Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have no symptoms, especially in women, so it is hard to know if you have been infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are approximately 19 million new STD infections in the United States every year. Periodic testing is recommended for anyone with multiple sexual partners, even if they are having protected sex. It is important to communicate with your partner and ask them if they have or have ever had an STD.
STD testing is recommended annually between the ages of 16 and 25 even if you protected sex. It must be specifically requested. At Women’s Gynecologic Associates, we offer safe and confidential STD testing and treatment. Depending upon the types of STD you need to be tested for, it may require a blood test, urine test, swab sample from your genitals or a tissue sample.
If you are diagnosed with an STD, most can fortunately be treated effectively. Many, however, cannot be cured. Oral or injected antibiotics are prescribed for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis and patients usually respond well. There is no cure for genital warts, but flare-ups can be shortened with antiviral medications. HIV also has no cure but can be treated with a combination of medications. STDs are serious infections that can cause lifelong or recurring symptoms and side effects. It is important to practice safe sex and get tested often.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a type of virus that can cause genital warts or cervical cancer. There are more than 100 different kinds of HPV and a few of them may create a higher risk of cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, and anus. Other types of HPV can cause genital warts, while some others will show no symptoms. The virus is contracted through sexual contact. The risk of catching HPV can be reduced by the use of latex condoms.
Treatment of HPV
While there is no cure for HPV, treatment for symptoms such as genital warts, cervical changes and cervical cancer is available. HPV treatment will depend on the diagnosis and the severity of the infection.
Genital warts may be treated with:
- Laser treatment or surgery to remove the warts
Treatment will remove the genital warts but it does not cure the infection. Patients can still transmit the HPV infection to a sexual partner.
Other types of lesions may be treated with surgery, laser treatments or cryotherapy to prevent them from developing into cervical cancer.
HPV testing is available in our office and may be covered by your health insurance.
Gardasil is a series of 3 shots which protect against the high risk forms of HPV. They protect against four different types of HPV; 2 of which cause 70% of cervical cancer and 2 of which are responsible for 90% of genital warts. Gardasil is recommended and covered by your insurance for women ages 9 through 26. With Gardasil vaccination you can greatly reduce your risk of getting genital warts or cervical cancer.