A Shocking Number of Women Aren't Taking Care of Their Sexual Health—Are You One of Them?

  ·  Casey Gueren  ·  Women'sHealth   ·   Link to Article

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Well this is bad news: More than half of Americans are not getting the recommended sexual healthcare services—including HPV vaccinations, chlamydia screening, and HIV testing, according to new reports by the National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH). No wonder NCSH issued a call-to-action today in an attempt to boost these sad stats. 

It's shocking and unfortunate that more women aren't taking advantage of these services—especially now that they're covered under the Affordable Care Act, says Gale Burstein, M.D., who was involved in the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation for the expansion of routine STD screening. "Only about 50 percent of women between 15-25 are getting a routine chlamydia test," says Burstein. Plus, recent data shows that most eligible women aren't getting the HPV vaccinations, or they're not completing all three doses. "We also know there are many people at risk of HIV infection who are not being tested," says Burstein. 

MORE: How Often Should You Check Your…?  

But here's a terrifying reality check: Nearly 20 million new cases of STDs occur every year in the U.S., according to the CDC. So what can you do about it? First, know what you need to get tested for ask for it. "A lot of people assume they're getting all the services recommended for their age group," says Burstein. But unfortunately, that's not always the case. Experts warn that in most cases, you will not be tested for the full range of STDs, including HIV, unless you specifically ask. "But many people don't feel they have a relationship where they can challenge their provider to make sure they're getting the correct healthcare services—let alone sexual healthcare services," says Burstein. 

MORE: Task Force Recommends HIV Testing For All  

That's why it's even more crucial to be your own patient advocate. NCSH just released a new website that makes it super simple to see which sexual health services are recommended for your age and risk level. These are the services that you should talk to your doctor about at your next visit—especially now that they're covered under most health plans, says Burstein. "We don't blow off our heart or lungs or kidneys," says Burstein. "We can't blow off our reproductive health either." 

MORE: 7 Surprising STD Facts 

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