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Can STIs Resolve On Their Own Without Treatment?

Can STIs Resolve On Their Own Without Treatment?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are prevalent in the United States, affecting 1 in 5 people. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI in the U.S., followed by herpes and syphilis.

STIs can be highly unpleasant, inconvenient, and even embarrassing at times—especially during flares, when symptoms are at their worst. Though it’s nice to think STIs can go away on their own without treatment, the truth is that many STIs stick around without causing symptoms. This increases the risk of transmission and complications like infertility and cancer.

Here’s what you need to know about STIs and treatment and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center for an STI screening.

Which STIs Can Go Away on Their Own?

Hepatitis B and HPV have the potential to go away on their own, especially if your immune system is robust, according to Planned Parenthood. However, it adds that these STIs will often stay in your body long term to develop into serious diseases that increase your risk for cancer.

The CDC reports that in 9 in 10 people who have HPV, the infection goes away within two years without causing health problems. In instances where HPV doesn’t go away, this infection can cause many types of warts in males and females, along with cervical cancer in females.

Many STIs—including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and HPV—don’t cause symptoms at all or cause symptoms that come and go. These STIs can trick you into thinking your infection has resolved on its own when your symptoms have only gone away temporarily.

STI screening is the only way to know whether an infection—even if you don’t have symptoms. Getting screened can let you know whether you need treatment and if you need to take certain precautions to avoid spreading your STI to your sexual partner.

What Are the Common Symptoms of STIs?

Every STI produces its own set of symptoms. Many STI symptoms are the same as other medical conditions, making it difficult to tell which state you have without testing and a doctor’s diagnosis.

Common STI symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Skin rash.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating.
  • Pain during bowel movements.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Itching of the rectum or vagina.
  • Bleeding of the rectum.
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding.
  • Strong vaginal odor.
  • They are itching or burning at the opening of the penis.
  • Pain or swelling in the testicles.
  • Discharge from the vagina, rectum, or penis.
  • Sores, blisters, or warts around the rectum or genitals.

What Is STI Screening?

STI screening, also known as STI testing, can help you and your doctor determine whether you have an STI. This test may be performed as a blood test, a urine test, or a swab test. The type of test you receive will depend on the type of infection your doctor thinks you may have based on your symptoms.

Syphilis, HIV, and herpes may be diagnosed using a blood test. During a blood test, your provider will use a fine needle to draw a small sample of blood from a vein in your arm.

Trichomoniasis and gonorrhea may be diagnosed using a urine test. During a urine test, you will urinate into a small sterile cup at a lab or your provider’s office.

HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes are usually diagnosed using a swab test. During a swab test, your provider will use a swab to collect a small fluid sample from the infection site. For example, if you have an open sore near your genitals, your provider may swab the sore to obtain a fluid sample.

In rare instances, your doctor may recommend a spinal tap, which involves drawing a sample of fluid from your spinal cord. A spinal tap is usually only performed if your doctor suspects you have advanced-stage syphilis or herpes.

How Often Should I Be Screened for STIs?

Your doctor can recommend an ideal STI screening schedule based on your medical and sexual histories. Suppose you do not feel comfortable having an open and honest conversation with your doctor about your sexual account. In that case, you may consider visiting a clinic that offers confidential and free or low-cost testing or using an at-home STI test kit.

The CDC provides the following STI testing recommendations:

  • Anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested at least one time for HIV.
  • All women under 25 who are sexually active should be tested once a year for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • All women aged 25 and older should be tested once a year for gonorrhea and chlamydia if they meet risk factors, such as having multiple sex partners.
  • All pregnant women should be tested early in pregnancy for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
  • All men who have sex with men should be tested at least once a year for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Men with multiple or anonymous sex partners should be tested for these STIs more frequently every three to six months.
  • All men who have sex with men should be tested at least once a year for hepatitis C if they are living with HIV.
  • Anyone who engages in sexual behaviors that put them at risk for infection or who share injection drug equipment like needles should be tested for HIV at least once a year.

Where Can I Get STI Testing?

STI tests are many health providers, including primary care doctors, walk-in clinics, and urgent care centers give STI testsrimary care provider directly to find out how and where to get an STI test or enter your location into the CDC’s Get Tested website to find testing centers near you.

The cost of STI testing usually ranges between $0 and $250. Test costs are based on factors such as whether or not you have health insurance, the type of test you’re receiving, and your income.

Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers STI testing and can talk to you more about what to expect if you need to get tested. If you are diagnosed with an STI, our doctors can work with you to manage your STI and choose the proper treatment.

How Are STIs Treated?

The type of treatment you receive for an STI depends mainly on your infection or disease.

Bacterial STIs such as syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can usually be effectively treated using one round or dose of antibiotics. According to the CDC, a single long-acting Benzathine penicillin G injection can cure early-stage syphilis. At the same time, three doses may be used to treat late latent syphilis (syphilis that occurred more than 12 months ago).

Herpes and HIV are usually treated with antiviral medications, which can minimize symptoms and prevent infection from becoming more severe. When taken daily to treat genital herpes, antiviral drugs can prevent or shorten outbreaks and reduce herpes transmission.

With some STIs, such as HPV, you may only be able to treat specific symptoms. Warts that HPV causes may be treated using topical wart removal medications. Salicylic acid, imiquimod, and podofilox are some medications your doctor may prescribe to treat warts. In cases where warts do not respond to medication, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the warts.

Vaccines are available for three STIs: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HPV. These vaccines cannot be used to treat STIs, but they can reduce your risk of getting them.

The hepatitis A vaccine can be given as early as 12 months of age, and the hepatitis B vaccine can be given at birth. The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine starting at ages 11 or 12 and no later than 26.

How to Reduce Your Risk for STIs

The most effective way to reduce your STI risk is not having sex. However, there are many steps you can take to avoid STIs, even if you are sexually active.

  • Practice mutual monogamy. This means being sexually active with only one person who has agreed to be sexually active only with you.
  • Reduce the number of sex partners you have.
  • Wait to have sex with a new partner until both of you have been tested for STIs.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HPV.
  • Use condoms and dental dams correctly and consistently. Refer to the CDC’s website for guidance if you need help learning how to use a condom.
  • Avoid injection drugs and needle sharing.
  • Use alcohol responsibly to avoid engaging in risky sexual behavior.

Lompoc Valley Medical Center Can Help You Manage Your Sexual Health

Our highly trained primary care doctors at Lompoc Valley Medical Center can accurately diagnose and treat STIs and screen you regularly or as needed for many conditions, including cancer. We can also discuss vaccines that can reduce your risk for certain STIs in more detail.

Contact us today at (805) 737-3382 to request an appointment and to learn more about our many healthcare services.