Whether because there is a lack of symptoms, embarrassment, or a general fear of the unknown, many people out there simply avoid getting themselves tested for sexually transmitted diseases. The STD rates have literally skyrocketed following the advent of dating apps, while STD screening prevalence has declined. This has already led to around 20 million new STI cases each year. The U.S. spends more than $17 billion on Sexually Transmitted Diseases healthcare costs yearly, but that is the least of any patient’s worries.
In the absence of symptoms, it perhaps is quite tempting to overlook an STD in the hopes that one day it will go away on its own, resolving to take care of it in case the symptoms get worse. Some of the sexually transmitted diseases are asymptomatic; the infection could go from being symptomless to life-threatening with literally nothing in between.
Below are some of the worst-case scenarios with various untreated sexually transmitted diseases you must know about:
Gonorrhea is oftentimes known as ‘The Clap’, an infection which can be transmitted by any of the body’s orifices: vagina, penis, mouth, anus, or eye. The infection normally groups with Chlamydia so dual treatment for both these diseases is highly recommended, even if Chlamydia screening has not been performed. Gonorrhea can be contracted without penetration and even by sharing sex toys. The infection can cause blindness in newborns to mothers with gonorrhea, and babies may even develop blood and joint infections.
- Treating Gonorrhea
Antibiotics help cure gonorrhea infection, however; there are strains of gonorrhea that are becoming antibiotic-resistant, making it turn into a ‘Super Bug’
- Worst Case If Gonorrhea stays Untreated
If Gonorrhea is left untreated, it can cause an increased risk of catching HIV in both men and women. Scarring off the fallopian tubes, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancies, and infertility in women are the most common issues. In men, it may cause scarring of the urethra, inflammation of the prostate and even infertility. It may cause severe joint infections, blindness and potentially fatal blood infections in newborns.
Chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, with more than 1.3 million cases being reported in the year 2013 alone. Of all those cases, nearly 50 percent of the infected men and 70 percent of the women exhibited NO Chlamydia symptoms at all! This makes a lot of people walking around carrying the infection with no symptoms at all. Repeat Chlamydia infection is also very common. Proper use of condoms protects against Chlamydia contraction, and if treated properly, the infection does not lead to any long-term issues.
- Treating Chlamydia
A course of antibiotics can prove quite effective in treating and curing Chlamydia.
- Worst Case If Chlamydia is Left Untreated
If Chlamydia infection stays untreated, it can lead to an increased risk of catching HIV, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), urethritis and/or infertility in men, and miscarriage, infertility or pre-term labor in women. Furthermore, it could lead to pneumonia, lung infections, conjunctivitis, and premature delivery. Ear infections may also occur in newborns to mothers suffering from Chlamydia.
Though HIV perhaps not be the death sentence it once used to be, it still is a very serious and potentially fatal disease, particularly if it stays untreated for long. Studies show that in the United States, an HIV positive individual in their twenties who receives an antiretroviral therapy may expect to live well into their 70s, which is just slightly lower compared to the life expectancy of the HIV-negative population. Antiretroviral therapy is what works here! The longer an HIV positive patient goes without the ART treatment, the cloudier that outlook becomes. Many people who turn out to be HIV positive do not show any symptoms for years, making their unknown condition critical enough.
- Treating HIV
Antiretroviral therapy is useful in treating HIV. Various other vaccines are being tested, but not yet made available.
- Worst Case if HIV is left Untreated
If HIV goes untreated for long, it can lead to severe weight loss, increased risk of heart diseases, stroke, liver or kidney diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, accelerated aging, pneumonia, and even death from AIDS.
Penicillin was introduced as a treatment for syphilis. However, the recovery rate was even less than 1 percent. The initial stage of a syphilis infection, called as the primary stage, brings a painless sore or chancre that appears on the genitals. If it does not get timely treatments, syphilis advances to second that leads to the development of a skin rash, which disappears with or even without treatment. After that, the virus goes symptomless for a certain period of time, which may be up to 20 years, before it progresses into the third stage, called tertiary, approx. 3 to 15 years after the primary infection contracted. At the third stage of syphilis, the infection turns into a life-threatening disease.
