Common STDs and Treatment Options

Common STDs and Treatment Options

If you’re sexually active, you should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as a routine part of your yearly wellness exam

It’s critical to talk to your OB/GYN about STD testing and what they recommend based on your age, number of partners, and other factors.   

Dr. Peter Khamvongsa and his team at the Miami Institute for Women’s Health offer expert guidance on STD testing. Our patients consistently express that they’re relieved that we provide screening as part of the comprehensive care we deliver. 

Why get tested for STDs?

Many frequently diagnosed STDs have no symptoms, so annual testing is critical. And although many STDs are curable, not all of them are. 

We’re here to help you take charge of your sexual health and protect you and your partner(s).

Which STDs am I tested for at my wellness exam?

Dr. Khamvongsa tests you for the following STDs during your appointment:

1. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most frequently diagnosed STD in the United States. You may experience discomfort when urinating or have a vaginal discharge, but 75% of women show no symptoms. Screening involves testing your urine or having a cervical discharge sample taken with a swab.

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection, so antibiotics are the appropriate treatment.

2. Gonorrhea

This is also a bacterial infection, and typically, you’re struck with gonorrhea if you have chlamydia. The symptoms mimic those of chlamydia, too. Although only around one-fifth of women show symptoms, they’re common in men. 

Antibiotics can clear you of gonorrhea, too.

3. Syphilis

Syphilis is scary because even though symptoms can include a rash or sores on your vagina, on your anus, or in your mouth, there’s a stage of the disease where you’re asymptomatic. You may remain that way forever, or you might develop nerve and organ damage, as well as brain problems. 

Early treatment is key, and again, antibiotics treat syphilis. Early treatment clears up syphilis quickly. 

4. Trichomoniasis

A parasitic disease, trichomoniasis affects women more frequently than men. Genital itching and pain or burning are the primary symptoms, along with clear, yellowish or greenish discharge that has an odor. However, only about a third of sufferers experience noticeable symptoms. 

When tested for trichomoniasis, your doctor swabs your vagina to get a fluid sample for examination under a microscope. If parasites are present, you’re treated with antibiotics, and it’s recommended you get retested after three months. 

5. Herpes 

There are two strains of the herpes virus — HSV-1 and HSV-2, but usually it’s HSV-2 that’s to blame. The classic symptom is painful vaginal or anal blisters. Sometimes blisters emerge inside your vagina or anus that you can’t feel, though. To make matters more confusing, some people don’t get blisters. 

Testing is done in several ways: by testing your blood, by doing a viral culture after scraping a cell sample from a sore, or through a PCR test, which detects the virus’s DNA found in your blood, spinal fluid, or fluid from a sore. Unfortunately, you’re contagious whether you have blisters or not. 

There’s no cure for herpes because it’s a virus, but antiviral medications can make it less likely you’ll pass herpes on to your partner. They can also lower the chances that you’ll have an outbreak, lessen its severity if you do, and hasten blister healing.  

6. Human papillomavirus (HPV)

There are over 100 types of HPV, but two in particular raise your cervical cancer risk. Since the virus is extremely common in those under 30 and typically clears up on its own, testing is recommended for women over 30. 

The concerning cervical changes that HPV causes can take up to a decade or longer to develop, so this is the “why” of the age factor around the testing recommendation. 

Your doctor tests you for HPV by gently taking a sample of cervical cells with a small brush or spatula while you recline on an exam table with your feet in stirrups. The procedure is similar to a pap smear. 

HPV is prevented by getting the HPV vaccine, but since this is a virus, there isn’t a cure if you’re diagnosed. Treatment consists of close monitoring with pap tests and possibly colposcopy, a procedure that enables your doctor to take a close look at your cervix. Any changes your doctor observes over time will determine treatment. 

7. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

HIV attacks your immune system. As a virus, it’s not curable, but it’s treatable. There are several testing methods, most of which use blood samples. 

Antiretroviral treatment regimens lower the viral load in your blood, and it’s important to start treating HIV as soon as possible. 

Call the Miami Institute for Women’s Health at 786-220-8664 to make your wellness appointment, or reach out to us through our website

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