In the 1940s, sexually transmitted diseases (STD) like syphilis were rampant. A public awareness campaign, combined with effective antibiotics, almost eliminated syphilis and slowed the progression of other STDs. But decades later, STDs are back and reaching record highs.
Symptoms often go unnoticed
2016 marked the third year in a row that STD rates have risen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The good news is these diseases still respond well to antibiotic treatment.
The bad news is they often go unnoticed, and untreated, because symptoms may not be so obvious:
Untreated STDs cause long-term health problems
While antibiotics can be an effective treatment for STDs, some of these infections are becoming more resistant to antibiotics. Since symptoms are often not present or mimic a cold or flu, many people don’t seek treatment.
The consequences of an untreated STD include:
You can prevent STDs
Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are spread through sexual contact – oral, vaginal or anal. But they are also passed through childbirth. While anyone who is sexually active is at risk, the CDC says there are three groups who have a higher likelihood of having an STD:
The only way to completely prevent getting an STD is to avoid sexual contact. Beyond that, the correct use of condoms can help you lower your chances of infection. You are also safer when you are in a sexual relationship with only one individual who is not sexually active with others. If you are at risk for STDs, get tested.
UCLA Health’s primary care practices or OB/GYN specialists can provide annual exams for men and women, as well as provide testing and treatment if you have symptoms or risk factors. They can also offer tips to help patients take care of themselves, their partners and their unborn children.