Nurse practitioner Heather Harvey provides care to Nurx patients from her home state of Alabama, where she also works for the public health department seeing clients in the office and through a mobile unit in the community. She possesses deep experience in women’s health and infectious disease diagnosis and treatment, so we thought we’d ask her some questions about sexually transmitted infections.
Do most STIs have symptoms?
No — in fact, the most common symptom of an STI is no symptoms!
Why is it important to be tested in multiple parts of the body?
STIs can infect any mucus membrane, and with certain STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea, a urine or vaginal test won’t be able to detect an infection in your throat or rectum. If you use it during sex, you should test it.
What do too few people know about STIs?
People forget that STIs can cause infertility, increased risk of tubal pregnancies, and long term pelvic pain due to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can scar the reproductive organs and in some cases lead to the fallopian tubes or ovaries needing to be removed. And in rare cases, PID can lead to death. I had a 17-year-old patient who nearly died from an undiagnosed gonorrhea infection.
How soon can pelvic inflammatory disease develop?
That depends, it can happen any time during the infection but PID can begin quickly for some women while others can be infected with an STI for a year or more and not develop any complications. But there’s no way to know which way it will go for you, which is why regular testing is so important.
Do you think more people will get STI tests as home testing becomes widely available?
Yes, I think a lot of people are afraid they’ll be judged if they ask for STI tests in a traditional medical office, and home tests take that pressure off.
What do you like about working at Nurx?
I wanted to work for Nurx because of their mission to make getting birth control and PrEP easier. In rural areas, people often have to travel a long distance to see a provider. Getting birth control sometimes requires waiting for more than an hour to see a provider to write a prescription, and many providers are still not comfortable with PrEP. And the Nurx platform is a great option for people who are embarrassed to seek STI testing, because it allows them to be educated, tested, and treated without fear of stigma.
Thinking you should test yourself for STIs? Learn more about the Nurx STI Home Test Kits.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.