Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) affect sexually active people of every age, gender, and background. Many STIs don’t cause noticeable symptoms. Most can be easily treated by a medical professional if caught early. The gynecology specialists on Long Island at The Woman’s Health Pavilion provide accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of STIs. With regular care, we can help you protect yourself from becoming infected in the first place.
You deserve convenient, high-quality care. The Woman’s Health Pavilion has multiple office locations in Queens and on Long Island that are open evenings and weekends. To see a gynecologist or advanced clinical practitioner, request an appointment using our online form or call the office nearest you. We offer same-day appointments for urgent conditions.
What is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?
An STI, formerly known as “venereal disease” (VD), is an infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that is passed from one person to another through sexual contact. While STIs are commonly referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), it’s important to understand that not all STIs develop into disease; we call these infections STIs to emphasize that not all people who are infected develop symptoms.
Are STIs Only Passed Through Intercourse?
No. While STIs are commonly passed through vaginal intercourse, they may also be passed through oral sex, anal sex, and even skin-to-skin contact. Many may be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, blood, and saliva.
Many common STIs do not create symptoms, but can easily be
treated when caught early.
Use condoms EVERY time you have sex.
If you have unprotected sex, you should be tested for STIs.
Here are some of the most common STIs/STDs. Certain STDs cannot be cured, but today most can be managed by medication or close surveillance.
- Trichomoniasis, sometimes called “trich,” may not cause symptoms in infected women and men. Symptoms in women may include excessive discolored vaginal discharge, strong vaginal odor, painful sex, and irritation of the genitals. Trichomonal infection is easily treated with antibiotics. If one partner is diagnosed with trichomoniasis, both partners should be treated.
- Human papilloma virus (HPV) usually causes no symptoms, but some strains can cause genital warts. Infection with HPV causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer; HPV has also been implicated in cancer of the throat, penis, and anus. HPV is extremely common, but the vast majority of people infected with HPV will NOT develop cancer, because their immune system suppresses the virus. HPV vaccines are available to people age 9 to 26 to protect against certain types of HPV; the vaccine however, only protects against certain strains of the virus, and it does not treat HPV infections that are already present. Most patients will be routinely screened for HPV at the time of their Pap smear. Learn more about HPV.
- Herpes infection causes outbreaks of painful sores on the genitals or mouth. After initial exposure to the herpes virus, the first outbreak is usually the most severe, and may involve symptoms such as fever, swollen glands, and fatigue. After initial infection, the virus stays dormant in the body, and can reactivate even years later, causing additional outbreaks. While there is currently no cure for herpes, prescription medications can be used to prevent outbreaks and minimize symptoms when they occur.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that infects cells of your immune system. Initial exposure may cause a flu-like syndrome. After initial infection, the virus can lay dormant for many years with no symptoms. Over time, infection with HIV can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Individuals with AIDS are “immunocompromised,” or vulnerable to infections which a normally-functioning immune system could easily fight off. AIDS is a potentially life-threatening condition. There is no cure for HIV, but with modern medication regimens, most cases of HIV can be managed over a lifetime.
- Chlamydia is a common bacterial infection that often doesn’t cause any symptoms. When diagnosed early, it is easily treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, chlamydia can result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), chronic pelvic pain, and infertility. Women who have had chlamydial infections are also at higher risk of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the fallopian tubes). Our office routinely screens for chlamydia in women who are at risk for infection.
- Hepatitis B is a virus that can cause liver disease. While hepatitis A and hepatitis C are also common types of hepatitis, hepatitis B is the one most commonly transmitted through sexual activity. Vaccination can protect you from acquiring hepatitis B, but there is no cure once you contract the disease.
- Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can damage the brain and nervous system, if untreated. With early diagnosis, it is easily treated with antibiotics. A common early symptom is one or more small, firm, painless sores on or near the genitals or anus.
- Gonorrhea is a bacterial STI which can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), chronic pelvic pain, and infertility; infection in pregnancy can also be passed to infants during childbirth. Many women with gonorrhea infections have no symptoms, but infection can cause vaginal discharge or pain. Screening is recommended for women who are at risk of gonorrhea.
If you test positive for any STI, it’s important to inform all sexual partners you’ve been with in the past 60 days so they can get tested and treated.
How Do I Get Tested for STIs/STDs?
Whether you have symptoms or not, it’s important to get tested if you have had unprotected sex with a new partner; you should also be tested if your partner has a known STI, or if they haven’t been tested recently. You can come into any of our offices for testing, and you won’t need to worry about being judged. Our caring, supportive staff is only concerned about your health. Depending on risk factors, most sexually active women who visit our office can expect to be screened for STIs.
How Can I Prevent STIs/STDs?
While abstinence is the most effective way to avoid STIs, using latex condoms properly and consistently offers protection against many STIs. You should be aware, however, that condoms don’t fully protect against certain STIs that may be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes and HPV.
May We Help You?
Would you like to find out more about our treatments and services? Are you looking for a second opinion on a diagnosis or treatment recommendation you received at another practice? The experienced team at The Woman’s Health Pavilion is happy to help. Just let us know how and when you’d like to hear from us.