Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), as they are also known, often have no symptoms. However, if left untreated, there can be serious consequences, such as blindness and other neurological manifestations, infertility, mother-to-child transmission, or birth defects. Clearly, having an untreated STI increases the risk of transmitting the infection to others. Even if you use condoms and practice safer sex, the risk of transmission remains significant.
This is especially true with STIs, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), for which condoms only provide partial protection. Untreated STDs can grow uncontrollably for years in the body and cause the development of potentially serious or fatal diseases. For example, a person with HPV may have cervical or anal cancer, while syphilis can cause blindness, dementia, and damage to the heart or kidneys. STDs can occur without signs or symptoms.
That's why routine exams are essential. Untreated STDs can cause many health complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, and future infertility, among other things. Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, if left untreated, can put both the mother and her baby at risk. These can cause preterm births, fetal deaths and spontaneous abortions, in addition to posing the risk of the disease being transmitted from mother to baby through normal delivery.
In the worst case scenario, these STDs can also be very deadly for the baby. An untreated STD can cause unwanted medical problems in the future, which can even cause life-threatening illnesses. When diagnosed, STDs are usually treatable or manageable, but not all STDs initially cause symptoms. STDs are infections that are transmitted between partners through genital sexual activity, such as vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, or oral sex.
The most common STDs diagnosed are chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV). In addition, you can transmit some STDs to your baby in the womb or during delivery, which can cause serious or fatal complications. In the absence of symptoms, it may be tempting to ignore an STD in the hope that it will go away on its own and decide to take care of it if symptoms worsen. However, in some of the worst cases of STDs, there is no progression of symptoms; the disease could go from asymptomatic to life-threatening with nothing in between.
For example, having open sores in the genital area due to an STD could increase your risk of contracting HIV. Without treatment, STDs can cause serious complications for you and any current or future sexual partner. Because some STDs are asymptomatic at first, the only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested if you're sexually active. Add in the ability to remain dormant and undetected for years, the possibility of spreading the virus regardless of whether you have symptoms or not, and the fact that it's incurable (besides, condoms can't always protect you against it) and it's clear why herpes is the king of STDs.