STD Awareness Month: Strides in STD Treatment

Young woman meeting with a doctor

The field of research and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections is always growing. Recent advancements range from easier and longer life expectancies for AIDS patients, to engineering better ways to prevent HPV from developing into cervical cancer. In a future-focused world, where the stigma around STDs is disappearing as research grows, you should not be afraid to get tested, seek treatment, and be honest with your loved ones about your condition.

If you think you may have an STD, here is some advice on what your next steps should be:

1. Get Tested

If you are sexually active, you should be getting tested regularly for STDs. Depending on your lifestyle, this could be every three months to once a year. If you are between testing periods and have unprotected sex, share drug equipment, or start to experience possible STD symptoms, you should get tested again as soon as possible. The way to know if you have an STD is through testing. The earlier you get tested, the sooner you can begin treatment to cure or treat your STD.

While getting tested, do not be afraid to discuss other prevention and treatment options with your doctor. They will be able to answer most questions you may have.

2. Get Treated

There are two types of STDs: bacterial and viral. Bacterial STDs can be cured by taking an antibiotic. If you have been prescribed an antibiotic by your doctor, make sure you take the full amount. Do not stop taking the medication when your symptoms lessen or stop. Abruptly stopping your medication cycle before completion puts you at risk for re-infection of a stronger strain of your STD.

Viral STDs cannot be cured, but they can be treated and managed with antiviral medication. If you have been diagnosed with a viral STD, start medication and learn about managing your condition.

If you had sexual partners during a time you may have had an STD, they may be eligible for expedited partner therapy. Expedited partner therapy allows a doctor to prescribe medication without having seen your partner. Talk with your doctor and partner about beginning this treatment.

  • If You Have HIV/AIDS: Although HIV cannot be cured, it can be managed with medication. Depending on how advanced your illness is, your doctor can make recommendations for antiretroviral drug therapy, as dosage varies for every patient.
  • If You Have Herpes: Once the herpes virus is in your body, it is with you for life. This does not mean you will constantly experience painful outbreaks. Taking antiviral medication can help reduce the length and severity of your outbreaks. If you are experiencing outbreaks often, your doctor can also work with you to prescribe medicine to suppress them.
  • If You Have Syphilis:The preferred treatment at all stages is penicillin, an antibiotic medication that can kill the organism causing syphilis. If left untreated, Syphilis can spread and cause damage to other parts of your body, including your brain. You can begin medication for Syphilis at any point, but it will not reverse the damage already done to your body.
  • If You Have Chlamydia or Gonorrhea:Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. Even if you no longer experience symptoms, you should visit your doctor three months after finishing your antibiotics to be retested for STDs. Any partner(s) you had during the time you may have had Chlamydia or Gonorrhea should be tested as well, regardless of whether or not they display symptoms.

If left undiagnosed or untreated, an STD/STI could result in permanent long-term health complications. Infections with high-risk HPV can cause serious consequences in the cervix leading to cervical cancer if untreated. Consequently, others could lead to problems affecting not only you, but your unborn child. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease can lead to chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Still some STD/STIs pose a number of serious risks to the pregnancy itself, from low birth weight, brain damage, blindness, deafness, and even stillbirth. STIs can also pass from mother to baby during pregnancy and during delivery.

3. Do Your Homework

Once you have been diagnosed with an STD, make an effort to learn as much as you can about treating and controlling your condition. If it’s a treatable condition, learn how to practice safer sex, so you can protect yourself from re-infection in the future. In addition to taking care of your own health, it is important to learn safer sex practices so you can protect any future partners you may have. Consider getting involved with campaigns or groups that spread awareness and information about STDs. Teach others about how to protect themselves. Help fight the stigma surrounding STDs.

4. Move Forward

Although an STD diagnosis may feel like the end of the world, it is not. All STDs are treatable, and many are curable. Millions of people live with viral STDs every day. If you are worried about the judgment of friends or family, direct them toward health care professionals and informational materials; education is the best weapon against ignorance. Many people do not realize how common STDs are and how easy they are to contract.

If you are concerned about your dating life, honesty is always the best policy. Although it is a personal decision concerning when you feel it is appropriate to reveal your STD status, it is preferable you tell your partner before having sex. Your partner should be able to make an informed decision about his or her own health. If you are in a sexual relationship, practice safer sex with your partner and continue the treatment plan for your STD. Encourage your partner to have regular testing for STDs.

Are you ready to get tested or treated for STD/STIs? Our team at Capital Women’s Care can help you get connected to the resources you need.

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The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

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