Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a serious problem in the U.S. Combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia reached an all-time high in 2018. However, not all STDs are created equal. Some can be cured while others can last a lifetime. Furthermore, some go undetected for years while others have symptoms specific to one gender. Our STD list breaks down the differences from chlamydia to syphilis. Keep yourself safe and know the statistics of STDs.
Types of STDs
The first on our STD list starts with chlamydia. It can affect both men and women. However, women can get it in their cervix, throat, or rectum while men in their urethra, rectum, or throat. People develop chlamydia from oral, vaginal, and anal sex. A pregnant woman can also pass it on to her child while giving birth.
Many people do not experience any symptoms of chlamydia. This can make it go undetected for long periods of time. Nonetheless, symptoms for women include smelly vaginal discharge, burning while urinating, and painful intercourse. Furthermore, male symptoms include penile discharge, pain during urination, itching near the penis, and pain or itching in the testicles.
1.8 million cases in 2018
19% increase since 2014
Many confuse gonorrhea with chlamydia due to their similarities. Like chlamydia, it can affect a woman’s cervix, throat, or rectum and men’s urethra, throat, or rectum. Furthermore, mothers can infect their babies during childbirth. Many do not experience any symptoms. However, some symptoms include increased discharge in the penis or vagina, painful urination, pain in the testicles, vaginal bleeding between periods, and pelvic pain.
583,405 cases in 2018
63% increase since 2014
Primary and Secondary Syphilis
Next on our STD list are primary and secondary syphilis. They consist of two stages of syphilis. The first stage, primary syphilis, causes sores located on the mouth, genitals, or anus. If not treated, it can turn into secondary syphilis. You can cure both primary and secondary syphilis. However, if secondary syphilis continues to go untreated, it can turn into the incurable tertiary stage. This stage can damage your organs, cause dementia, paralysis, or even death.
Symptoms of secondary syphilis include a rash that doesn’t itch. Other symptoms include flu-like symptoms including sore throat, fevers, headache, and fatigue.
35,063 cases in 2018
71% increase since 2014
Congenital syphilis consists of when the mother passes on syphilis to her baby during birth. Symptoms include low birth weight, skin issues, and fever. Many times, it can go undetected until the baby ages to a child of 2 to 5 years old.
1,306 cases in 2018
185% increase since 2014
Health consequences of STDs
Each year, nearly 20 million Americans become infected with an STD. Half of them all into the 15 and 24 age category. Across the nation, at any given time, the STD infections can exceed 110 million people. Furthermore, the long-lasting health effects for young people infected with STDs are particularly serious. Consequences of untreated STDs may include infertility, brain and other organ damage, and increased susceptibility to HIV.
Women infected with STDs suffer more long-term damage to their health than men. Given that most infected women have minimal or no symptoms, many remain undiagnosed and untreated. The untreated infections can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing infertility, ectopic (tubal) pregnancies, and chronic pelvic pain. Untreated infections can be passed along, mother to fetus, and result in infections of the baby in the uterus, death of the unborn baby and newborn, and an increased risk for cancer and HIV. A person who is infected with an STD is more likely than an uninfected person to acquire HIV if exposed to the virus through sexual contact.
Protecting yourself from STDs
Women can protect themselves by practicing safer sex, being tested for STDs by their health care provider, and if infected, seeking treatment immediately and asking their partner to get tested and treated to avoid reinfection. Sexually active people need the correct information on preventing STDs so they can make informed decisions about their sexual activity. Ask your healthcare provider if you should be screened for STDs.
Whether speaking with patients or lunching with my friends, the topic of a lack of sexual desire seems to fill my day. As a doctor, I hear this complaint frequently. Women and their partners want to know why they lack a sex drive. Is there something wrong with them? Is there a magic pill to fix it? The DSM-V outlines four categories of sexual dysfunction. Many of which often intertwine.
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
Patients most commonly report this type of sexual dysfunction category. Furthermore, it’s defined as a lack of sexual desire that causes women distress. Those who would rather do laundry than have sex might fall into this category. However, she understands that her lack of sexual desire could be problematic. In addition, she may feel guilty as it might harm her relationship. She might also feel like there is something wrong with her.
