Young Women and STDs: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Many young women underestimate their risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but statistics tell a different story.

Young womenIn the U.S., at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consider these statistics alone:*

  • South Carolina ranks 14th in the nation for incidence of cervical cancer. The HPV virus that can cause cervical cancer is the most common sexually transmitted disease in girls ages 14 to 19.
  • South Carolina is among the top 10 states in the United States for the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
  • South Carolina has the eighth highest rate of new AIDS cases annually in the United States.

Know the facts about STDs

Several myths about STDs are widely believed — and widely repeated. Knowing the facts can help to make a difference. Here are a few of the most common myths about sexually transmitted diseases:

Myth #1: The pill prevents STDs

This is one of the most common and dangerous misconceptions. While taking birth control pills decreases the risk of unplanned pregnancy, it does not offer protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

Myth #2: If your partner has an STD, you’ll see it

There’s often no sign that a person has an STD. And because STDs don’t always cause symptoms, it’s possible to carry and spread an STD without ever having an outbreak. Even doctors often can't tell by looking if people have STDs. So they need to do tests, like bloodwork.

Myth #3: You can’t get an STD from oral sex

The viruses or bacteria that cause STDs can enter the body through tiny cuts or tears in the mouth and anus, as well as the genitals. Some STDs, like herpes or genital warts, can spread through contact with an infected area or sore.

MYTH #4: STDs are not serious diseases and are easily cured

This is false. When left untreated, STDs can cause serious illnesses such as cervical cancer, chronic pelvic pain, sterility (the inability to have children), increased risk of HIV infection and in some cases, even death.

Myth #5: Only people who sleep around get STDs

Anyone can get an STD from having unprotected sex, even if it is their first time. What can you do? If you decide to have sex, use a condom every time — even if you’re already on another kind of birth control, like the pill. That’s because condoms are the only type of birth control that reduces the risk of getting an STD.

Protect yourself.
Get tested. Get treated.

daisyTesting plays a critical role in stopping the rapid spread of STDs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these screenings:

  • Sexually active women ages 25 years and younger should be screened annually for chlamydia because this age group is at highest risk.
  • Routine screening for gonorrhea in sexually active women at risk for infection is recommended annually. Risk factors include a previous gonorrhea infection, the presence of other STDs, new or multiple sex partners, inconsistent condom use and drug use.
  • Pregnant women should be screened for HIV infection and other STDs as early in pregnancy as possible.
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Young Ladies
Health Lecture Series

Jessica Keller”Sexually transmitted diseases are dramatically on the rise,“ says Jessica Keller, DO, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Aiken Regional Medical Centers. “Young women’s reluctance to recognize or acknowledge being at risk may be due, in part, to the fact that many STDs have few or no obvious physical symptoms.”

In addition, many young women lack accurate information about STDs. “Based on my clinical experience, it’s clear that many young women have significant misconceptions about STDs and STD testing,” says Dr. Keller. “These beliefs may influence continued disease transmission.”

Join us to get answers to the important health questions facing young women today.

Hosted by Jessica Keller, DO, our discussions will include:

  • August 20 — Teen Pregnancy
  • September 24 — Common Questions about Birth Control
  • October 24 — How to Protect Yourself from STDs

All lectures will be held at 6 p.m. at the USCA Business Conference Center.

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Aiken Regional Medical Centers is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc.(UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation.        

Aiken Regional Medical Centers

302 University Parkway
Aiken, SC 29801

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