Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise for the fifth straight year and quite preventable. A STI, formerly known as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection passed from one person to another through sexual contact like vaginal, oral or anal sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an alarming rise in cases of syphilis, the highest since 1991. There is no room for stigma or shame when a person understands the consequences of not being treated.
Women with STIs often have more serious resulting-health programs than do men with STIs, including infertility. Chlamydia and gonorrhea left untreated can raise the risk of life-threatening ectopic pregnancy or be passed on to the baby during vaginal delivery. Chlamydia can cause serious newborn problems such as pneumonia and even blindness if it gets into the baby’s eyes. Women can also pass STI infections to their baby while breastfeeding. A woman infected with syphilis may suffer a miscarriage, stillbirth or pass the infections on to her baby. Trichomoniasis can cause premature delivery. On rare occasions, a mother can pass a trichomoniasis infection to the baby during vaginal delivery. It can also cause infertility in both men and women.
The best prevention against STIs is to not have vaginal, oral or anal sex. If you are sexually active, it is important to get tested for STIs, especially after each new partner. Testing can include pelvic exams as well as blood, urine fluid and tissue sample testing. You can lower your risk by getting vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B and using condoms. Be monogamous, or limit your number of sexual partners and do not abuse alcohol or drugs, which can lead to risky behavior and possible STI exposure. Gaining knowledge about STIs will both lower the risk and help prevent them. We are our own best advocates for personal health as well as the health of our unborn infants and children. Be protected, and get tested! You may get tested at a lab, or many community clinics have STI testing free of charge.
Please follow-up with your healthcare provider to discuss safe sex practices. If you need help making an appointment, call Lovelace Care Concierge at 505.727.2727.
This blog was submitted by Darlene Lundquist, RN with the ED Support Program and Lovelace Labor of Love. Edits made by Catherine Roth, Certified Community Health Worker with Lovelace Labor of Love.