Several things can affect libidos. These include relationship issues, stress and certain medications, such as birth control pills and antidepressants. In addition, postpartum women report a lack of desire caused by exhaustion, stress, hormonal and physiological changes. Studies show this typically improves after three to six months. Women in this category can lack interest initially. However, once she feels pleasure, she can respond and enjoy sexual intercourse.
Sexual arousal disorder
Sexual arousal disorder occurs when a woman has trouble lubricating for sex or feeling stimulated. She may want to have sex but not feel physically aroused. Causes can include psychological problems, external stressors or medical issues, such as decreased blood flow to the sex organs. Additionally, many women notice an arousal disorder when experiencing menopause and hormonal changes. However, vaginal estrogen and over the counter lubricants can often help.
Orgasmic dysfunction refers to the inability to reach orgasm. It can also refer to the delay in reaching an orgasm despite adequate stimulation. Some women describe their orgasms as less intense or muted. The four types of orgasmic dysfunctions include:
Primary anorgasmia is when a woman has never had an orgasm. This is seen in cases of sexual or emotional abuse. It is also experienced by women from some cultures who were taught that sex is dirty or not ladylike.
Secondary anorgasmia represents reporting an orgasm while still having difficulty reaching them.
Situational anorgasmia, the most common orgasmic dysfunction, refers to the ability to reach orgasm in solely specific situations such as masturbation or oral sex.
General anorgasmia represents the total inability to achieve orgasm even though sexually aroused and stimulated regardless of situational circumstances.
Sexual pain disorders
The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia. A vaginal infection like yeast or bacterial vaginosis can cause painful intercourse. In addition, thinning of the vaginal tissue and dryness from menopause can cause pain. Sometimes, it can also tear the tissue. Your gynecologist can evaluate you for vaginitis or vaginal atrophy with an exam.
Furthermore, when a woman anticipates pain, she may tighten her vaginal muscles. “Vaginismus” can result in more pain. Plus, partners may feel like the woman is too tight or hitting a brick wall. Sometimes, the sexual dysfunction disorder dyspareunia can be treated with medication. However, if the result of an emotional or relationship issues, difficulty with medication can ensue.
If you feel your sex life has deteriorated, it might be time to visit your gynecologist for an evaluation. They can help you determine possible causes for your symptoms. Fortunately, many of these problems can be treated easily. Often just hearing your symptoms can help your provider direct you on a path to a healthy sex life again.
Surgeons use robotic surgery to assist with precision during the surgery. Many consider these types of surgeries less invasive with smaller incisions. Read our FAQ below to learn everything you need to know about robotic-assisted surgeries.
What are the differences between robotic surgery and laparoscopic surgery?
In traditional laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon places small incisions on the patient’s belly. Using a camera and small instruments, they go inside those incisions to perform the procedure while the surgeon manipulates the instruments at the bedside. In addition, these straight-stick instruments only move in the up or down directions.
Robotic surgery starts in a similar same way. The surgeon creates small incisions. However, a robotic platform holds the instruments instead of the surgeon at the bedside. Furthermore, the surgeon stands near a console and manipulates the instruments with hand controls. The instruments move in all directions, unlike laparoscopic surgery. This gives the surgeon better access to operate. Therefore, surgeons have the advantage of performing more complex procedures with better precision. Lastly, the camera has a three-dimensional visualization. In other words, this allows the surgeon to see more clearly.
Does the robot or the surgeon perform the surgery?
Patients often imagine that the robot acts independently from AI or artificial intelligence. This could not be further from the truth. The surgeon controls every single movement from the console. Think of the robotic platform as a stationary assistant. It holds the instruments and directly communicates the movements of the surgeon’s hands.
What types of procedures can you perform robotically?
Many different types of robotic surgeries exist. They range from simple hysterectomies to more complex pelvic surgeries with severe endometriosis. Furthermore, robotic surgeries can perform procedures for endometrial, cervical and ovarian cancers. Robotic surgery can assist with very complex ovarian or endometrial cancer operations that involve the removal of metastatic tumors. In the past, these surgeries were commonly performed using an “open approach” or a very large incision in the belly.
What are the benefits of having a robotic procedure versus a traditional open procedure?
