While some STDs do produce symptoms, many people with an STD have no symptoms at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), many youth in the age range of 15-24 do not know they are infected because they do not have any symptoms.
There are two types of infections—bacterial and viral. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. In this case, antibiotics treat the disease, but they cannot reverse damage already caused before the medication was taken. Viral infections, on the other hand, cannot be treated by antibiotics. In the case of viral infections, only the symptoms can be treated. Some viral infections may clear up on their own, just like the common cold, but many other viral infections remain permanently in the body, like HIV.1
Some of the risks associated with STDs include infertility, cancer, HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and increased vulnerability to developing other STDs. Also, many STDs can be passed from mother to child. Getting tested and reducing risk behaviors are critical steps in preventing the spread of STDs. While condoms provide some degree of risk reduction from certain STDs, they do not protect against all STDs, especially those passed by skin to skin contact2.
So how can you really know whether or not you have an STD? Whether you have symptoms or not, if you are sexually active, you may be at risk. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.
The Pregnancy Clinic offers free testing for syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, herpes lesions, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis & yeast. Call today for an appointment at 301-262-1330.
1 Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm Accessed August 4, 2013.
2. Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention [Workshop June 2000], Summary report of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH. DHHS. July 20, 2001.