what to do.