If you’ve noticed sores in your vaginal or vulvar area, or changes in your vaginal discharge, you might be tempted to dismiss them as being related to chafing or a simple yeast infection. But if you’re sexually active, or have been in the last several years, a new symptom could be a sign of a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville offers private, discreet STD testing at both of our offices in Jacksonville, Florida. Caring, compassionate OB/GYNs Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, and our staff put you at ease so that you get the diagnosis and the treatment that you need.
Women are more susceptible to STDs
As a woman, certain features of your reproductive anatomy increase the risk for contracting an STD. Vaginal skin is thin, so pathogens can easily penetrate and cause an infection. The moist, warm environment in the vagina also makes it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.
Because most of your reproductive organs are internal, you might not notice symptoms of an STD until it has already progressed. You also may be likely to dismiss symptoms because you’re used to dealing with regular changes in your vaginal discharge and comfort level because of menstruation.
Pay attention to changes
Even though change is the norm for a woman, if you notice anything new or uncomfortable, it’s best to call your OB/GYN or schedule an appointment for an STD test. Some changes related to your sexual organs that could be a sign of an STD include:
- Burning when you urinate
- Itchy vulvar or anal area
- Small sores, bumps, or blisters
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Yellow or discolored discharge
- Pain or bleeding during intercourse
- Dark urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Painful urination
A few STDs create systemic changes that you might dismiss as a flu or cold, including:
- Weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle or joint pain
- Yellow skin
When you have symptoms or discomfort that persists for more than a few days, contact your doctor. If you think you may have symptoms of an STD, your Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville OB/GYN administers tests to diagnose and treat you, or give you the all-clear.
Treating an STD
Some STDs, such as syphilis and gonorrhea, are cured with a course of antibiotics. However, others, including herpes, can’t be cured. Your doctor may recommend medications to minimize the number of outbreaks.
Catching an STD in its earliest stage gives you the best chance of a cure and of avoiding complications, including infertility. That’s why it’s important to get tested as soon as you notice new or unusual symptoms.
If you’re between ages 9 and 45 years old, you might also be able to prevent a human papilloma virus (HPV) infection with a vaccine. Because HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer, a vaccine reduces your risk for that potentially deadly disease.
Annual exams keep you safe
If you’re sexually active, you could have an STD, even if you don’t have any symptoms. That’s why we test you for some of the most common STDs during your annual exam.
We also conduct a Pap smear at regular intervals based on recommendations by the American College of Gynecology (ACOG). A Pap smear checks for changes in the cells of your cervix that could be an early sign of cervical cancer. At the same time as your Pap smear, we test for HPV infection.
Get the answers you need with STD testing at Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville. Phone our nearest office or book an appointment online. We look forward to the privilege of providing your care!