In both resource-rich and limited settings, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health problem. STDs are typically asymptomatic and may lead to other additional complications. The main aim of testing for STDs in women is to help identify and treat infected women, preventing them from developing other complications. Testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases in women also help to identify and treat the sexual partners, thus preventing transmissions and reinfections. Complications of untreated sexually transmitted diseases may vary, and they include upper genital tract infections, chronic pelvic pain, infertility, cervical cancer, HIV infection, and chronic Hepatitis B. All Women's Care handles all tests and treatments of STD.
Testing and Screening for STDs
You may undergo testing for STD if your current symptoms and your sexual history suggest that you have a sexually transmitted disease. Several laboratory tests can help to identify the cause of the disease. The tests can also help to identify other co-infections you may have. You do not have to wait for particular symptoms for you to undergo STD testing. You may undergo STD screening even if you do not have any symptoms.
It is advisable for persons between the ages of thirteen years and sixty-four years, women included, to undergo regular testing for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This is the virus responsible for causing AIDS. If you are at a high risk of acquiring HIV, you should undergo at least one HIV test every year.
Women born between the years 1945 and 1965 have a high risk of developing hepatitis C. The disease does not portray any symptoms until it is advanced in the body. It is, therefore, advisable for women in this age group to undergo testing for hepatitis C now and then.
All pregnant women have to undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases. If you are pregnant, you may undergo testing for HIV and hepatitis B. You may also undergo testing for other STDs like Chlamydia and Syphilis. You may undergo the tests during your first prenatal visit. Some women have a high risk for hepatitis B and Gonorrhea; these women should undergo testing for these STDs at least once during their pregnancy.
If you are a woman below the age of 25 years, but you are sexually active, it is advisable to undergo testing for Chlamydia infection. The test entails examining a sample of your urine or vaginal fluid. If you test positive for Chlamydia, your gynecologist will put you on treatment. It is recommended to repeat the Chlamydia test three months after testing positive and undergoing treatment. It is common to get a re-infection with the STD from your undertreated or untreated sexual partner. It is important to run a second test to ensure that you are cured of the disease.
You can acquire the Chlamydia infection multiple times. Therefore, every time you get a new sexual partner, it is advisable to undergo testing. For sexually active women below the age of 25 years, it is advisable to undergo regular testing for Gonorrhea.
Testing for STDs may help to reveal the presence of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is the leading cause of cervical abnormalities, including precancerous changes, cancer, and inflammation. Starting at the age of 21 years, a woman should have a pap test every three years. After the age of 30 years, a woman should undergo a Human Papillomavirus DNA test and a Pap test every five years. At the age of thirty years and above, you may choose to undergo a Pap test every three years.
Women with HIV are at a higher risk of contracting other STDs. It is therefore advisable to undergo testing for other STDs like Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Herpes if you are suffering from HIV. Experts also recommend that if you are living with HIV, it advisable to get a screening for hepatitis. HIV may lead to an aggressive form of cervical cancer. After contracting HIV, it is advisable to have a Pap test within the year of HIV diagnosis. You should have another Pap test six months later.
It is particularly important to undergo testing for STDs if you have a new sexual partner. However, for some STDs like genital Herpes, routine testing is not advisable. You should only undergo testing for Herpes if you have some symptoms.
A gynecologist can conduct several tests to determine if you have a sexually transmitted disease. Blood tests can help to reveal sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. Blood tests may also help reveal the presence of Syphilis in the later stages. The gynecologist may also analyze your urine sample to detect STDs. The gynecologist may use fluid samples to detect STDs, especially if you have open genital sores.
What Should You Expect
It can be traumatic to find out that you are suffering from a sexually transmitted disease. You may experience feelings of anger, shame, and betrayal. You may also experience feelings of guilt if you suspect that you have infected other people with the illness. However, it is advisable to seek treatment because if ignored, an STD may lead to death or a chronic illness.
When you are planning to undergo a test for sexually transmitted diseases, you may be unsure of what to expect. How should you prepare for an appointment with the gynecologist? It is common for most people to feel uncomfortable to share their sexual experiences. However, to be able to get the best care, you have to rise above this fear and share the information with your gynecologist.
It is important to understand if there are any pre-appointment restrictions. Therefore, ensure that you ask your gynecologist whether you need to do anything before the testing. If you are experiencing any symptoms, you may write them down in advance in preparation for the doctor's appointment. Ensure that you also take note of all medications you may be taking, including prescribed and over-the-counter medication. Be free with your gynecologist, and seek answers for all questions you may have.
