Testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases has proven very effective in decreasing the rates of many infections. But in recent years, the rates of some infections have risen — sometimes dramatically.
Rates of three of the most common STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis — have all increased in recent years. The number of gonorrhea cases alone has increased by 118% since 2009, while the number of syphilis cases rose by almost 27% in just one year, from 2020 to 2021, the latest data available.
That doesn’t mean testing and treatment aren’t effective; it means we need to take testing more seriously and make it part of our regular wellness routines.
As a top-ranked gynecologist and family planning doctor in Phoenix, Arizona, DeShawn Taylor, MD, MSc, FACOG, offers comprehensive STD testing and treatment services for patients at Desert Star Family Planning, helping people stay healthy. In this post, learn why STD testing is important and how you can reduce your risk of infection.
Quick facts about STDs
STDs are very common. About half of all Americans will have an STD at some point during their lifetimes, and every year, another 20 million new cases are reported in the United States.
Many STDs are curable with prompt treatment, typically a course of antibiotics or other medication. Other STDs may not be curable, but their symptoms are manageable — again, with prompt intervention.
STD rates tend to be higher among specific groups of people, including younger people. But it’s important to recognize that anyone who is sexually active can contract an infection, which is why testing and prevention are so critical.
STD testing is simple, and many STDs can be screened with a simple blood test or through urinalysis or a Pap smear. Results are also quick, helping you gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re doing all you can to stay healthy, avoid complications, and prevent spreading infection to someone else.
Why STD testing is so important
Obviously, STD testing plays a very important role in maintaining your own personal health and avoiding serious complications that can develop when STDs aren’t properly treated. But there are other important reasons to have testing, too.
STDs can be hard to spot
Even though the complications of STDs can be severe and life-changing, their initial symptoms can be very subtle. In fact, many STDs don’t cause any noticeable symptoms until they’re in a more advanced stage. That means it’s very easy to delay treatment, even if you don’t mean to.
Regular STD testing helps identify STDs early — even in their earliest stages, before noticeable symptoms appear. Early treatment helps you avoid complications, and your treatment can also be less complex or prolonged.
You can infect others
Nobody wants an STD, and if you have one, you certainly don’t want to pass it on to someone else. But because STDs cause subtle symptoms in their early stages, it’s easy to unwittingly pass an infection to your partner. Regular testing helps you spot infections early to help prevent transmission.
STDs can affect fertility
Without prompt treatment, some STDs can cause fertility problems, especially among women. That includes the three common infections mentioned earlier — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. If you plan on becoming pregnant, regular testing helps avoid infections that could cause issues later.
STDs can be dangerous to a developing pregnancy
If you’re pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant soon, STD testing is even more important. That's because pregnant people can transmit their infection to their babies before birth, resulting in premature birth, stillbirth, or long-term medical problems for your child. The rates of congenital syphilis alone increased by an alarming 477% between 2012 and 2019, and a further 32% between 2020 and 2021.
Stay healthy with confidential STD testing
Regular STD testing is critical for preventing complications associated with STDs, but there are other steps you can take, too. The CDC offers simple preventive strategies you can incorporate into your life to help you and your partner stay healthy.
To learn more about STD testing, prevention, and treatment, call 480-447-8857 or book an appointment online with Dr. Taylor and the team at Desert Star Family Planning today.