SDC Pourmasiha Spring Break STD hero


Spring Break STDs Keep Local Urgent Care Centers Busy

Along with an influx of sun-and-fun-seeking students from colleges around the country, Spring Break also brings a rise in sexually transmitted diseases, says a doctor with Baptist Health Urgent Care.


According to Ladan Pourmasiha, D.O., a family medicine physician with Baptist Health and medical director for the health system’s Urgent Care centers in Broward County, the list of STDs people commonly seek treatment for ranges from herpes and genital warts to gonorrhea, chlamydia and primary or early-stage syphilis. “We’re treating a lot of Chlamydia cases right now,” she says. “We’re also seeing a number of patients with Syphilis and Gonorrhea.”


Dr Ladan

Ladan Pourmasiha, D.O., family medicine physician with Baptist Health and medical director for the health system’s Urgent Care centers in Broward County



These diseases, also known as STDs, can be passed from one person to another through vaginal, oral or anal sex, Dr. Pourmasiha says. Some can lurk in the body for weeks or months before symptoms become noticeable, which is why public health officials emphasize the importance of minimizing your risks by using condoms, avoiding risky behavior and making sure you and your partner get screened for STDs.


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 percent of Americans have an STD, and more than 26 million new cases are diagnosed every year. That number may be low, Dr. Pourmasiha says, as many people with STDs fail to seek care out of ignorance, embarrassment or shame. Also, many STDs are never detected because people often have no symptoms.


In addition, Dr. Pourmasiha says, it’s not uncommon for female patients to mistake STD symptoms for yeast infections or urinary tract infections, or for men to mistake STD symptoms for folliculitis or jock itch.


STDS more common in younger people

STDs can affect individuals of all ages but they are especially common in young people. People who have compromised immune systems can get infected more easily, Dr. Pourmasiha adds.


The CDC estimates that youth ages 15 to 24 account for almost half of all new sexually transmitted infections in the country. With so many Spring Breakers across the country falling into this demographic, it’s easy to see why urgent care centers in South Florida treat more patients with STDs this time of year.


Chlamydia is very common and can cause infection among both men and women, according to the CDC. Dr. Pourmasiha says that it can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant later. “It can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy in which the fetus develops outside the womb,” she says.


Like other STDs, Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics, Dr. Pourmasiha says. “We’re noticing an increased resistance to Azithromycin, the antibiotic typically prescribed for Chlamydia, so we’re giving patients Doxycycline, from a class of medications called tetracycline antibiotics,” she says.


Testing and treatment for STDs

Syphilis infection develops in stages, according to the CDC, and each stage can have different signs and symptoms. During the primary stage, the patient may notice a single sore or multiple sores. Sores are typically firm, round, and painless and usually occur in, on or around the penis, vagina, anus, rectum, lips or in the mouth, the CDC says. Left untreated, Syphilis can lead to serious and chronic health problems, Dr. Pourmasiha says.


Gonorrhea can cause infection in the genitals, rectum and throat and it can be passed from mother to baby during childbirth, according to Dr. Pourmasiha, who notes that some forms of Gonorrhea are becoming harder to treat as drug-resistant strains of Gonorrhea are on the rise.


“In our Urgent Cares, we’re able to treat you for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia onsite with an injection of Rocephin,” says Dr. Pourmasiha. “Then we prescribe Doxycycline, which you can take at home.” That medication is available for purchase onsite at Baptist Health Urgent Care locations using Rx Now, she says. “There’s no need for patients to make a separate trip to the pharmacy after they’ve been diagnosed here.”


Dr. Pourmasiha advises seeing a healthcare provider as soon as possible for STD testing if you have an unprotected sexual encounter or develop unexplained genitourinary symptoms. “These might include genital lesions, burning with urination or an unusual vaginal or penile discharge,” she says, adding that urethritis, or inflammation of the urethra, can be a painful symptom associated with some STDs.


When someone tests positive for an STD, they usually want physicians to prescribe antibiotics for their partner as well, Dr. Pourmasiha says, but that’s not a good idea. “It’s important that your partner be tested as well so that they can be evaluated and the physician can check their medical history before prescribing any medications,” she says.


STD patients are encouraged to follow up with health department or primary care physicians for a full STD panel screening, Dr. Pourmasiha says. “And whenever someone has Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, we recommend that they get retested three to four weeks after initiating antibiotic treatment.”


Dr. Pourmasiha says that doctors at Baptist Health Urgent Care centers have the ability to accurately diagnose and treat a variety of STDs. “If you do test positive for an STD, the good news is that they’re all treatable with medication and some are completely curable,” she says.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 13 hospitals, more than 23,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 100 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.