Many proven benefits exist with robotic surgery as opposed to open surgery. Patients who have minimally invasive surgery will experience much less pain, less blood loss, less hospitalization time, and lower infection rates. Around 90 percent of patients go home the same day as their procedures, including complex cancer procedures. The movement toward same-day discharge has been increasing steadily and has been studied extensively at major surgical and cancer centers. It has been found to be safe and very satisfying for patients who can spend more recovery time with their families in the comfort of their homes versus the hospital.
Recovery time from robotic procedures is typically cut in half when compared to open approaches, which allows patients to get back to their normal routines much sooner and relieves the financial burden for patients who need to get back to work. In the long-term, we see much less formation of adhesions and scar tissue after minimally invasive surgeries when compared to open procedures.
Who are candidates for robotic surgery and what are some important questions to ask your doctor?
Any patient who is considering a gynecological surgery should have a consultation with their trusted surgeon to discuss the possible options for performing the surgery. It is important for patients to have a detailed conversation with their provider about the appropriateness of a robotic procedure in their condition. As an example, there are many women who may be told they are not candidates for robotic surgery due to the history of multiple previous surgeries, when they actually may be able to very safely have minimally invasive surgery. It is important to ask about your doctor’s experience with minimally invasive approaches and ask what to expect after surgery, specifically regarding restrictions and timing of returning to work. These questions will help prepare patients for the recovery period.
The patient experience is quickly becoming one of the most critical aspects of healthcare. Part of providing a better experience is ensuring every person is safe, treated with respect, and equipped with personalized patient-centered care. Match 8 to 14 marks National Patient Safety Goals Week. In observance of this important event, we explain how patients and gynecologist responsibilities can both play a critical role in improving the patient experience. This ensures patient safety is at the forefront of healthcare.
Health care team and gynecologist responsibilities:
Providers see dozens of patients a week. Each person has different issues and concerns. Regardless of their busy schedules, essential gynecologist responsibilities include the ability to listen. Your provider should listen to your individual needs and offer both clinical and emotional support. This level of care helps build trust between you and your health care provider. Furthermore, research shows that patients typically experience better outcomes if they trust their healthcare provider.
Excellent communication is key to patient safety. Health care providers should not be quick to dismiss your concerns or disagree. Instead, they should thoroughly explain their diagnosis and provide clear answers. They should also ask questions about your medical records, such as any current health conditions, prescription drugs, family history, or other relevant information. This is to help them avoid errors and make sure your information is up-to-date.
Your provider’s supporting staff also play a role in improving the patient experience and safety. The entire care team should act professionally, treat you with respect, and be helpful. Poor customer service can lead to poor customer satisfaction, which could affect the outcome of your visit. It’s vital that you feel like your provider is competent and values your business.
Unfortunately, your health care provider does not always know everything that’s going on with your body. Just as your provider must be an excellent communicator, it’s also vital for you to openly communicate with them about your current concerns, past health conditions, family history, medications, dietary supplements, or any other updates. Of course, it’s difficult to remember all of this information at each visit. Before stepping foot in your doctor’s office, create a list of your medical concerns/inquiries to make sure you’re getting the most out of every appointment.
An informed patient is at more of an advantage than an uninformed patient. With an unlimited amount of healthcare information available online, it’s becoming easier to self-educate. If your gynecologist or obstetrician diagnoses you with a health condition, it’s probably a good idea to go home and do some research. The next time you meet with your doctor, you’ll know what questions to ask or what concerns to bring up.
You have to be your advocate. Do your research and find out what your rights are as a patient. Often, people don’t realize that patients have rights, such as the right to know your past and present medical status, informed consent for all treatment and procedures, and doctor-patient confidentiality. If you’re knowledgeable about these topics, then you’re improving your chances of having safe, competent care.
At Women’s Care Florida, we are dedicated to improving the health of women every single day. To live out our promise, our highly-skilled care team always strives to make sure patients are safe and thoroughly cared for when they choose one of our practices. To learn more about how we are working to keep our patients safe, talk to a provider.
We know it’s not always easy for women to take time to care for themselves. However, during National Women’s Health Week, it’s doctor’s orders. We’ve come up with some simple plans to help you get a little “me time,” with some of our favorite healthy self-care checklist items.
