If you are sexually active, you may have an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or STI (sexually transmitted infection).
According to the CDC, there are about 20 million new cases of STDs transmitted in the US each year. Over half of those are contracted by people aged 15-24 years old. This age group also only makes up 25% of the entire sexually active population. Some STDs can be cured with specific medications, some others currently have no cure, but medication may still be needed to manage the disease.
Symptoms include sores, rash, painful or burning urination, discharge, fever, and pain. But many STDs do not show symptoms at all and can cause complications if they go untreated.
STDs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, causing complications such as formation of scar tissue (outside or inside) the fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancy, infertility or long-term pelvic and or abdominal pain. And women considering an abortion, should be tested prior to an abortion to minimize your chance of PID’s.
If you are pregnant, STDs can infect the baby either before and during pregnancy or after the baby is born.
It can be scary to wonder if you might have a sexually transmitted disease. Because you can’t rely on symptoms, getting tested is the only way to know for sure whether or not you have an STD. If you are sexually active the CDC recommends getting screened for STDs every 3-6 months for some diseases like HIV, or at least once a year for bacterial infections like gonorrhea. It’s important to find out so that you can receive medication. It’s also a responsibility to let your partner know so they can get tested and treated too.