What is a STD?
A STD (sexually transmitted disease) is an infection that is passed during sex.
STDs Are Serious
- Some STDs infect only your sexual and reproductive organs. Others (HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis) cause general body infections.
- Sometimes you can have a STD with no signs or symptoms. Or the symptoms may go away. Either way, you still have the STD until you get treated.
How STDs are Spread
- STDs are spread during vaginal, anal and oral sex, and sometimes by genital touching.
- Some STDs (HIV and hepatitis B) are also spread by contact with infected blood.
- STD germs need to live in warm, moist areas. That's why they infect the mouth, rectum and sex organs (vagina, vulva, penis and testes).
What To Do
- Don't just hope the STD will go away. It won't!
- Most county health departments have special STD clinics. Private healthcare providers also treat STDs.
- If you don't know where to get help, call your local family planning clinic for information. Your case will be kept private.
- You may feel embarrassed about having a STD. It may be hard for you to go to a provider or clinic for help. But you must get treatment for the STD. This is the only way to get well.
- Many STDs can be cured. Others cannot be cured. All STDs can and must be treated.
- Many STDs can be treated with antibiotics. Do exactly what your provider tells you. Be sure to use ALL of your medicine.
- You also must tell your sexual partner(s). If they aren't treated, they can get sick. They can spread the STD. They might even give it to you again!
- Not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from STD. Having sex with only one uninfected partner who only has sex with you is also safe.
If You Have Sex
- Use latex condoms with a water-based lubricant every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. Condoms will protect you from STDs most of the time.
- Use plastic (polyurethane) condoms if you are allergic to latex. These come in both male and female styles.
- Talk to your partner about past sex partners and about needle drug use. Don't have sex with someone who you think may have a STD.
- Look closely at your partner for any signs of STDs - a rash, a sore or discharge. If you see anything you're worried about, don't have sex!
- Get checked for STDs regularly. Ask your health care provider to help you decide how often and which tests you should have.
- Vaccines can help protect you against hepatitis B and some types of HPV. Ask your provider if they are right for you.
- Know the signs and symptoms of STDs. If you notice a symptom that worries you, get checked.
If You Have a STD
- Tell your sex partner(s). Your partner must get tested and treated too. Otherwise he or she could give the STD to someone else or back to you.
- Wait to have sex. Ask your provider how long after treatment you must wait.
Talk with your partner about how you'll protect yourselves from STD.
What to Watch For
Many people have a STD with no symptoms. If you have symptoms, you may notice any of these things.
- An unusual discharge or smell from your vagina.
- Pain in your pelvic area - the area between your belly button and sex organs.
- Burning or itching around your vagina.
- Bleeding from your vagina that is not your regular period.
- Pain deep inside your vagina when you have sex.
- A drip or discharge from your penis.
Women and Men
- Sores, bumps or blisters near your sex organs, rectum or mouth.
- Burning and pain when you urinate (pee) or have a bowel movement.
- Need to urinate often.
- Itching around your sex organs.
- A swelling or redness in your throat.
- Flu-like feelings, with fever, chills and aches.
- Swelling in your groin - the area around your sex organs
If you have any symptoms, stop having sex. Go to a doctor or STD clinic. Get checked now! Don't put it off.
Diseases & Related Conditions:
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
- Hepatitis, Viral
- Herpes, Genital
- HIV/AIDS & STDs
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)