What’s your risk of getting a Sexually Transmitted Disease, or STD? How do you know if you or your partner has one? Should you get tested? At Legacy, you can schedule a confidential appointment for a free STD test and information to help you make healthy choices about sex.
What are STDs?
STDs, or Sexually Transmitted Diseases (also known as STIs—Sexually Transmitted Infections) are bacterial or viral infections transmitted through bodily fluids — such as semen, vaginal discharge, or blood – or skin-to-skin contact during sexual encounters. These bacteria and viruses live and reproduce near and in the genitals, anus, mouth, and throat because those are warm and moist areas of the body.
The infection (STI) refers to the presence of the viruses or bacteria in the body, while the term “disease” (STD) indicates the damaged cells and symptoms that arise due to the infection.
How Common are They?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 1 million new cases of STDs every day(1). Unfortunately, the risks associated with STDs are often not addressed and STDs are becoming increasingly common every year. According to the CDC, an estimated one out of every five people in the United States had an STD on any given day in 2018(2). This was a record high and there is no indication that this trend is reversing!
Are they dangerous?
STDs are acknowledged as a “significant public health problem in the United States”(3). These STDs may cause serious and sometimes irreversible health complications. They may lead to problems with reproductive health, fetal and perinatal health and even cancer. For these reasons, it is very important that pregnant women be tested for STDs. Treatment may completely heal some STDs but may only lessen symptoms for others.
What are the most common STDs?
Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, and Trichomoniasis are some of the most common STIs.
What’s My Risk of getting a STD/STI?
The risk of contracting an STD rises exponentially with the number of your sexual partners. If you had sex with five people, each of whom have also had sex with five people, your exposure risk is the same as having slept with 31 people! On the other hand, risk can be eliminated by practicing sexual abstinence and marrying a partner not infected with an STD. In addition to eliminating the risk for getting an STD, studies have indicated that people who wait until marriage to become sexually active are more likely to have greater self-esteem, a higher standard of living and a happier marriage(4)!
How do I know if I have an STI/STD? Should I get tested?
If you’ve had sex, you need testing. Even condoms don’t protect from all STIs.(5)
Most STIs have no symptoms or only mild symptoms at first. While various symptoms (sores, discharge, itching, pain, difficulty urinating) are associated with different STIs, the only way to know for sure is to get tested. Legacy Pregnancy Center tests for common STIs that negatively impact pregnancy. Schedule your free pregnancy & STI test and know for sure.
(1) World Health Organization (2019). More than 1 million new curable sexually transmitted infections every day. https://www.who.int/news/item/06-06-2019-more-than-1-million-new-curable-sexually-transmitted-infections-every-day.
(2) Centers for Disease Control (2020). Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are very common and costly to the nation’s health and economy. https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/prevalence-2020-at-a-glance.htm.
(3) Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (Oct 08 2020). Sexually Transmitted Diseases. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/sexually-transmitted-diseases.
(4) How Many People Have You Really Been Exposed To?, 2017, Abstinence Clearinghouse.
(5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Condom Effectiveness. https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/brief.html.