Your gynecologist will seek some information from you at the time of the testing. For instance, he/she may seek to know the symptoms you are experiencing and for how long the symptoms have lasted. You may also have to reveal if you are currently sexually active. Do you have one sexual partner or several sexual partners? It may be necessary to disclose the length of time you have been with your sexual partner or partners. Your gynecologist may also seek to know your health history, including whether you have suffered from sexually transmitted diseases in the past. Knowing what to expect in advance will help you feel free to share the information requested with relative ease.
If you suspect that you have a sexually transmitted disease, it is advisable not to indulge in sexual activity before talking to your doctor. This will help prevent the condition from deteriorating. You will avoid transmitting the condition to your sexual partner. If you decide to engage in sexual activity before meeting the gynecologist for testing and treatment, you should ensure that you follow safe sex practices, including using a condom.
Testing for Specific STDs
The approach of STD testing and management will depend on the disease or the symptom-specific syndromes. Many patients usually have an asymptomatic disease, and this increases the risk of sustained transmission in the community and the risk of complications. Testing is an important approach that helps to identify infected individuals who would otherwise go undetected. Tests are available for specific STDs including:
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
In the United States, infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis are very common. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are the two most commonly reported communicable diseases. The primary benefit for women to undergo testing for the disease is to reduce the inherent risk of reproductive sequelae. The two infections are asymptomatic or minimally asymptomatic in women. If the illnesses are left untreated, they may lead to more severe complications. The complications may include complications of pregnancy, infertility, and pelvic inflammatory disease. You may also experience chronic pelvic pain. The two illnesses are most common among adolescents and adults. Therefore, young women are the focus of testing.
You should undergo annual testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea if you are a sexually active woman under the age of twenty-five years. You should also undergo testing if you are a woman above the age of twenty-five years, and you are at a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. You are at a high risk of contracting STDs if you have new or multiple sexual partners.
Gynecologists carry out the test for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea through a urine test or a swab inside the cervix of women. The experts then analyze the samples in a laboratory. It is important to undergo regular testing because you may have an infection and no symptoms.
It is not recommended to undergo regular screening for Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections. However, it is useful to undergo type-specific testing for HSV, especially if you are at risk of developing genital Herpes. Genital Herpes could pose a great risk to you, especially during pregnancy. Genital Herpes is common, and the condition can be subclinical. You may get an infection from persons who are unaware of their infections or during the asymptomatic periods in between outbreaks. The experts reserve treatment for people with symptomatic disease. Screening for genital Herpes is particularly discouraged among pregnant women.
There are no excellent tests for Herpes. Your gynecologist may obtain a tissue scraping, culture, or early ulcers or blisters if present. The experts will then analyze the samples in the laboratory. It is important to note that a negative test does not rule out the presence of Herpes, mainly if genital ulcerations are present.
Blood tests may come in handy in detecting Herpes. However, it is important to note that the blood test results may not be conclusive in revealing whether you have Herpes. A blood test may help the medical practitioner determine whether you have type 1 Herpes or type 2 Herpes. Type 1 Herpes often leads to cold sores, but it may also lead to genital sores. Type two Herpes is the leading cause of genital sores, which are more common. The clarity of the blood test results will depend on the stage of infection and the sensitivity of the test.
If not treated, Syphilis may lead to serious sequelae characterized by neurological and cardiac manifestations. You can prevent the adverse effects of the disease by ensuring that you seek treatment in the early stages of the disease. Testing and treatment of Syphilis help to reduce the transmission of the infection. The presence of Syphilis may also increase the chances of increased risk of transmission and acquisition of HIV. In the United States, Syphilis is not as common as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. However, the illness may be high among certain risk groups, especially among people infected with HIV.
You should request for a test of Syphilis if you test positive for another sexually transmitted disease. Testing positive for one sexually transmitted disease puts you at a higher risk of developing other STDs. You may also consider a Syphilis test if you have more than one sexual partner. If your partner has had more than one sexual partner since the last time you underwent the test, you may consider the test.
You may also consider a test for Syphilis if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. If you have engaged in sexual activity against your will, for instance, through rape, you may consider getting tested for Syphilis. The test for Syphilis entails taking a blood sample and analyzing it in the laboratory. Your gynecologist may also test for Syphilis using a swab from the genitals sores if present. He/she then examines the sample from the swab in the laboratory.
HIV and hepatitis viruses
An infected individual may suffer excess morbidity and mortality for untreated HIV, chronic hepatitis C, and chronic hepatitis B. Both HIV and hepatitis B and C are sexually transmitted illnesses, but it is possible to contract the illnesses through other means. It is advisable to undergo testing for hepatitis C if you were born between 1945 and 1965. People in this age group have a high risk of developing hepatitis C. If the tests show that you have not had exposure to hepatitis A or B viruses, you may benefit from vaccines to keep you from getting the illness.
