The Center for Disease Control recently released their national overview on sexually transmitted diseases for 2016. The findings show that STD testing is more important than ever as rates of infection continue to increase.
In 2016, the rate of Chlamydia infections increased 4.7%, with a total of 1,589,354 cases reported in the U.S. Rates of Chlamydia are the highest in adolescent and young adult women
The rate of gonorrhea infections increased 18.5%, and rates of infection have continued to steadily increase from 2014-2016. Rates of gonorrhea in 2015-2016 increased 22.2% among men and 13.8% among women.
The rate of syphilis infections increased 17.6%. Syphilis infections have increased steadily since 2001, and in 2015-2016, rates of infection increased among both men and women, with a 14.7% increase among men and an alarming 35.7% among women.
The rate of congenital syphilis, meaning the infection passed on during a live birth, increased 27.6% in 2015-2016.
Women and STDs
Women, and their infants, are particularly vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections. Women are affected more by Chlamydia and gonorrhea, partially because early infections may be without symptoms. However, if left untreated, these infections can spread throughout the reproductive system, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
PID can lead to serious inflammation and damage to the fallopian tubes, which can then increase a woman’s chances of infertility and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy located somewhere other than the womb). The most common cause of infertility in women is tubal factor infertility, and it is often linked to PID.
Pregnant women with STDs may not experience symptoms from their infections, either, but the results can be very serious. Untreated STDs during a pregnancy can lead to stillbirth, premature delivery, premature rupture of the membranes, and low birth weight. The infect can also be passed along to the infant during delivery, leading to conjunctivitis infections and pneumonia.
Syphilis especially is linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Untreated syphilis during pregnancy can lead to fetal death, preterm birth, and congenital infection (meaning the syphilis infection is passed along to the infant). The majority of cases of congenital syphilis are preventable, if the mother is screened and treated during her prenatal care.
Herpes, accompanied by genital infections, are very common and can have very serious consequences for pregnant women and their infants. Herpes passed along to an infant can be extremely severe, resulting in pulmonary disease, seizures, fever, and fatality if the infant comes into contact with the infections during delivery. Risk of transmission to the infant is greater if the mother gets the infection towards the end of her pregnancy.
There are several factors that can place you at higher risk for contracting an STD. They include:
- Unprotected sex
- Multiple sexual partners – the more partners you have, the more likely you are to be exposed to an STD.
- Being under the age of 25 – young women especially are more susceptible to STD infection because their cervixes are not fully developed, leading to an increased risk of infection by gonorrhea, Chlamydia and other STDs.
- Drug or alcohol use – this can impair judgement, leading to more risk taking.
- Living in a community with a higher STD rate – the higher the STD rate, the more likely you are to be exposed.
- Having a previous STD – having one STD can make your body more susceptible to contracting another.
If you have any of the above risk factors, and have not been tested recently, schedule an appointment with Options for Women today. We provide FREE, limited STD testing for patients of all ages. If you believe you may be pregnant, and may be at risk for an STD, it is especially important to schedule an appointment as soon as possible, no matter what your intention may be for the pregnancy. Any STD should be treated before continuing a pregnancy or having an abortion to avoid further risk of damage to your reproductive health. Call Options for Women at 863-393-6988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your appointment today.