Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are often not discussed, tested for or treated adequately. This is important because 50% of people become infected with the HPV (human papilloma virus) and 25% of people become infected with other STIs. HIV (human immune-deficient virus) infections are increasing in senior citizens because of high divorce rates and lack of safe sex precautions. The Center for Disease Control recommends STIs testing annually in teenagers, adults and senior citizens. I divide the STIs into major and “common” categories and we commonly find and treat these infections in my patients.
The major STIs are easily tested for in blood and urine samples and should be part of a routine annual physical. All are treatable to prevent complications and spread to others:
- Gonorrhea – often seen with “pelvic” problems
- Chlamydia trachomatis – commonly misdiagnosed as bladder infections, candida, yeast or fungal infection
- Herpes type 1 & 2 – same pattern and commonly causes vague symptoms from below the belly button to above the knees
The “common” STIs require explanations. Common viral infections are carried in the saliva glands (and spread by kissing), harbored in sexual fluids and are spread without knowing it. You can find information about these treatable infections (and herpes) on my website. These are diagnosed with specialized blood tests. These will not respond to standard treatments but fortunately we have alternatives:
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – which may cause a lot of problems, especially chronic fatigue
- Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) – which may cause a lot of problems, especially fibromyalgia
- Herpes Type 6 – which often causes neurological problems
The “common” bacterial STI’s requires explanations and are diagnosed with specialized blood, urine or swab tests. These are shared by close contact (like the common cold or flu) via coughing, sneezing, insufficient hand-washing or via sexual routes and not commonly treated adequately. These partially respond to standard antibacterial drugs, but relapse, often with changing symptoms.
- Mycoplasma – multiple strains including m. hominis and m. genitalis, both common causes of urinary infections, gynecological problems, prostate and testicular infections
- Ureaplasma – same pattern
- Bacterial vaginosis – commonly misdiagnosed as “yeast” infection
In my experience, women are more likely to have symptoms, such as menstrual problems, infertility, miscarriages, “bladder infections”, “yeast infections” and other problems that do not clear up until treated. Men are more likely to carry the infection with no symptoms or minimal symptoms so mild they do not report them or do not recognize them as infections and may include prostate problems, testicular symptoms or groin problems.
Why are these so prevalent? Because of the sexual revolution. Anyone with three or more sexual partners in their lifetime or a partner with three or more sexual partners is at risk. When was the last time your practitioner asked this question?
What should you do about these? Practice safe sex and get tested annually and thoroughly and then treated. Remember, standard anti-bacterial and drugs or anti-fungal treatments will not work for STIs. In my practice, we use better treatments.
Here’s a good example. A woman came in needing refills of sex hormone prescriptions. Her prior Pap test showed bacterial vaginosis. She was not informed or treated for this common infection. We retested and found this infection still present, along with Chlamydia trachomatis. She had seen her gynecologist for bladder infection symptoms and then vaginal discharge, but somehow these infections were overlooked. We treated her to prevent problems and retested to prove her infections were cured. We also provided testing and treatment to her partner to prevent reinfection.
About The Author:
David Overton, PA-C works at Natural Medicines & Family Practice combining conventional and alternative treatments under the supervision of Dr. Richard Faiola, MD, ABFM. Call 360-357-8054 for an appointment or information