Sexual Health

Teenage girl discussing birth control pills with gynecologist

At Christiana Care we understand the complexities of women’s sexual health and are dedicated to providing individually tailored advice, testing and treatment for women of all ages in a supporting and discrete environment.

As part of this, our expert medical staff are available for all things surrounding sexual health, including contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

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Contraception

Contraceptive methods play a crucial role in birth control and the lowering the risk of contracting an STD. For women, there are a number of options to consider – all of which we recommend are talked through with a health professional.

There are a range of options available for you, but factors such as age, health and the nature of sexual relationships must be considered. Here are some options – some of which may have side effects, so always consult your caregiver first.

Hormonal methods – Including birth control pills, vaginal rings and contraceptive implants.

Barrier methods – Including male and female condoms, the diaphragm, cervical cap and contraceptive sponge.

Natural family planning – Such as knowing monthly rhythms, basal body temp and cervical mucus methods.

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) – Such as the copper IUD or hormonal IUD.

Sterilization – Such as a tubal ligation or Essure system.

Emergency contraception – Such as the morning-after pill which can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

For more information on these, please get in touch with our expert staff.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

STDs are infectious diseases passed from person to person through sexual contact with millions of new cases happening every year in the US – half of which happen in people between the ages of 15 and 24 years.

Many STDs cause no symptoms at first. Also, many STD symptoms may look like those of other diseases not transmitted through sexual contact. This is especially true in women. Even STDs without symptoms can be spread to other people. Women suffer more severe symptoms from STDs: Some STDs can spread into the womb (uterus) and fallopian tubes and cause PID. This can lead to both infertility and tubal pregnancy. You can protect yourself from getting an STD by using latex condoms, restricting sexual partners, maintaining good hygiene and going for regular tests.

Some of the more common STDs include:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – A virus that can take years to show symptoms, which, depending on the type can cause warts or even increase your risk of developing certain cancers. Pap tests can detect HPV infection, as well as abnormal cervical cell. An HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. It also protects against most genital warts.
  • Chlamydia – The most commonly reported STD in the U.S which can cause abnormal genital discharge and burning with urination. In women, untreated chlamydia may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, many people with chlamydia have few or no symptoms of infection.
  • Gonorrhea – Causes a discharge and painful or difficult urination. The most common and serious complications happen in women. They include PID, tubal pregnancy, and infertility. Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics. Gonorrhea can also be carried in and affect the rectum. Gonorrhea at the time of childbirth can spread to the baby and cause severe eye infection.
  • Genital herpes – Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Symptoms may include painful blisters or open sores in the genital area. The virus stays in the body, and the sores may return from time to time. There is no cure for HSV, but medicine can shorten an outbreak and reduce symptoms.
  • Syphilis – The first symptom of syphilis is a painless open sore that usually shows up on the penis, in the vagina, or on the skin around either sexual organ. Advanced stages include a rash and over time problems with the heart and central nervous system. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. If a pregnant woman has untreated syphilis, the disease can cause dangerous, even fatal, problems for the baby.
  • HIV – A virus that destroys the body’s ability to fight off infection. People who have HIV may not look or feel sick for a long time after infection. But if you are not diagnosed early and treated, you will eventually become very likely to get many life-threatening diseases and certain forms of cancer. HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and through breastfeeding

Other diseases that may be sexually transmitted include Bacterial vaginosis, Chancroid, Cytomegalovirus infections, Granuloma inguinale (donovanosis), Lymphogranuloma venereum, Molluscum contagiosum, Pubic lice, Scabies, Trichomoniasis, Vaginal yeast infections.