Having regular and honest medical conversations with your doctor can be critical to your health. Dr. Natasha Bower, an OB/GYN on the medical staff of Lee Health, says it’s especially important for patients to discuss any concerns they may have with sexually transmitted infections. “It’s got to be an open ended conversation between you and your doctor. You need to have that trust factor there to be able to discuss any concerns. The sexually transmitted infections that can be screened for are gonorrhea and chlamydia, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and the human papilloma virus is also a sexually transmitted infection that can be screened for.”
But not every patient receives every screening. “You don’t always screen for everything and it takes that conversation to know if the doctor should go ahead and screen you for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, because those all have different risk factors,” said Dr. Bower.
Other factors for screening sexually transmitted infections are age and risk factors. Women who are 25 years old or younger have an increased risk of gonorrhea and chlamydia. Both typically show no symptoms, so doctors recommend women be tested annually for both. “Many things don’t have any symptoms immediately and that’s why if you have been engaged in a high risk behavior your physician may want to screen you with that,” said Dr. Bower.
Doctors say living undiagnosed or untreated can cause lifelong health problems. “The problem with gonorrhea or chlamydia, which is the most common transmitted infections in the United States, is women who get exposed to them and obtain it, if they go untreated they can results in chronic pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and those are disastrous for them later on sometimes,” said Dr. Bower.
Making it important to communicate any lifestyle changes or risk factors to your physician.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.