Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or infections (STIs) are passed from one person to another by sexual or genital contact. Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomonas, Herpes, Syphilis, Hepatitis, HIV, HPV, and genital warts are just a few of the more common STIs. Luckily, some are easily cured with medication; others are infections that will be with you the rest of your life.
Who’s at Risk?
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for STIs … no matter what type of sex you’re having (oral, vaginal or anal). About 50% of people will have an STI before their 25th birthday. Sometimes you may not even know you have a STI because symptoms may be silent. Left untreated, STIs can cause complications later including not being able to have children when you’re ready or other infections.
What Should I Watch For?
Always ask your partner when the last time they were tested and their results. Being open with each other is very important in a relationship. If you notice sores or discharge from your partners genitals it’s best to wait and get tested before you have sex with them. Don’t see anything odd? Use a condom anyway, because there are many STIs that you won’t be able to see with the naked eye. Ideally, getting tested together before having sex for the first time with a new partner is the best idea to be sure you are both disease free. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Symptoms you might want to get checked:
- Burning when you pee
- Vaginal discharge that causes itching, burning or a foul smell
- Sores or bumps on your genitals
- Abdominal pain, fever, chills
- Testicular pain in men
- Bleeding after sex or in between periods in women
I Might Have an STD … What Should I Do?
Get tested! It’s really easy to get tested for an STD, and it’s the only way to know if you have an STI. Visit your local health department or doctor’s office to get tested ASAP if you suspect something. Testing can be as easy as leaving a urine (pee) sample; sometimes a blood test is required depending on the infection. Same day results are available for some STIs, and others have to be sent to a lab for testing and take up to a week to come back. Talk to your doctor or nurse for more information.
Worried about going to the doctor? You can always visit the Teen Health Center instead. We do STD and STI testing for free for all teens and youth aged 19 and under. Your visit and results will always be kept confidential! Call the Teen Health Center to make an appointment today: (478) 238-4276
Is a Vaginal Infection an STI?
Nope, not always! There are two common vaginal infections that are not STIs, yeast and bacterial vaginosis (BV). Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungus in the vagina caused by taking antibiotics , washing with scented soaps or wearing pants that may be a little too tight. BV is when too much ‘bad’ bacteria grows in your vagina, changing the normal balance. This can be caused by having sex with a new partner, douching or not using condoms.
Want more information about STIs, their symptoms and how to prevent them? Check out these links: