More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) are acquired every day worldwide. These infections and diseases (STIs and STDs) are transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. An STI for vagina owners can include symptoms such as vaginal itching, rashes, unusual discharge, and pain.
Many STIs have no symptoms at all, but if left untreated, they can lead to fertility problems and an increased risk of cervical cancer. These risks make it even more important to practice safer sex. Because so many vagina owners don’t show symptoms of having an STI, they may not know they need treatment. This makes it incredibly important for sexually active vagina owners to regularly get tested for common STI’s, even if you do practice safe sex.
The Usual Suspects
The most common STIs in vagina owners, and the ones you should be regularly testing for, include:
With over 100 different strains, HPV is the most common STI infecting people the world over. Certain strains of HPV are also the main cause of cervical cancer. Fortunately a vaccine is available to indivisuals up to 45 years of age, that can help prevent certain strains of HPV.
While HPV is a viral STI, gonorrhoea and chlamydia are the common bacterial STIs. In fact, chlamydia is also known as The Reykjavík Handshake, since it is so commonly diagnosed in Iceland, which has the highest chlamydia infection rate in the world.
Some gynaecologists will automatically check for both during normal checkups, so it is worth checking with yours. If you think that you may be at risk, go for medical screening sooner rather than later, as these are both treatable conditions.
Genital herpes is also common, with about 1 out of 6 Americans between the ages 14 and 49 years having it.
Common symptoms of STIs
Women should be aware of possible STI symptoms so that they can seek medical advice if necessary. Some of the most common symptoms are described below.
Changes in urination. An STI can be indicated by pain or a burning sensation during urination, the need to pee more frequently, or the presence of blood in the urine.
Abnormal vaginal discharge. The look and consistency of vaginal discharge changes continually through a woman’s cycle or even in the absence of a cycle. Thick, white discharge can be a sign of a yeast infection. When discharge is yellow or green, it might indicate gonorrhoea or trichomoniasis.
Itching in the vaginal area. Itching is a nonspecific symptom that may or may not be related to an STI, but should be paid attention to all the same. Sex-related causes for vaginal itching can include allergic reactions to latex condoms, yeast infections, public lice, scabies, genital warts, and the early phases of both viral and bacterials STI’s
Pain during sex. This symptom is often overlooked, but abdominal or pelvic pain can be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is most commonly caused by the advanced stage of chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
Abnormal bleeding. Abnormal bleeding is another possible sign of PID or other reproductive problems cause by an STI.
Rashes or sores. Sores or tiny pimples around the mouth or vagina can indicate herpes, HPV, or syphilis.
Everyone should take certain preventive measures to avoid acquiring or transmitting STI’s.
Get tested regularly
Vagina owners should get a Pap smear every 3 to 5 years. It’s also important to ask if you should be tested for any other STI’s and whether the HPV vaccination is suggested. You should also talk to your regular doctor about getting tested for STI’s on a regular basis if you are sexually active. Ideally before or after each new sexual partner.
Whether it’s for vaginal, anal, or oral sex, a condom or other barrier method can help protect both you and your partner. Female condoms and dental dams can provide a certain level of protection.
Spermicides, the birth control pill, and other forms of contraception may protect against pregnancy, but they don’t protect against STIs.
You’ve been diagnosed. Now what?
Here are a few things you should do after being diagnosed with an STI:
- Start any treatment your doctor prescribes for you immediately.
- Contact your partner(s) and let them know that they need to get tested and treated, too.
- Abstain from sex until the condition is either cured or until your doctor gives approval. In the case of bacterial conditions, you should wait until the medications have cured you and your partner.
- For viral conditions, wait long enough for your partner to be on antiviral medications, if necessary, to reduce the risk of transmitting the condition to them. Your doctor will be able to give you the correct time frame.