CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise, according to the CDC. The agency reports that cases decreased during the early months of the pandemic, but most resurged by the end of that year.

“Patients were not going for their regular checkups, patients even when they thought they were exposed did not go for treatment, and many patients had what we call like a community barrier in the sense that some affected people reside in communities with no access to health care and did not seek care outside their community,” explained Tosin Goje, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist for Cleveland Clinic.

“And imagine a person who is infected who is not going out, not traveling, there is a tendency to re-infect each other, especially in a small community.”

Dr. Goje said there are many ways to help prevent sexually transmitted infections.

The first step is education. The public needs to understand what exactly they are and the signs and symptoms to look out for. Those can include unusual discharge, itchy genitals, bumps, sores or warts, painful urination and vaginal bleeding that’s not your period.

However, symptoms aren’t always present, which is why regular checkups are so important.

Dr. Goje said if an individual suspects they have a sexually transmitted infection, they really should see their physician. They can assist in treating the issue and preventing any further spread.

“If you think you got exposed to a sexually transmitted infection or you have high-risk behavior, or you can’t remember what you did at a recent party, or you had a condom fail you, or you just feel like you’ve just been exposed, then you should request to be tested,” she advised.

Dr. Goje said the most common sexually transmitted infections they treat are gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and herpes.