Sexually transmitted infections are fairly common and can have devastating consequences. You can have an infection with chlamydia and not even be aware of it. Chlamydia can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes that can result in infertility, so it’s important to be screened and treated before damage can occur. There are emerging strains of gonorrhea that are resistant to all antibiotics. Given the serious consequences of these infections, it is critical to use condoms in any new relationship until both you andyour partner have been screened. Screening can easily be done with a Pap smear specimen or a urine specimen. Your health is important: make sure your partner gets tested too!
Cervical cancer is due to sexual transmission of high-risk strains of human papilloma virus (HPV). The HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is highly effective in preventing infection with the four most common high-risk strains of HPV, and it prevents 90% of cases of cervical cancer. It’s possible to have received the vaccine, though, and still develop cervical pre-cancer or cancer since there are about a dozen high-risk HPV strains. The Gardasil 9 vaccine is now available, and it protects against nine strains of HPV.
Complete screening for sexually transmitted infections includes testing for hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis. Baby boomers should also be screened for hepatitis C.
Chapel Hill Gynecology offers confidential screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Testing can easily be done at the time of an annual examination, or a separate office visit can be scheduled if needed. Test results are communicated directly to you via the secure web portal as soon as they are available.