Sexual Health

Sexual Health

Any woman of childbearing years who is sexually active should be concerned about her sexual health and the possibility of pregnancy. Besides pregnancy, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) should also be on a woman’s radar. Each month, a women has three to five days where she could become pregnant, but with each sexual encounter, she has the risk of getting an STD or STI. Some STDs show up for only a short period of time but others are life-long. With over a dozen known STDs, there are 19 million new infections each year. Those who are 15-24 years old are the most at risk. STDs cost the U.S. healthcare system up to 16 billion dollars annually. (Department of Health and Human Services)

What are STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases are the infections passed from one person to another during any type of sexual activity such as vaginal, oral, or anal sex, outercourse, or mutual masturbation.  These infections are often passed along through bodily fluids and from skin-to-skin contact.

Many people have STDs and do not realize it because not everyone exhibits symptoms. Even without any symptoms, one can still pass on STDs and be causing damage to their partner without even knowing it. It is important to get tested regularly. (Department of Health and Human Services)

STDs and STIs… What’s the difference?

STD (sexually transmitted disease) and STI (sexually transmitted infection) do have unique definitions. An “STI” is an infection in the body but you won’t necessarily have symptoms. An “STD” actually causes damage to a person’s body (e.g. infertility). STI is the umbrella term for STDs and STIs. An STI will not necessarily become an STD. (Department of Health and Human Services)

Prevention

Condoms can prevent some STD transmissions but are not a guarantee that an STI won’t spread. Some STIs have vaccinations, but the most effective way to avoid STIs is avoiding sexual activity. Getting tested regularly is recommended as well as talking to a counselor and get a referral to a local doctor if an STD is suspected. Facing the possibility of having an STI can be frightening but know it’s a journey that does not have to be walked alone. (Department of Health and Human Services)

Treatment

There are a host of medicines available to treat STIs but the earlier an STI is diagnosed, typically, the better the outcome will be. Many STIs can be cured and those that cannot, have medications to manage your symptoms. Getting checked for an STI is easy and often noninvasive. Consider getting checked for your own health and safety. (Department of Health and Human Services)

This webpage is not meant to replace counseling and recommendations from a trained medical professional

Emergency Contraception

There are a few brand-name drugs under the umbrella of emergency contraception or the morning-after pill. Plan B and ella are medications used after a woman is concerned she may become pregnant after sex. Understand that emergency contraception is not the abortion pill and their mechanism of action is different. The abortion pill ends an established pregnancy. Emergency contraception works on a woman’s body primarily to prevent conception, or the sperm fertilizing egg and creating a brand-new DNA of a unique human life. However, emergency contraception could cause a very early abortion by not allowing a brand-new human life to implant on the uterine wall.

Plan B One-Step

This medication has a hormone called levonorgestrel, a type of progestin in some oral contraceptive pills. It can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse.  Plan B prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation but could prevent a new pregnancy from implanting into the uterus.

This medication has side effects common to all progestin-containing medications: headache, breast tenderness, abdominal pain, nausea, or dizziness. If a woman misses her period even after she takes Plan B, she could be pregnant from a prior intercourse.  Plan B could increase the likelihood of a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. If a woman has severe abdominal pain she should get an emergency medical evaluation. Plan B can prevent up to 84% of expected pregnancies. (Teva, 2013)

ella

This prescription medication is approved by the FDA to be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. According to known data, it can prevent unexpected pregnancies from 5.5% to 2.2%  ella should only be used once during a woman’s monthly cycle and a woman should ensure she is not pregnant before taking ella. Like, Plan B, ella can prevent ovulation but can also prevent new human life from implanting into the uterus, thus causing an early abortion. It works by blocking progesterone like the abortion pill. (Harrison & Mitroka, 2011) Women who take ella most commonly report nausea, cramps, abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, and fatigue. If a woman has severe abdominal pain three to five weeks after ingesting ella, she should seek medical attention immediately. There is still more research needed to understand this drug’s effects on a woman and her health. (Cerner Multum, Inc., 2015)

Choices Women’s Center seeks to educate you with accurate information about emergency contraception. We do not refer to abortion services or prescribe medication. This information should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice between you and your physician.

Bastian, L. A., & Brown, H. L. (2016, January 4). Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of early pregnancy. (C. Lockwood, Ed.) Retrieved August 2016, from UpToDate.

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Delgado, G. a. (2012, December). Progesterone use to reverse the effects of mifepristone. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 46. doi:10.1345/aph.1R252

Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Healthy people 2020: sexually transmitted diseases. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved August 2016, from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/sexually-transmitted-diseases

Hammond, C. (2015, November 17). Second trimester pregnancy termination: dilation and evacuation. (J. Steinauer, Ed.) Retrieved August 2016, from UpToDate.

Harrison, D. J., & Mitroka, J. G. (2011, January). Defining reality: the potential role of pharmacists in assessing the impact of progesterone receptor modulators and misoprostol in reproductive health. Annals of Pharmachotherapy, 49(1), 115-119. doi:10.1345/aph.1P608

Harwood, B. (2016, June 29). First-trimester medication abortion (termination of pregnancy). (J. Steinauer, Ed.) Retrieved August 2016, from UpToDate.

Steinauer, J. (2016, June 29). Surgical termination of pregnancy: first trimester. (R. Barbieri, Ed.) Retrieved 2016, from UpToDate.

Teva. (2013, November). Plan B One-Step. (c2010-2016) Retrieved August 2016, from Drugs.com: https://www.drugs.com/pro/plan-b-one-step.html

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