An affiliate of Hera Women's Health

The Risks of Untreated STDs

If you’re sexually active by participating in any kind of sexual activity involving your genitals or a partner’s genitals, you could contract a sexually transmitted disease. When diagnosed, STDs are usually treatable or manageable, but not every STD initially causes symptoms.

To catch and treat asymptomatic STDs early, our experienced OB/GYN and nurse practitioner providers at Women's Health Associates of Southern Nevada, Northwest offer STD testing and management to anyone sexually active. Here are the risks you face if an STD goes undiagnosed and untreated.

What is an STD?

STDs are infections spread between partners through genital sexual activity such as vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, or oral sex. STDs you might have heard of include gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, syphilis, HPV, and HIV.

What are the risks of untreated STDs?

Without treatment, STDs can cause serious complications to you and any current or future sexual partners. The following are examples of problems you might develop when you don’t get medical care for STDs.

Infertility

Several STDs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, can cause infertility in women and men. They can cause a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, which sometimes causes infertility by scarring your fallopian tubes, and can cause an epididymal obstruction in men that blocks sperm during ejaculation.

Pregnancy complications

In women, STDs can cause complications with pregnancy. Your odds of having an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, and going into premature labor all increase.

Additionally, you can transmit some STDs on to your baby in utero or during birth, causing potentially severe or deadly complications. STDs you can pass on include genital herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV.

Increased risk of organ damage, disease, and cancer

Untreated STDs can grow unchecked for years in your body and cause potentially serious or deadly diseases to develop. For example, someone with HPV can get cervical or anal cancer, while syphilis can cause blindness, dementia, and heart or kidney damage.

Passing STDs to your partner

Without proper treatment or management of your STD, it’s possible to unknowingly pass it on to your sexual partners. The risk of transmission remains even if you always practice safer sex.

Getting additional STDs

The active immune response caused by an unmanaged, untreated STD increases your risk of getting another STD during sexual contact. For example, having open sores in your genital area from an STD might increase your risk of contracting HIV.

How do I know if I have an STD?

Since some STDs are asymptomatic at first, the only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested if you’re sexually active. Get tested any time you have a new sexual partner, if you haven’t been tested for a long period of time and have had multiple partners, or if you’ve never been tested before.

It’s also important to make an appointment for an STD screening if you experience potential STD symptoms. Symptoms can include a fever, bumps or sores in your genital area, a feeling of burning when you urinate, vaginal discharge, and other general feelings of unwellness similar to having the flu.

Our practitioners at WHASN - NW, headed by Anita Gondy, MD, Saovaros Michaels, MD, and Henry Luh, DO, provide comprehensive STD and HIV testing, which includes a physical examination, blood test, and urinalysis. If our doctors diagnose you with an STD, they’ll support you through treatment and management of your specific STD, as well as counseling on future STD prevention.

If you’d like to get STD testing or are wondering if an STD test is right for you, call our office at 702-342-0208 with any questions and to make an appointment.

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