These relatively painless and mild symptoms are usually the reason why most of the syphilis infections go untreated until it advances to the point of no return. Nearly one-third of people being diagnosed with syphilis have their infection progress to the last stage.
- Treating Syphilis
Penicillin proves effective in treating syphilis infection during its primary and secondary stages. During the tertiary state, a higher dosage is required. Although the bacteria may get eliminated during any stage, the damage syphilis infection causes in the advanced stages are just irreversible.
- Worst Case If Syphilis goes Untreated
If left untreated, syphilis infection may cause spongy, soft inflammatory balls all over the body, large scores on the skin and even inside the body. It could further cause liver enlargement, internal bleeding, and loss of motor functions, deformations, dementia, aneurysm, seizures, or even death.
Hepatitis B occurs due to a virus which can be sexually transmitted through bodily fluids or blood. Though the prime symptoms of Hepatitis B are flu-like at first, the condition should be taken very seriously as it affects the liver. The symptoms may take around 6 months to show up and the infection generally goes undetected unless it becomes life-threatening.
Getting yourself tested for hepatitis is crucial as there is a vaccine for the virus, which can be administered along with the immune-boosting treatment that helps prevent the development of the infection.
- Treating Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B symptoms can be easily treated, however; there is no cure for it. The virus stays in the body for the lifetime. Nevertheless, more than 90 percent of healthy adults who catch the virus recover naturally from it within the very first year. Vaccination is also available that helps prevent an individual from contracting the hepatitis B virus in the first place.
- Worst Case if Hepatitis B is left Untreated
If hepatitis B goes untreated, it could further cause jaundice, fibrosis, and cirrhosis of the liver, mild to severe liver infection, hepatocellular carcinoma (cancer), liver failure, and even death.
Hepatitis C happens to be the most serious of all hepatitis infections. More than 5 million individuals are currently infected with Hepatitis C in the United States alone. Most hepatitis C patients do not show any symptoms for years until the infection progresses to a severe state. As the symptoms occur at the later stage, they can be quite much similar to other conditions such as flu.
- Treating Hepatitis C
Currently, there is no immunization or vaccine for curing hepatitis C. However, improved treatments are available that can help treat hepatitis C effectively.
- Worst Case if Hepatitis C is left Untreated
If Hepatitis C goes untreated, it can cause jaundice, cancer, cirrhosis, and last-stage of liver disease. Hepatitis C at an advanced stage can also cause sleepiness, confusion, and disorientation due to toxin buildup in the brain due to liver cirrhosis, as well as, heart attack or stroke, type-2 diabetes, kidney failure, thyroid diseases, hypertension, gallstones, and even death.
When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, herpes is the king! This is because 1 out of 6 U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 49 have HSV-2, which mainly causes genital herpes. Of those, it has been estimated that 80 percent of the popular do not even know that they carry the virus along. That is not even considering the population with an HSV-1 infection, which can transmit to your partner’s genitals during oral sex. The infection may lie dormant for many years, the potential to spread the virus whether you show any signs or not, and the fact that it is incurable, clearing shows why it is considered to be the king of STDs.
- Treating Herpes
Antiviral medications are useful in treating herpes. It helps shorten outbreaks and also decrease infectiousness. The medication also helps relieve the symptoms which include tingling, itchiness, and redness.
- Worst Case if Herpes is left Untreated
Herpes is quite unpredictable. Some may experience just one outbreak and the virus may then disappear for years, whereas others experience severe, frequent outbreaks. If an individual experience increased severity and frequency of outbreaks, they must consult their physician about antiviral medication that will be useful in controlling the outbreaks and lessen the severity. Open sores could lead to several other infections, especially in people with a suppressed immune system.