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Protecting Yourself from STIs

Apr. 10, 2024 10:31 am

With the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on the rise, we want to make sure every person in our Circle of Care has the information they need to live a safe and healthy life. April is STI Awareness Month, so we're breaking down the most effective ways to prevent contracting an STI and the symptoms that require a prompt visit to your OB/GYN.

What are STIs?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections or viruses spread from person to person by intimate physical contact or through sexual intercourse. Common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, genital herpes, and syphilis.

Aside from colds and the flu, STIs are the most common contagious (easily spread) infections in the United States. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that there are millions of new cases each year, so it's important to know the facts when it comes to protecting your body.

How Can I Protect Myself?
The good news is, that there are a lot of different ways you can protect yourself. You can reduce your risk of contracting an STI by:

  • Limiting your number of sexual partners. 
  • Using protection (such as condoms) every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. 
  • Making sure you are up to date on all of your immunizations. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis B as well as some forms of HPV.

Regular screening is also key to catching an STI early if you do contract an infection.

"It's recommended that sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 25 have at least annual gonorrhea and chlamydia screening," says Dr. Valary Gass of Women's Care of Wisconsin.

There are some STIs that can be cured but could cause long term problems like pain and infertility, so early detection is important.

"Additional screening can be offered for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B or C," Dr. Gass says.

What are the Most Common Symptoms of an STI?
Some of the most common STI symptoms to look out for include:

  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Sores, bumps, rashes, or blisters in the genital or anal area
  • Abnormal discharge 
  • Redness or swelling in the genital area
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area
  • Pain, soreness, irritation, or other discomforts during intercourse
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Recurring yeast infections 

If you believe you are at risk for contracting an STI, it is very important to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.

During pregnancy, STIs can also cause harm to the fetus. If you are pregnant and you or your partner have had -- or may have -- an STI, be sure to inform your doctor so you can work out a treatment plan that will decrease the chances of your child getting the infection.

Schedule An Appointment
If you have concerns about STIs or believe you need screening, please talk to your healthcare provider," Dr. Gass says. 

At Women's Care, our providers are devoted to you and your health. That means having the most advanced techniques, up-to-date educational information, and compassionate, caring staff.

To schedule an appointment with one of our providers to discuss STI screening or any other health related topic, please call or text us at 920-729-7105.


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