OTHS warns of sexually transmitted infection increase among students

O’FALLON – In an email sent to parents on Friday, officials at O’Fallon Township High School have alerted them about increased incidents of sexually transmitted infections (STI) among students.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reached out to the school and told officials that there are increased cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in the student population. 

According to the email sent by Superintendent Darcy Benway, the school received statistics showing that there are increases of STI’s across St. Clair County. 

“Unfortunately, people who become infected may not always experience any symptoms of the infection, and then may, themselves, become unaware of the carrier of the infection… If treated timely, many STI’s can be cured. Untreated STI’s can lead to serious health problems,” Benway stated in the email.

The Center for Disease Control states that chlamydia is a common STI that can infect both men and women. The disease can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy, which is pregnancy that occurs outside the womb.

The CDC further states that most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system.

Women with symptoms may notice

  • An abnormal vaginal discharge;
  • A burning sensation when urinating.

Symptoms in men can include

  • A discharge from their penis;
  • A burning sensation when urinating;
  • Pain and swelling in one or both testicles, although this is less common

Gonorrhea is an STI that can also infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. According to the CDC it is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years.

Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, men who do have symptoms, may have:

  • A burning sensation when urinating;
  • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis;
  • Painful or swollen testicles, although this is less common.

Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, even if they don’t have any symptoms.

Symptoms in women can include:

  • Painful or burning sensation when urinating;
  • Increased vaginal discharge;
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods.

In both chlamydia and gonorrhea, the only way to avoid the diseases is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.  However, if an individual is sexually active, the following things can lower the chances of getting chlamydia and gonorrhea:

  • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STI test results;
  • Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.

It is possible for someone who has once had both chlamydia and gonorrhea to get the disease again after it has been previously treated.

The district provided parents with additional information about symptoms, treatments, and prevention of STI’s and asked parents to review them and contact the health offices at either the Smiley or Milburn campuses if they have any questions.