You should undergo HIV testing at least once every year if you are an adolescent or an adult between the ages of thirteen years and sixty-four years. Younger girls may undergo tests for HIV if they have high risks of getting the disease. A blood sample can be analyzed to reveal the presence of HIV or Hepatitis.
Human Papillomavirus is a persistent viral infection characterized by high-risk genotypes. The virus is associated with anal cancer and oropharyngeal cancer. HPV virus also causes all types of cervical cancers. Testing may help to reveal the detection of HPV infection and abnormalities caused by the persistent infection with HPV.
Certain forms of Human Papillomavirus may cause cervical cancers, while other forms of the virus often lead to genital warts. Many sexually active people get an HPV infection at some point in their lives, but the majority of them do not show any symptoms of infection. An HPV infection may last for up to two years and then disappear. In women, the process of testing for HPV involves conducting a Pap test or an HPV test. Pap test helps to identify any abnormal cells in the cervix. All women between the ages of 21 and 65 years should undergo a Pap test every three years.
An HPV test is mainly common in women above the age of 30 years. Women of above thirty years may choose to undergo an HPV test alongside a Pap test every five years if the previous test were normal. For women between the ages of 21 and 30 years, an HPV test is recommended if the gynecologist obtains abnormal results in the Pap test. Currently, there is a vaccine that can help to protect women from some types of HPV. However, the vaccines for HPV are effective if administered before a person reaches the age of active sexual activity.
Treatment for STDs
It is easy to treat sexually transmitted diseases resulting from bacterial infections. However, although it is possible to control STDs resulting from viruses, it is not always easy to cure them. It is particularly important to seek prompt treatment for STDs if you are pregnant to prevent your baby from contracting the infection. Your gynecologist may employ several methods while treating sexually transmitted diseases. Some of the commonly used treatment options include:
Antibiotics – It is easy to cure many sexually transmitted diseases using a single dose of antibiotics. Antibiotics also come in handy in treating parasitic infections, including Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. In most cases, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia occur together. Therefore, your gynecologist may treat the two infections using a single dose of antibiotics.
Once the doctor recommends a dose of antibiotics, it is advisable to follow through and complete the full dosage for the best results. If you feel that you may not be able to honor the dosage as required, you should inform your doctor. The doctor may prescribe a simpler and shorter course of treatment. While on antibiotics treatment, it is advisable to abstain from sexual activities until seven days after the completion of the antibiotic treatment. You should also wait until all your sores have fully healed before you participate in sexual activities. There is always a high chance of reinfection even after undergoing successful treatment. Women should undergo further testing three months after the treatment.
Antiviral Drugs –For a sexually transmitted disease caused by a virus, you will need a course of antiviral drugs to fight the infection. For instance, if you are suffering from Herpes from HIV, antiviral drugs are effective in treating the infection. If you are suffering from Herpes, you will have fewer recurrences of the illness. To help reduce Herpes recurrences, you should combine the prescription antiviral drug with daily suppressive therapy. However, it is important to note that even while you are on treatment for Herpes, you can still pass the disease to your partner.
Antiviral drugs are effective in suppressing an HIV infection. With the drugs, you can keep an HIV infection in check for many years. However, it is important to note that you will still have the virus in your body, and you can pass it on to other people. However, while you are on antiviral drugs, the chances of transmitting the infection to other people are lower. While dealing with an HIV infection, the earlier you start antiviral treatment, the better. It is possible to reduce HIV to the extent that it will be hard to detect the virus. However, for this successful treatment, you have to be disciplined and take your medication exactly the way your doctor recommends.
If you are suffering from a sexually transmitted disease, it is advisable to ask your doctor after how long you will need to retest after the treatment. A retest will help reveal whether the treatment worked and will also reveal reinfection, if any.
If you realize that you are suffering from a sexually transmitted disease, it is advisable to inform your partner, who should, in turn, gets tested and seeks treatment. It is advisable to inform your current sex partner and any other partner you may have had in the past three months to one year.
Different states in the United States have different rules regarding sexually transmitted diseases. In some states, it is a requirement to report certain forms of STDs to the local of the state Department of Health. The Public Health Departments may then make the necessary arrangements to inform the partners of the infected persons and urge them to go for testing and seek treatment. Reliable partner notification can help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Contact a Gynecologist near Me
If you suspect that you are suffering from a sexually transmitted disease, hold off placing the blame on your partner. Instead, simply visit a reliable gynecologist and undergo the proper testing and diagnosis. You can then commence the proper treatment procedure. All Women's Care handles all STDs related to women. Contact us at 213-250-9461 and speak to one of our experts today.