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Risks Associated With Leaving STDs Untreated

Published on Jun 29, 2022 | 3:37 PM

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Leaving sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) untreated can have serious consequences, as many STDs can lead to long-term health complications such as infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and an increased risk of HIV transmission. Additionally, some STDs can progress silently without noticeable symptoms, emphasizing the importance of early detection and treatment to prevent further health risks and potential transmission to others.

STD Types and Risks Associated With Them

Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a common STD where symptoms can appear within two to six weeks as well as report as a positive result on a urine or swab test. Chlamydia can be spread through semen, vaginal and or anal fluids. It is common to not show any symptoms of chlamydia, however, common symptoms include abnormal discharge and pain or trouble urinating.

If left untreated, chlamydia can cause:
   >A higher chance of getting and spreading HIV
   >Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), including chronic pelvic pain
   >Epididymitis
   >Infertility
   >Ectopic pregnancy
   >Arthritis
*If you are pregnant you should speak with a doctor if positive for chlamydia as it can be spread to your child during birth

Genital Warts
Genital warts can appear anywhere from weeks to years after the infection. Genital warts are painless bumps on the skin that can be diagnosed with a visual examination. Symptoms may not go away without treatment, but topical medications can clear the infection as well as some vaccinations can prevent some strains of HPV.

If left untreated, genital warts can cause:
   >A higher chance of getting and spreading HIV
   >Warts that are resistant to treatment
*If pregnant consult with your doctor as the genital warts virus can be passed to your child during birth

Gonorrhea
Gonorrhea is a bacteria STD spread through semen as well as anal or vaginal fluids. Symptoms can appear within 2-7 days as well as show up as positive on an STD test within that time period. Gonorrhea symptoms include abnormal discharge and pain or trouble urinating, but can be cleared with antibiotics.

If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause:
   >A higher chance of getting and spreading HIV
   >Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), including chronic pelvic pain
   >Epididymitis
   >Infertility
   >Ectopic pregnancy
   >Arthritis
   >Disseminated gonococcal infection (a severe health complication resulting from untreated gonorrhea)
*If you are pregnant you should be screened as chlamydia can be spread to your child during birth

Herpes
Herpes is a common STD caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2. After the initial infection, the virus lies dormant in your body and can reactivate several times a year. Most people infected with herpes do not have any symptoms. When present, the characteristic signs of herpes are itching and painful blisters that appear on the lips, genital or rectal area. Unfortunately, there's no FDA-approved cure for herpes. However, antivirals can minimize the severity and duration of an outbreak and also reduce the frequency of future occurrences. 

Syphilis
Syphilis is caused by a bacterial infection and occurs in four stages: primary, secondary, early latent and late latent. Symptoms are different during the different phases but can cause a painless, non-itchy sore or rash. Syphilis can be detected within 3 days to 3 months of the infection and treated with antibiotics.

If left untreated, syphilis can lead to:
   >A higher chance of getting and spreading HIV
   >Infertility
   >Damage to the brain, heart or other organs in the body
   >Headaches, dizziness, balance problems, dementia, hearing or vision changes, numb/weakness in the legs
   >Severe cases can cause death

Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis is an infection cause by a parasite transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids. A positive test result can be detected between 2-28 days after transmission. Symptoms generally include abnormal vaginal discharge as well as pain or trouble urinating, but trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics.

If left untreated, trichomoniasis can cause:
   >A higher chance of getting or spreading HIV
   >Infertility
*If pregnant it is important to discuss a positive trichomoniasis infection with your healthcare provider as there is an increased risk for premature rupture of membranes in pregnancy

Ureaplasma
Ureaplasma is a bacteria that lives in the respiratory, urinary and reproductive tracts where the infection is spread through unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse. Ureaplasma can be detected through a urine or swab test and be cured with antibiotics. It’s common to not notice symptoms, but some symptoms include inflammation in the urethra, painful urination, unusual discharge or red and swollen around the genitals.

If left untreated, ureaplasma can lead to:
   >Kidney stones
   >Premature labor
   >Respiratory diseases in newborns
   >Infertility
   >A higher chance of contracting other STDs
   >In extreme cases, it can spread to other parts of your body and damage joints, nerves, and muscles or cause meningitis or pneumonia.

Getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases is important to keep you healthy and prevent long-term health problems. It is a good idea to be tested regularly for STDs, especially if you have new sexual partners or open relationships. Talking with partners about safer sex makes sure everyone knows what to expect and using condoms reduces your chances of getting and passing some infections that cause STDs.

How Can CallonDoc Help

CallonDoc can test and treat STDs privately and discretely from the comfort of your home. To get treated simply select your condition, or if unsure select “I don’t know my condition,” and answer a few health questions about your symptoms. Our providers will review and prescribe to your pharmacy of choice. CallonDoc can also test for STDs in person or with an at-home test kit. Visit our lab testing page, choose between an "in-person" or "at-home" lab and select your test. You will receive instructions on where to go if in-person, or receive your test kit to your home within a few days. Test and tel visits are included with all labs and if positive, treatment is prescribed for free. CallonDoc also provides 50% off expedited partner treatment for your partner if you get treated for an STD.

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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