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Maine health officials are reporting dramatic increases in the sexually transmitted diseases (STD), gonorrhea and syphilis in the last five years.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae/CDC

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, gonorrhea cases increased 191 percent, from 236 cases in 2014 to 686 in 2018 and cases of infectious syphilis increased by 593 percent, from 15 cases in 2014 to 104 cases in 2018.

“STDs can come with a number of serious health consequences including ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and even death,” said Acting Maine CDC Director Nancy Beardsley. “It is important for health care providers to take comprehensive sexual health histories of their patients, and essential that individuals know the facts about STDs and get tested if they believe they are at risk.”

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People who have anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom; individuals with multiple sex partners; individuals with anonymous sex partners; and people having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are at greater risk for acquiring an STD. Anyone at risk should ask their health care provider about getting tested.

Most people infected with STDs will not have any symptoms. Those who do have symptoms may experience a rash, painful urination, bumps, sores, or warts near the infected area, and painless skin lesions. More serious complications can include pelvic inflammatory disease, damage to joints, blindness, cancer, or death. The only way to know if you have an STD is to be tested.