By Connie Masak

Did you know that April is STI Awareness Month? Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted diseases, are the most common infections in the United States.

While each STI has different symptoms, the most common signs of an STI are pain in the pelvic area, painful urination, and pain during sexual intercourse, itching, sores and discolored discharge.  While these symptoms may occur it is common not to experience symptoms at all, especially with chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Infections caused by bacteria i.e. chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomonas, are treated with antibiotics. Both partners must be treated in order for treatment to be effective. Infections caused by viruses, such as HPV, genital warts, genital herpes and HIV can be controlled and symptoms managed.

Unfortunately, women can still get STI’s even if they are pregnant and some STI’s can be passed to your baby. STI screening will start early in the pregnancy because most STI-related problems can be prevented by receiving regular medical care throughout the pregnancy. Bacterial STI’s can be treated during pregnancy. Viral STI’s may be able to be treated with preventative measures to reduce the risk of passing the infection to your baby.

Here are a few ways to prevent STI’s.

  • Abstinence
  • Prior to sexual activity, have a conversation with your partner regarding sexual history and get tested
  • Use condoms every time you have sex
  • Get vaccinated. Currently, vaccines are available for HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B

If you think you may have an STI or want to receive a vaccination, don’t be embarrassed to place a confidential call to your provider to discuss this. It is best to get treatment early and abstain from sexual activity until you have talked with your Women’s Health Specialist provider. Call (920) 749-400 to schedule your appointment today.