When it comes to STDs, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) offers an alarming statistic – one in five Americans has an STD. That equates to almost 70 million people, nearly half of whom will be between the ages of 15 and 24.
To make things worse, many of those who are infected will have no symptoms.
What This Means For Black Americans
Further information shows that Black Americans are much more likely to be infected with specific STDs such as chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea. Studies have found that Black people were 5 – 7 times more likely to have chlamydia than those of other ethnicities.
For gonorrhea, the numbers go up 7 – 9 times the likelihood. The numbers for syphilis are the same as the lower end of chlamydia.
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The Truth About STD Symptoms
It’s noteworthy that a few STDs such as chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and gonorrhea can be present without symptoms. When they are present, it’s possible for symptoms to range from mild to severe.
Additionally, men and women may experience the symptoms differently. It can also take some time for the symptoms to appear or become noticeable. In any case, these are the symptoms to look out for:
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pain during sex
- Unexplained bleeding
- A foul-smelling or unusual discharge
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Bumps or sores on the mouth or genitals
- A regular fever
- Unexplained chills
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Hair loss
- Persistent headaches
Of course, these symptoms aren’t always linked to STDs. There could be other issues such as kidney stones, a urinary tract infection, or specific types of cancer. Regardless of the cause, they are worth being investigated.
How Untreated STDs Can Affect Your Health
The complications of an untreated STD can take as long as a decade to show up. STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause scarring in the reproductive system that makes men and women infertile.
Even if this doesn’t happen, you may still develop another condition known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which affects fertility and increases the chances of an ectopic pregnancy. Syphilis, in particular, can obstruct the epididymis and cause infertility in men.
Where a pregnancy does occur, chlamydia and gonorrhea can increase a woman’s risk of having a miscarriage or preterm birth. STDs can also be passed on to the baby and cause health issues such as blindness, eye infections, and lung infections. Herpes and syphilis have even been known to be fatal to newborns.
Not all the health complications of an STD are related to reproduction or the reproductive system. For example, syphilis can cause permanent damage to the major blood vessels that are linked to your heart, blindness, dementia, brain damage, loss of motor skills, kidney problems, and issues with your bones. Left untreated, Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver.
Genital herpes can cause meningitis and lead to issues with the bladder.
What You Need To Do
Of course, the best way to ensure that your health is affected by an STD is to practice safe sex and stay away from any activities that can expose you to an infection.
Realistically, though, things don’t always go according to plan so make sure you incorporate an STD screening into your regular doctor visits. If you’ve been diagnosed with any illnesses, be sure to follow the doctor’s prescribed treatment plan.
STDs are more than an inconvenience. If they’re ignored, you could develop complications that have far-reaching consequences on how you live your life. Since certain infections can have no symptoms, keep safe and get tested when you’re not sure.