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    APRIL IS STI AWARENESS MONTH

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | April 17th, 2016

    APRIL IS STI AWARENESS MONTH

    Anyone having sex is at risk of being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It does not matter your age. Granted, some people are more at risk than others. If you are in a monogamous relationship (meaning you are exclusively with one person and you know that person is exclusively with you) and both of you were tested for the common STIs prior to engaging in an intimate relationship then your risk of getting an STI is low. Also, abstaining from all sexual activities reduces the risk as well. All others might not be so lucky.

    Here are some stats from the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) that may surprise you:

    More than half of all people will have an STI at some point in their lifetime

    Each year, one in four teens contract an STI

    One in two sexually active persons will contract an STI by age 25

    One in five people who have HIV do not know they have it

    At least 15 percent of all American women who are infertile can attribute it to tubal damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), the results of an untreated STI  

    Here is what you need to do:

    1. Get educated – Sexual education is important. You need to know what diseases are out there and know how to protect yourself
    2. Get tested – You should know your HIV status. Before entering a new relationship, I believe one date should be to the health department to get tested for at least the most common STIs. If you do not want to go to the health department, then each person should go to their physician to get tested. Please note that there are over 20 STIs, so if you go to your doctor and ask to be tested for everything, that will probably not happen. Some of the testing is based on what is prevalent in the area that you live. It is important that you know what test your physician has performed. Also note test like chlamydia and gonorrhea can be checked in the urine avoiding a pelvic exam especially in our young women.
    3. Communicate with your partner – You cannot look at someone and know whether they have an STI. Most people do not have symptoms, however if you are having symptoms talk with your partner. If you see something that looks unusual on your partner, ask what it is. If unsure, use protection or do not do anything until evaluated by a doctor
    4. Use protection – You can get an STI from all forms of sex- vaginal, anal and oral. Although abstinence is truly the best form of prevention, sex is part of life. Condoms, dental dams and other barriers are great for reducing the risk of STIs.
    5. Get treated – Based on the stats, people will be diagnosed with an STI. It is so important to take the medications as directed and to inform your partner so that they can be treated. Also, it is important to follow up as directed by your physician to make sure that the treatment worked. Getting the news that you are positive for an STI is not necessarily the type of news you want to hear but it is important to inform your partner even if you are not together. The initial feeling is to be angry and not say anything because after all, no one told you. You need to be the better person.

    If you want more information about STIs, please go the ASHA website. They have a wealth of information. Also, remember your physician is a great resource as well. You should never feel embarrassed to talk with your physician. Every community has a health department that is available to provide testing and treatment at low or no cost.

    Please share the information. We can stop the spread of STI by being proactive.

     

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    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.
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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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