In September 2017, the Centers for Disease Control announced that STD infection rates in the United States had hit a record high, with more than two million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis being reported in 2016. The CDC also found that chlamydia, which accounted for 1.6 million of the new diagnoses, was by far the most common of these STDs.
Soon after the CDC released its health advisory, the New York State Department of Health published its own data on STD rates by county. This report found that Monroe County had one of the highest rates of chlamydia infection in the state, second only to New York City. Other nearby counties such as Niagara, Orleans and Erie ranked high on the list as well.
So what can we do to combat the rising rate of chlamydia and other STD infections in Monroe County?
We can start by educating ourselves about safe-sex practices and discussing our risk factors with our partners. Most people know that condoms and other barriers can significantly reduce their risk of STD infection, but they may not know that there are other ways to make sex safer, too. Using a water-based or silicone personal lubricant can help to prevent STD infections by reducing the friction that causes small tears in sensitive skin, for example. Washing before and after intercourse can reduce the risk of STD infection as well.
It’s also important to have open and honest discussions about safe sex with our partners.
These conversations can be uncomfortable at first, but you’ll probably feel much better once you get it out of the way. Talking about safe sex with your partner can also demonstrate that you care about your relationship with them. If your partner is unwilling to discuss STD risk factors and safe sex practices, they might not be the right person for you.
Discussing when you were last tested for STDs is typically a good place to start. From there, you can ask your partner if they’ve ever had an STD in the past. If so, make sure they have been treated for it and tested again since their diagnosis.
You can also discuss your preferred method of birth control and ask if your partner usually uses condoms or other barriers. Finally, ask about other high-risk practices like sharing needles for tattoos, piercings or intravenous drugs. As long as you’re candid about your own sexual history and STD risk factors, your partner should be, too.
Keep in mind that chlamydia infections can be particularly dangerous for women.
Although this bacterial infection can usually be easily cured with antibiotics, it can also have serious long-term health consequences if left unchecked. Chlamydia is a leading cause of infertility in women, and it can even cause potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies. Women with chlamydia infections are also more likely to become infected if exposed to the HIV virus.
If you’d like to receive an STD screening or discuss your STD risk factors with a doctor, consider scheduling a confidential gynecology exam with the caring staff at South Avenue Women’s Services. Our physicians will be happy to counsel you on safe sex practices and answer any questions you might have about STDs. To schedule an appointment, feel free to give us a call or contact us online today.