STI Screening, Treatment and Counseling

We realize it is very difficult to talk about your sexual health, but we urge you to keep yourself healthy by speaking frankly and openly with your doctor about your sex life and your sexual health concerns.

Remember that examination, testing, and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI) are always confidential. We offer testing for sexually transmitted infections during your annual checkup regardless of marital status and sexual preference.

Sexually transmitted infections are very common; but they are often considered a moral issue and are not always handled with a commonsense approach. The resulting discomfort and shame associated with this issue can make some people defy common sense and prevent proper care for themselves and their partner, including practicing safer sex and getting annual sexual-health checkups.

The term STI refers to infections that are transferred from one person to another during sexual contact including oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse; kissing; or mouth to genital (penis, vulva, or vagina) contact. You may also have heard other terms for these infections: sexually transmitted diseases, or their older name, venereal diseases.

Nearly half, of all STIs occur among adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 years. Some -- Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis -- are caused by bacteria. One common STI, trichomoniasis, is caused by a parasite. Because antibiotics kill both bacteria and parasites, these STIs can be cured. Others -- genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) -- are caused by viruses. Because there are no current medications that are able to kill viruses, these STIs can be treated, but not cured.

Sexually transmitted infections can cause symptoms, but it is possible, and even common to have STIs without noticing anything out of the ordinary.

You don’t want to contract any STIs, but here are some that have special concerns for women including Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HPV.

  • Chlamydia: This STI infects the cervix (mouth of the uterus) and the urethra (tube that leads urine out of the bladder when you urinate), but can also live in the throat or rectum. The infection can go up into the lining of the uterus, ovaries, and tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and can lead to chronic pelvic pain, a tubal pregnancy, or infertility (inability to become pregnant). Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics taken by mouth.
  • Gonorrhea: Also a curable bacterial STI, gonorrhea is similar to Chlamydia. It has no symptoms in more than half of the women who have it, and it can cause PID, tubal blockage, and infertility. Up to four out of every 10 women who have gonorrhea also have Chlamydia, so women diagnosed with or suspected of having gonorrhea are usually treated for Chlamydia as well. Gonorrhea is typically treated with an injection (shot) of an antibiotic, plus pills to treat possible Chlamydia.
  • Syphilis: Syphilis is spread by bacteria that get into the bloodstream through breaks in the skin. While it is less common in women than Chlamydia or gonorrhea, it is detrimental to infected pregnant women, who can pass syphilis on to their babies, causing death or serious birth defects. Over many years, untreated syphilis can infect the brain, heart, and other internal organs. Syphilis is curable with penicillin injections.
  • HPV: This STI is caused by a virus and should be of particular concern to women since some strains of the virus cause cervical cancer. Fortunately, Papanicolaou (Pap), smears can detect HPV and abnormal cells that can develop into cancer. There is also a DMA test available to detect signs of HPV. Treatment prevents the abnormal cells from turning into cancerous cells. Women with HPV should have regular Pap smears according to the timetable their health care provider recommends.
Women need to rely on themselves for STI protection. If you choose to have sex with another person, deciding to protect yourself from STIs should be part of the choice.

Visiting our office with your partner before having sex and "getting tested for everything" may help prevent STIs, but you should know this is no guarantee. Some STIs do not even have efficient screening methods, and no test for any infection is 100 percent accurate.

If you have been diagnosed with an STI, you may choose to  read more information from the CDC or Planned Parenthood.