You’ve got the tell-tale symptoms: a frequent urge to urinate, an uncomfortable and burning sensation when you do urinate, pelvic pain, cloudy urine… all signs of a urinary tract infection.
You drink cranberry juice and try other natural and homeopathic remedies with no success. After weeks, you still have symptoms, and they are getting worse.
That’s because that urinary tract infection might not be a urinary tract infection.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Several sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection. Not only that, but STDs are far more common than you would believe.
The CDC estimates that there are 20 million new STD infections reported each year. These are people from all walks of life, all economic classes, all social classes, and all ethnic groups. And while 50 percent of all new STDs occur in people aged 15-24, older adults are just as vulnerable.
The Spread of STDs
One of the reasons that STDs spread so easily is that they are hard to detect—many of the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, like urinary tract infections. Other diseases, like the human papillomavirus (HPV), HIV and hepatitis, could have no symptoms at all until the later stages of the disease.
The other reason that STDs spread so easily is the perception that people have of a person with an STD. When we think of STDs we think of certain marginalized groups of the population. In truth, you do not need to be promiscuous, or a drug addict to get an STD.
All you need is to do is have unprotected sex with someone who has the disease. And that means anyone, even that really nice, clean-cut guy in the corner, could have one.
This is why STD testing is so important.
If you have genital symptoms, an STD test can confirm, or rule out, a disease that could cause you other problems later on.
For example, HPV causes cervical cancers and genital warts; untreated trichomoniasis can cause premature births and low birth rates; and untreated chlamydia can cause infertility in women.
If you are starting a relationship with a new partner, preventative STD testing can screen for potential hazards, and protect the both of you.
You can get tested through your personal physician, at a health clinic, or you can order home STD testing kits.
Handling the Results
One thing you must remember is that the presence of an STD is not a reflection on you, or your partner’s character. As I said before, all it takes is one encounter with someone who is infected and, because some STDs have no symptoms for years, that encounter could have happened five days, or five years ago.
If you are in a committed relationship, it could mean that your partner was unfaithful; but it could also mean that he contracted the disease before you got together, and wasn’t aware that he was infected.
Before you jump to any conclusions, talk with your partner and keep an open mind.
Once you learn your disease status, do not attempt to cure the disease with natural or home remedies.
You can use holistic remedies to relieve some of the symptoms, in conjunction with medications to treat the actual disease-causing organisms.
For example, you can apply warm compresses to relieve abdominal pain, or drink lots of water or cranberry juice to relieve painful urination, while taking your medications.
Many STDs, like syphilis and trichomoniasis, are easily treated with antibiotic drugs, which can destroy the flora in your gut.
Eating yogurt will help restore the beneficial bacteria, and prevent many gastro-intestinal problems that can occur with antibiotic use.
Other diseases, like HIV and Herpes, are caused by a virus and there is no cure. However, several drugs can prevent the virus from growing, and slow the rate of progression. Herbal remedies that contain salicylic acid, like white willow bark, can reduce the fever that usually occurs with a viral STD infection.