Sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs or STIs) are a group of infectious conditions that are transmitted from person to person primarily through sexual contact. This group of diseases can range from benign to life threatening and from curable to lifelong illness. For patients with specific symptoms, consultation with a physician is recommended to discuss diagnosis and treatment for these conditions. For those without symptoms, screening is recommended in certain circumstances, but available to all who desire testing.
WHO IS AT RISK?
People at risk for STDs are those who are sexually active. Particular risk factors for contracting an STD are: those aged 15-24, sex worker exposure, drug use, being unmarried, African Americans, multiple sex partners, and having an STD previously. While these are risk factors, anyone who is sexually active is at risk. If you have ever had an STD, you should be rescreened 3 months later, as about a quarter of people will become re-infected.
STD TESTING AND TREATMENT SYMPTOMS
Symptoms of STDs vary, and many STDs will not have any symptoms at all in most patients. Chlamydia will often cause discharge and pain in the genital region, but can have no symptoms at all. Gonorrhea usually causes discharge, pain, and swelling of the testicles in men and abdominal pain in women and can also occur without symptoms. Genital Herpes causes painful ulcers in the genitals and is very common but very often has no symptoms at all. Syphilis is less common but also causes sores, though they are not painful; it rarely occurs without symptoms. HIV can cause a flu-like illness a few weeks after becoming infected, but then has no symptoms at all for several years, a time when you can infect sexual partners. There are other more rare STDs, which your doctor can help diagnose and treat.
DIAGNOSIS AND STD TESTING AND TREATMENT TREATMENT
STDs used to require pelvic exams in women and urethral (penile) swabs in men to effectively diagnose all of them. New testing has been developed that allows urine samples and simple blood test to diagnose the vast majority of STDs. To be screened for STDs, you can have only the most common such as chlamydia and gonorrhea (urine tests only), or be screened for all of the common STDs including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and genital herpes. Your doctor can help you decide which to test for. Once diagnosed you should repeat testing any time you encounter a new sexual partner, or if your risk factors mentioned above change. If you are diagnosed with an STD, your partners should be tested and treated as well. Treatment for each STD is individualized, and your doctor can prescribe the appropriate treatment.
HOW PLUSHCARE WORKS
1. Order individual STD tests or get a comprehensive panel, without having to talk to a doctor.
2. Drop off a blood or urine sample at a lab and get your results online in a few days.
3. If needed, consult with a PlushCare doctor for further advice or any needed treatment.