Get Up-to-Date on Vaccines
Taking care of your health means taking care of yourself. Many adults forget that vaccines aren’t just for kids. Your immunity as an adult can protect you, your young kids and your senior relatives. Check off the first item in your healthy self-care checklist by scheduling an appointment with your physician. Get a health screening and to get an update on your vaccinations. Your doctor may suggest that you receive:
Most women don’t look forward to their mammograms, but it’s an important screening that could save your life. Breast cancer that is caught in the early stages with screenings has a 99 percent survival rate.
According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, all women between the ages of 50 and 74 should receive a mammogram once every two years. However, some women at high risk of breast cancer should receive their first mammogram at a younger age or may need more frequent mammograms. You might be at high risk if you have a family history of breast cancer. For instance, you have a mother, grandmother, and aunt who have all had breast cancer.
Your annual gynecological exam is a great way to let someone else take care of you. Your gynecologist wants to see you every year to check for signs of health conditions or provide care, including annual preventative exams, reproductive/contraceptive management, and treatment for menopause or other gynecologic conditions. During your exam, you can also ask any and all health questions you might have. Your doctor can help you with a lot of quality of life issues—weight loss, sex, PMS— no topic is out of bounds. Learn more about Women’s Care Florida’s comprehensive gynecological program here.
Reward Yourself for Self-Caring
Once you’ve updated your vaccines, had your yearly mammogram and have seen your gynecologist, think about some other ways you can take care of your body and your mind. Why not try one of these healthy, self-care activities:
A soothing massage to help you release stress, relax tense muscles and treat aches and pains
A night out with some friends for mental-health-boosting social time
Drinking a glass of red wine to improve your heart health
Taking a hot bath to ease aches and pains
A yoga class to lower your stress and ease back pain
Go shopping with friends and walk a lap or two while you’re at the mall
No matter how you choose to celebrate National Women’s Health Week, what’s important is that you remember to take care of yourself and your health. If you aren’t sure how to improve your health or don’t know what preventive care services you need, please schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN or read this article we wrote about why you should take care of yourself this week.
July in Florida means a lot of things: swarms of tourists, afternoon storms and heavy humidity that ruins all hairstyles. However, the sunshine, heat, and humidity also bring along a wealth of health hazards which include types of bacterial infections. While you probably take steps to protect your skin health, are you looking out for your gynecological health, too?
Florida weather can increase your risk for women’s health conditions such as:
Hot temperatures and tight shorts can leave your vagina prone to types of bacterial infections. This damp, warm environment is perfectly suited for bacteria to grow and thrive, increasing your risk for bacterial vaginosis or vaginitis.
Whether you are in an air-conditioned office or out on the beach, you should also get up and move around frequently. Sitting too long can contribute to too-warm temperatures in your vagina.
The hot Florida weather also increases your risk for yeast infections. You can reduce your risk for these itchy, uncomfortable infections with similar strategies to bacterial vaginosis: wear loose cotton clothing and move frequently.
It’s also important that you avoid douching products. Though you may not feel very fresh down there during the summer, douching products can get rid of the bacteria you need, throwing your vagina’s pH levels out of balance. When your pH is out of whack, it can encourage yeast to grow and thrive.
If you feel like you need to freshen up between showers, carry gentle, unscented feminine wipes with you. Only use these wipes the same way you would use toilet paper: wipe from front to back with a gentle motion.
Urinary Tract Infections
One of the top causes of urinary tract infections (UTI) is dehydration. It can happen fast in Florida summers. Without enough fluid intake, bacteria that you would normally get rid of when you use the bathroom ends up staying in your urinary tract, multiplying, and causing bacterial infections.
To lower your risk for a UTI, be sure to drink plenty of water all day long. You will know you are getting enough fluids if your urine is a pale yellow or clear whenever you use the bathroom.
Many women make extra grooming efforts before putting on a bikini in the summer. However, if you shave immediately before heading to the pool or into the ocean, you may be increasing your risk for a skin infection. Right after you shave or wax, your skin is sensitive and your follicles are wide open. This makes it easier for bacteria and other germs to irritate your skin.
Instead, take care of any grooming 24 to 48 hours before you plan to go swimming. Keep the area moisturized to help skin heal quickly.