STDs have a massive stigma around them. Everyone feels uncomfortable talking about them, and getting one means others can treat you like a pariah. Many others worry about how it will impact their relationships and dating life. Hearing that a potential partner has an STD can make some afraid and turn away. Because of this rejection, many people would rather live in ignorance than confirm they have an STD and risk endangering the relationships that are important to them.
However, STDs are more common than you might think. Living in ignorance is no way to handle the potential of having an STD. Virtual healthcare is making it easier to test and treat STDs, giving you a way to get help without having to go into a doctor’s office. Read on to see how common they are, why and how you should get tested, and what some of the common symptoms are.
How Common are STDs?
Because STDs are mostly unreported, it’s difficult to know precisely how common they are.
However, 20 million STD cases are reported each year.
It’s estimated that one in two people will get an STD before they turn 25.
Treating STDs costs the medical industry about $16 billion each year. This figure comes not just from tests, but also from easing symptoms and treating complications as well.
What Are The Most Common STDs?
There are dozens of different types of STDs. However, there are a few that are more common than others.
While HIV is probably the most known STD because of its effect on the body when it turns into AIDS, it is not the most common disease. It is up there with common ailments.
The four most common STDs are HPV, Chlamydia, HIV, and Gonorrhea. 79 million people have HPV. 1.8 million people have Chlamydia, over 1 million people have HIV, and more than 240,000 people have Gonorrhea. These are all reported numbers, and the actual number of infections is expected to be much higher.
HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is the most common STD by far. While harmless most of the time, it can cause cancer and genital warts. There are more than 200 different types that can affect your genitals, rectum, mouth, and throat, depending on which one is present.
Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. It tends to affect younger people more than older people. As many as 1 in 10 females tested positive for the disease. It can easily be treated with antibiotics. Untreated, it can cause infections and infertility.
The CDC estimates that around 1 million people are living with HIV nationwide. Not all people who have HIV necessarily have AIDS. The difficulty with HIV is that people can have it without knowing they have it, therefore making it easy to pass to you.
Gonorrhea is caused by a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It impacts men more than women, and when present in women, it’s often mistaken for a bladder infection. Symptoms are sometimes not present, and the only way to know for sure is to get tested.
What Are Their Symptoms?
STD symptoms vary depending on which type of infection you have. Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening, so getting tested as soon as possible is vital to prevent severe symptoms.
HPV often doesn’t have symptoms until it’s already become a severe health risk. Some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer. Pap tests are some of the only ways to detect abnormal cells that indicate HPV. Warts are often the most common indicator of HPV, genital, or otherwise.
Many people with Chlamydia don’t have symptoms. However, if you do, the common symptoms that show up are the following:
- Painful urination
- Lower abdominal pain
- Smelly or yellow vaginal discharge
- Bleeding when you’re not having a period
- Pus-like discharge in men
- Bleeding, discharge, or pain around the rectum
The biggest threat that comes from HIV is the risk of it turning into AIDS.
There are three different stages of HIV: The first is an infection, where you have flu-like symptoms. The second is chronic HIV infection, where you may not show any signs at all. The third is AIDS, where it will affect your body’s immune system. Most of the difficulties that come with AIDS are the infections that happen because your immune system is compromised.
Because HIV symptoms can mimic other diseases, the only way to know for sure if you have it is to get tested.
Many people who have Gonorrhea don’t exhibit symptoms. When they do, the symptoms tend to be the following:
- more frequent urination
- pus-like discharge
- genital swelling
- heavier periods
- painful intercourse
- sharp lower abdomen pain
Why is it Important to Get Tested
Because many STDs don’t show symptoms, it’s essential to get tested. Getting tested whenever you have a new sexual partner can help you catch STDs before they become serious. Only 12% of people who are at risk for an STD get tested. That’s a problem because STDs can have serious complications.
If you don’t get tested and don’t know that you have an STD, it can spread to other partners and impact their lives. Untreated STDs also have the potential to make you unable to have children. Even if you can have children, there’s a massive risk of passing it on and endangering their health early in their life.
Untreated STDs also endanger a pregnancy. It can cause complications during your term, put you at risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, as well as premature labor.
Neglecting to get tested for STDs also increases your vulnerability to HIV. Sores and ulcers make you more susceptible to the virus. The inflammatory response of your disease will flood your body with immune cells. Your immune system then becomes more vulnerable and less able to fight against HIV.
How Do You Get Tested?
STD testing is relatively easy. You don’t have to do anything fancy to get checked. Primary care doctors can test it for you.
However, going into a doctor’s office carries some downsides. For one thing, it can still be embarrassing to tell someone else you think you might have an STD. For another thing, insurance doesn’t always cover the cost of getting a test, claiming it’s not a medical necessity. This can result in high prices you weren’t prepared to pay.
There are also at-home testing kits. These are more affordable, and you can do them in the comfort of your own home. Let’s Get Checked provides an at-home STD test that checks for the following diseases.
- HIV (I, II, P24 antigen)
- Herpes Simplex Virus I & II (HSV I & II)
You can use a finger prick or urine test for your results. Best of all, you can use your FSA and HSA cards to pay for the test.
You won’t be alone in your results. There’s a medical team to review your results available 24/7, so you can understand what the implications are.