Over 9 million women are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) each year. STDs include viruses, bacteria, and parasites that spread via sexual contact – including vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse.
Women need to take STDs seriously. They’re not just minor inconveniences because they can cause serious long-term health complications. Here’s what you should know about STDs from our expert OB/GYN team at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills in South Bay, Redondo Beach, and Beverly Hills, California.
Women contract STDs more easily than men. The vagina’s thin, moist lining means it’s more vulnerable to infection. Unprotected sex (sex without a condom) increases the risk of contracting an STD. This is especially true if a woman participates in unprotected anal sex.
Genital touching can spread an STD. Women who have sex with other women are also at risk of developing an STD.
You can’t tell that your partner has an STD just by looking at them. Women are also less likely than men to have symptoms of common STDs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia. If you’ve been sexually active, you may have an STD and not know it. That’s why regular testing is important.
Women are at risk of complications as a result of STDs. Untreated, these infections can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, potential ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.
A pregnant woman can also spread STDs like genital herpes, syphilis, and HIV to her baby.
A woman with an STD like genital herpes or syphilis is more likely to contract HIV. The sores caused by these infections make it easier for HIV to enter the body.
We want to help protect you from STDs. While abstinence is a surefire way to prevent infection, it’s not always practical. A healthy sex life is part of a good quality of life.
Limit your number of sexual partners or, if possible, commit to a mutually monogamous relationship. If you do have multiple partners, use condoms every time you have sexual contact. Even if you are on other forms of birth control, the male or female condom is the only protection against STDs.
We are available to discuss your sexuality and concerns about STDs. We usually recommend testing at least once per year for gonorrhea and chlamydia for sexually active women under 25. If you’re older than 25 and have new or multiple sex partners or a partner with an STD, you should also get yearly testing.
Pregnant women should test for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C early in pregnancy. We may also recommend testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea early in pregnancy. Rest assured that most STDs can be cleared up or managed with medications.
Talking about STDs and sexuality can be uncomfortable, but the OB/GYN team at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills offers compassion and understanding during your conversations. If you need STD testing or suspect you have an infection, call or use the online tool to book.