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The current numbers are astounding: An estimated 19 million new infections occur annually, and at least 80 percent of women will have a bout with at least one type of down-there bug at some point in their lives.
But while STDs are some of the most commonly diagnosed diseases on the planet, they are also among the most stigmatized and life-altering. What Lies Beneath Let's be honest, most people view themselves that way.
Plus, almost all kinds of STDs have started jumping—via oral sex—into the mouth, where they can spread but are harder to detect, says ob-gyn Catherine Hansen, M. Yet despite all the numbers and hard facts, there is perhaps a bigger match lighting the wildfire-like spread of STDs.
One that makes life after diagnosis way more complex than necessary.
The truth is that the medical reality of an STD often pales in comparison to the emotional fallout, says ob-gyn Melissa Goist, M.
D., an assistant professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Also troublesome are the ever-multiplying wily strains of certain STDs.
There are now more than 100 different types of HPV, for instance, and researchers have ID'd new drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea. H., an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
"Preexisting conditions are given numeric scores by insurance companies and, with the exception of HIV, having an STD could never bump up someone's score enough to prevent coverage," says Chelle Moat, M. HPV and herpes don't typically affect fertility, but an outbreak during pregnancy could hurt the baby and thus requires a C-section.
The images are comically grotesque and send a clear missive: STDs are ghastly and shameful; they are not a normal part of human sexuality.
It's a message that not only sets people up for later emotional turmoil but also increases their risk for infection, says Stamoulis.
For example, most people with genital herpes show no major symptoms, and as a result, they're probably less likely to visit or be screened by their doctors.
And even though testing for chlamydia is easy and accurate, just 38 percent of sexually active young women were screened last year, despite the fact that their tender cervical cells are ultra-vulnerable to infections.