What are some of the risks associated with untreated STDs?
Date: December 28th, 2021
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), are common infections transmitted primarily through contact: and majorly through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sexual contact.
Among these infections are syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV, and HIV. The only way to identify if you have any of these infections is through STD testing and screening. However, many people would dodge testing for one primary reason: most conditions don't show signs or symptoms. So, they assume “no symptoms, no infections.”
Unfortunately, most of these infections require or intense treatment. But of course, some would quickly respond to prescriptions. Worst is, if these diseases are not treated, you could face some severe complications with others leading to death.
This article discusses some of the short and long-term consequences or risks of untreated STDs. Also, we have covered some of the possible ways to prevent the spread of various STDs. But first, why would someone fail to treat STD?
Reasons for untreated STDs
One primary reason contributing to the spread and failure to treat most sexual infections is avoiding STD screening. Of course, some people fear STD tests because they may affect their relationship, like cause breakups and the fear of being found with an incurable STD like HIV. And lastly, some see no signs, and the assumption is obvious, no infections.
Even though testing for STIs can be a challenging process, it plays a significant role in protecting one's future.
So what are some of the reasons why you need to know your STD status?
- To prevent severe complications- infertility, liver infection, among others.
- Prevent the further spread of infections to your partners, so the earlier you detect a disease, the better.
- Knowing your STD also helps you avoid any legalities surrounding the disclosure of STDs.
And a failure or waiting long before getting tested would only increase your chances of danger. Worst is, some of the complications resulting from undetected and untreated STDs may be irreversible and cost you your life. So, what are some of the risks of untreated STDs? These are just a few of the reasons why you need to get tested.
Risks of untreated STDs
Failure to detect or treat an STD infection in time would put you in danger of:
Infecting your sexual partner (s)
Undoubtedly, having any sexually transmitted infection increases your chances of spreading or passing it to your partner or partners. The conditions put every person in danger, even those who practice safe sex or have upgraded their sex life and use condoms.
How” that? There are some STIs that are spread through body contact and not necessarily through sex. Meaning condoms would only offer partial protection.
Different STDs may complicate your pregnancy and create severe effects on both the mother and her child. According to the CDC, some of the impacts would start at birth, and some may not be discovered until a month or even years. That said, every pregnant woman must follow the CDC-STD testing guidelines to ensure they are safe from STIs.
Here are some of the STDs and their effects on pregnancy:
Chlamydia. This is one of the common STDs that you can live with for years without knowing you have. However, if not treated in time, it causes preterm labor or the premature rapture of the water membranes causing the labor to start weeks before the due date.
It also causes Pelvic Inflammatory Disease- an infection of the fallopian tubes and womb. Worst is this infection may cause severe and long-term abdominal pains and pregnancy outside the womb- ectopic pregnancy.
There are also high chances of pregnant mothers passing the infection to their children, causing eye and chest infection, brain damage, among other effects. So, all expectant mothers must ensure they regularly go for STD screening and testing to be able to treat chlamydia for safe delivery.
Gonorrhea- if untreated, gonorrhea may cause premature birth, rupture of the membrane, and low birth weight. Since many women don’t show signs of gonorrhea, this infection would spread through to the cervix up to the genital tract, thus affecting the uterus. This infection can also be passed to the child at birth.
The disease would then damaging the fallopian tubes or causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The bacteria that causes the PID may also result in ectopic pregnancy and sometimes severe abdominal pain.
Syphilis- during pregnancy, syphilis has been linked to perinatal morbidity, mortality, and premature birth. If untreated, syphilis may lead to severe pregnancy outcomes like fatal loss, stillbirth, and low birth weight. Worst is that a pregnant mother can pass the infection to their children; it may also cause congenital infections.
- There are high chances of the mothers passing HIV to the babies during pregnancy, at labor or birth, or even when breastfeeding the babies.
- Research indicates that Hepatitis C increases the risks of low birth weight, premature birth, and mothers can pass the infection to their babies at birth.
Other effects of common STDs on your baby may include:
- Blood infections
- Deafness and blindness
- Eye infections
- Chronic liver Infections
Developing severe heath complications
If not treated, STDs can result in several health complications. For instance, some may cause cancer or liver problems. Here are some examples:
- HPV- is linked to cancer, and in most cases, it has been referred to as the “cervical cancer virus.” It’s also associated with penile and anal cancer- though only in the cases of unprotected anal sex.
- Genital Herpes is said to be causing meningitis and bladder problems.
- Hepatitis B is amongst the factors that increase the chances of liver cancer. It can also cause cirrhosis.
- HIV has also be found to be reducing life expectancy primarily due to reduced immune systems that encourage opportunistic infections.
- Syphilis also causes- blindness, dementia, and loss of motor skills. Additionally, it can damage your brain, kidney, eye, and your bones, among other complications.
Increases your chance of becoming infertile
If left untreated, most STDs like syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea may result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility. Syphilis would also cause destroy the epididymis, thus increasing the chances of infertility in males.
Increases your chances of passing or getting HIV
Sexually transmitted infections like syphilis and Herpes are ulcerative, and they might cause open sores in your body. This would make you susceptible to HIV infection. And how’s that? The sores created can offer HIV easy entry to your body, especially in the unprotected body or sexual contact.
Sure, not only ulcerative STIs would pose a risk of HIV infections. But, different STDs have various ways to contribute to you getting or passing the infection to the next person. For instance, some wounds cause an inflammatory response in your genitals, and when your immune cells go to fight the conditions, the virus could quickly get into your blood system.
There are also other risks of untreated STDs, like increased viral shedding that result when you have HIV alongside other STDs. When this happens, HIV will increase the number of your genital response to inflammations caused by an STD. the bad news is that the higher the number of shred viruses, the greater your chances of transmissions.
So, how can you prevent getting or spreading STDs?
The first thing that every person must know is that there are some incurable STDs, which calls for prevention. So, avoid the factors that increase your exposure to these infections. Among them include;
Reduce the number of your sex partners
Your risks of untreated STDs increase with the number of sex partners you have. You must remember that having more sex partners puts you at risk of more infections as most of those partners might also be attached to other infected persons.
Reduce/avoid drug and substance abuse
It can be hard to know what you do after taking alcohol, and the chances are high that you won’t consider using protection when having sex. Drugs impair your judgment, and you may not think well, so what if you have an STD-infected partner.
You must also ensure you go for regular STD screening and testing with your partner (s) - this would help in early detection of any infections, thus reducing your chances of facing severe complications of untreated STIs.
Some people would dodge STD screening for different reasons. But whether it's for fear of stigmatization, relationship breakup, or whether you don’t see any symptoms indicating an STD, you must make STD testing a priority in your life.
Through testing, you’ll be able to manage the different complications or risks of untreated STDs. The hazards you stand to control with regular testing include the spread and growth of severe complications like infertility, cancer, and becoming infertility or endangering your pregnancy.
Therefore, please have protected sex. But, the most significant factor is to consider going for STD screening and testing before having sex with your partner.