3 Things You Should Know About STDs and Fertility in 2016
Prevention & Treatment These breakthroughs have the potential to reduce unintended pregnancies and STDs that can lead to long-term negative health complications, including HIV/AIDS and cancer.
1. Long acting reversible contraception
According to the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods include the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant. The IUD is placed in the uterus and the implant is placed in the arm. Both methods are highly effective in preventing pregnancy and can be removed any time.
Once placed, the IUD and implant are safe and largely “whoops-proof” for 3-10 years, depending on the method. During the first year of typical use, fewer than 1 in 100 individuals using an IUD or an implant will become pregnant—around the same rate for sterilization. Over the long term, these methods are 20 times more effective than birth control pills, the patch, or the ring but must be used with a condom to prevent the STD transmission. A health care provider must place and remove an IUD or implant in a health center, clinic or doctor’s office. Starting in January, all health plans in California are required to cover the IUD and implant.
2. HPV vaccine
The HPV vaccine can help prevent cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. It is given as a 3-dose vaccine. HPV is a very common virus. Nearly 80 million people—about 1 in 4—are currently infected in the United States. About 14 million people become infected with HPV each year. The HPV infection can lead to certain types of cancers and genital warts in women and men.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. Clinical guidelines also encourage vaccination for young women up to 27-years-old and young men up to 22-years-old. Young men who have sex with other men or who have weakened immune systems can also get the HPV vaccine until they are 27. The best way to remember to get all 3 doses of the vaccine is to make an appointment for the remaining shots before you leave the doctor's office or clinic. The HPV vaccine is widely covered by health insurance and the Vaccines for Children program.
PrEP, an acronym for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is the use of prescription drugs to prevent HIV/AIDS. It is a preventive treatment for people who are HIV negative, but at high risk of contracting HIV. The PrEP drug currently recommended by health experts is Truvada.
The CDC considers PrEP a powerful HIV prevention tool that can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone. People who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every 3 months. Individuals at high risk of HIV should check with a health care provider to take an HIV test and make sure they are good candidates for PrEP.