What are Sexually Transmitted Infections?
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections that are passed from one person to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Some infections are local, meaning they affect only one organ, while other STIs are systemic, meaning an infection of the whole body. STIs can be common in certain groups at certain ages and may have no symptoms.
Why are Sexually Transmitted Infections Important?
STIs are passed on from a sexual partner who carries one, meaning you should practice safe sex and get regular screenings. STIs can negatively affect your health if left untreated, and you can pass them on to other partners if you’re unaware that you’ve contracted one. For these reasons, it’s important to know what types of STIs exist, how you can come into contact with them, and how they can be treated with the help of your gynecologist.
How Can My Gynecologist Help?
Most STIs are easily treatable. Testing for STIs is a quick procedure performed in your gynecologist’s office. STIs can lead to long-term consequences if left undiagnosed or untreated, so it’s important to be tested regularly if you are sexually active or have more than one partner.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that women under the age of 26 be tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea each year, or as needed following age 25. ACOG also recommends that every woman be offered annual testing for HIV. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that testing for STIs be done on request. The CDC also recommends testing be tailored to individuals based on age and local statistics:
- Chlamydia/Gonorrhea, Trichomonas, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and
- HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, syphilis, and Herpes (HSV).
Testing for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomonas, and HPV are done with a pelvic exam in-office. Testing for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, syphilis, and HSV is done through a blood test.
Furthermore, your gynecologist can discuss your sexual activity and recommend ways to protect yourself and your partner from transmitting infections through different contraceptive methods. We understand it can be a difficult conversation, so our compassionate team can make sure you feel comfortable and heard.
Schedule an Appointment
Treatment and (in many cases) cures are available for common sexually transmitted infections. General information can be found online at https://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm.
To learn more about STIs and how to prevent them, as well as undergo comprehensive tests, schedule an appointment with our gynecologists at our New York City office. To schedule an appointment, we invite you to call or fill out our online form.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are STI permanent?
Most STIs are treatable or curable. Some STIs, such as herpes, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDs, or HPV, are treatable but cannot be cured.
Can STD symptoms appear within 24 hours?
The shortest interval from exposure to a sexually transmitted disease to symptoms of that infection is 1-2 days, but very few (Herpes, Gonorrhea) have that ability. The majority of STDs (eg: Chlamydia, Trichomonas, Syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B) don’t manifest for 1-4 weeks. That means after a potential exposure cultures are unlikely to reveal an infection for (at least) 2-3 weeks) and should be repeated 1-2 months later because some of these STDs (eg: Syphilis, HIV) may not be detectable for that amount of time.
Do normal blood tests show STDs?
Most normal blood work does not include STD testing. In order to detect an STD, your gynecologist can order special blood tests to detect these diseases.
What happens if you dont treat an STI?
If an STI is left untreated, there can be serious side effects including damage to organs, neurological manifestations, blindness, infertility, and in pregnant women, mother-to-child transmission, or birth defects.