Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be a unique problem for women, since many infections produce no immediate symptoms. By the time you’re aware of the signs of an infection, the disease may have moderately progressed. STD testing — at appropriate times — can keep you healthy and happy.
Any discussion of sexuality can be embarrassing, but open and honest discussion is in your best interest. Alexandra Pellicena, M.D. FACOG is a sensitive and caring practitioner, focused on the health of her patients. She has your comfort in mind through this delicate but necessary process.
The consequences of STDs
Without regular testing, it’s difficult to know if you have a sexually transmitted infection since many have either no symptoms in the early stages or mild symptoms that are easily mistaken for other conditions. Without treatment, you could be vulnerable to:
- Organ damage
What you do know, however, is the nature of your sexual life, and you can estimate when you may be at an elevated risk of infection. Increased risk doesn’t mean you have an infection; it’s merely an indication that testing is a good idea to avoid future problems. As with many medical conditions, early detection often means the difference between a problem that’s simple to treat and a serious health issue that may dominate your life.
When to test
Anyone who is sexually active should be tested for STDs regularly. Your age, lifestyle, and sexual habits may influence the frequency and nature of the STD testing that’s best for you.
As a starting point, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers some testing guidelines. You may also get recommendations from another reliable health care service, or discuss the testing type and frequency with your trusted gynecologist, Dr. Pellicena, based on your health and habits.
Annual screenings are recommended for sexually active women under the age of 25, or for older women who have increased risk due to sex with new or multiple partners. Victims of sexual assault or any sexual activity against their will should also seek testing. These infections could have few symptoms.
The CDC recommends HIV testing for everyone between 13 and 64 at least once as part of a general health review. If your sexual activity includes high-risk activities for HIV, more frequent testing is advised.
Request a syphilis test if you’ve had another STD, or if you have had more than one sexual partner since your last test. Syphilis testing is also prudent as a safety precaution if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
It is caused by a virus that can be sexually transmitted as well as by blood or sharing of infected needles or from mother to baby at birth. Like other STD infections, newly infected persons may not show any symptoms. Testing will be the best method to identify its presence.
Some types of human papillomavirus can lead to cervical cancer. While HPV usually disappears within two years, the damage may remain. Women over 30 should have HPV tests every five years unless there were abnormal results in an earlier test, in which case more frequent testing is recommended.
These are not the only infections or tests you may encounter. Contact Alexandra Pellicena, MD, FACOG by phone or online to schedule a confidential consultation. Your sexual health is important. Book your appointment now.