April 6th, 2011 | Published in STD News
STDs in women are a major cause of chronic health issues in females. Though some common STDs can be treated and cured if caught early on, undiagnosed STDs in women have the potential to cause irreversible damage for those infected. According to the U.S. CDC, women are more likely than men to contract certain STDs due to their anatomy, including Chlamydia, genital herpes, and HPV. For this reason, annual testing is strongly encouraged to halt the spread of STDs in women.
Chlamydia in Women
Chlamydia is the country’s most prevalent STD. In 2008, over 1.2 million new cases of Chlamydia infection were reported, the majority of which affected females. Some common signs of Chlamydia in women can include abnormal white or yellow vaginal discharge, pain during urination, and overall genital pain. Bleeding in between menstrual periods has also been noted as one of the signs of Chlamydia in women.
Though some affected females will notice symptoms within two to four weeks following exposure, an overwhelming 75 percent of those infected will never experience symptoms. For this reason, Chlamydia is considered one of the most dangerous STDs in women. Though the disease is easily curable, when left undetected, Chlamydia can result in chronic pelvic pain, permanent reproductive damage, infertility, and potentially deadly ectopic pregnancies. Unfortunately, many infected women won’t experience initial symptoms and will therefore neglect to get tested until long-term effects have set in. To prevent this, the CDC recommends annual Chlamydia testing.
Common misspellings for chlamydia include klamydia, clamidia, chlamidia, and klamidia.
HPV Virus in women
Though both males and females are at risk for contracting the HPV virus, in women, it can actually be deadly. Certain strains of HPV have been linked to cervical cancer, which is a severe health concern in women. HPV can cause genital warts in some strains but most HPV strains do not produce noticeable symptoms, regular testing is crucial for women at risk. The CDC recommends screening once a year at a minimum, usually in conjunction with an annual gynecological exam. However, an FDA-approved vaccine can prevent against the four strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer and genital warts.
Genital Herpes in Women
The CDC reports that women are almost twice as likely to contract genital herpes as men, making it one of the most widespread STDs in women. One in five sexually active women is positive for genital herpes. While some infected women will experience symptoms such as severely painful genital sores and vaginal discomfort within the first few weeks following infection, others may never display signs of genital herpes at all. Some may experience symptoms so mild they are mistaken for benign conditions such as shaving irritation, a skin rash, or a yeast infection.
Though herpes itself isn’t known to be fatal, its presence does put those infected at risk for additional STDs in women, including HIV. Additionally, since herpes can’t be cured and may be transmitted to a newborn during childbirth, the disease is considered to be one of the most problematic STDs in women.
Understanding STDs in Women
On a whole, sexually active women are more likely to contract STDs than men, and the reason has to do with basic female anatomy. Compared to males, the female genital region provides a more conducive environment to harbor STD-causing bacteria. STDs in women are a particular concern for females under 25 since their cervixes are less developed and therefore more susceptible to infection and long-term damage.
Protecting Women from STDs
To address the problem of STDs in women, the CDC recommends annual screenings and safe sexual practices. Certain STDs in women, including Chlamydia, can be cured, while others can be managed to minimize long-term damage. The key is to become aware of infection before permanent consequences set in.