Unplanned pregnancy is a leading reason young women do not complete their college educations. More unplanned pregnancies occur when women are in their 20s than in their teens. If you have any questions regarding pregnancy, schedule an appointment at the Wellness Center.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases are very common and 15-24 year olds account for half of all new infections. Protect yourself from these preventable diseases and if you have any questions or concerns make an appointment at the Wellness Center. Testing and treatment are available. All STDs can be treated and many are curable.
Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics, but if left untreated it can have serious consequences for a woman’s fertility and may make it more difficult to have a baby in the future. The bacteria are spread through sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral sex). Frequently chlamydia does not have any symptoms. Symptoms for women may include vaginal discharge and burning when you urinate. Men may experience discharge from the penis, pain in one or both testicles, and burning with urination. If contracted rectally, chlamydia may cause rectal pain, and bleeding or discharge from the anus. More information is available on the CDC’s website.
Gonorrohea can be cured with antibiotics. It is becoming harder to treat, so it is important if you are prescribed medication to take it exactly as it is prescribed. If it remains untreated, it can cause fertility problems for both men and women. Gonorrhea is spread through sexual intercourse and infects the genitals, rectum and throat. Men and women with gonorrhea may not have any signs or symptoms. Men may experience burning with urination, white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis, and painful or swollen testicles. Symptoms for women include painful urination, vaginal discharge and spotting between periods. If contracted rectally, it can cause painful bowel movements, anal discharge, anal itching and soreness. For more information, go to the CDC’s website.
Genital herpes is a viral infection that cannot be cured, but symptoms can be treated with medication. Infection with a herpes virus is typically not dangerous to your physical health, but can have consequences for mental health due to the stigma associated with the disease. The Wellness Center can provide medical and psychological care. About 1 in 6 people ages 14 to 49 have genital herpes. The virus is spread through sexual intercourse. Most people with a herpes infection do not have any symptoms, but can have an outbreak of small blisters that turn into sores. The virus can be spread even if an outbreak is not present. For more information from the CDC, go here.
Many people do not realize that some hepatitis viruses can be spread through sexual activity and may only think that people that use IV drugs can get hepatitis. Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Both viruses can cause flu-like symptoms with initial infection, but may not cause any symptoms at all. Some people will recover without treatment, but the infection will persist in some. Long-term infection can lead to liver failure or liver cancer. Hepatitis B is now routinely vaccinated against in the U.S., but if you were born before 1991 or outside the U.S. you may not be protected. The Wellness Center can verify if you have been vaccinated. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, but there is effective treatment available. Check out the CDC's website for more information about viral hepatitis.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a viral infection that can be well controlled with medication. Although HIV is no longer the death sentence it used to be, it is still a lifelong infection that can have serious physical and mental health consequences. HIV is spread through IV drug use and sexual intercourse. It is most transmittable through anal and vaginal intercourse. While the risk is much lower with oral sex, transmission can still occur. Initial infection may cause flu-like symptoms and then symptoms are not experienced again until the infection has progressed to AIDS. Symptoms of AIDS are related to the negative effects the virus has on the immune system and may include weight loss, recurring fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and more. To learn more, check out AIDS.gov.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. There is no cure for HPV, but most infections resolve on their own. There are many different strains of HPV and most do not cause any symptoms. Some may cause genital warts that are not dangerous but may be distressing. Some strains can lead to serious health problems such as cervical cancer and other genitourinary and anal cancers. Vaccination against the cancer-causing strains of HPV is now recommended for all young people starting at age 11. This recommendation is new and many young people are not yet vaccinated. The vaccine can be given up until age 26. Schedule an appointment at the Wellness Center to find out more or check out the CDC’s website.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is not one sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it is a condition that affects women if they have an untreated STI. Common STIs that can cause PID are chlamydia and gonorrhea. PID can be treated with antibiotics and, if caught early, there might not be any long-term effects of the disease. Untreated PID can cause infertility and chronic abdominal pain. Early symptoms to watch for include pain in the lower abdomen, vaginal discharge, spotting, pain or bleeding with vaginal intercourse. Find out more about PID here.
Syphilis is a bacterial STI that can be cured with antibiotics. The infection is spread through all forms of sexual intercourse. The initial infection can cause small painless sores that are frequently confused with an ingrown hair or pimple. If the initial infection is not caught or treated it can progress to secondary syphilis. During this second stage, a non-itchy rash can occur over the whole body including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. If not treated the disease can progress to late-stage syphilis. This can occur years after the initial infection and cause serious neurological effects including poor coordination, paralysis, blindness and dementia. Learn more about syphilis here.
Trichomoniasis (often called “trich”) is an infection caused by a parasite and can be treated with antibiotics. Trich is spread through vaginal intercourse. Most men and women do not experience any symptoms. If symptoms occur for women, they can include discomfort with urination, thin vaginal discharge, or itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals. Men may experience discomfort with urination or ejaculation, discharge from the penis, or itching or irritation inside the penis. Trichomoniasis is not dangerous itself, but it can increase your risk of contracting other STIs. Find out more about trichomoniasis from the CDC.