Facts About Sexually Transmitted Infections
What You Need to Know to Protect You and Your Family
What Are STIs?
How Are STIs Transmitted?
How Can STIs Be Prevented?
Symptoms of STIs
When to See a Doctor Right Away
- Abnormal or smelly discharges, pus, or odors from the vagina, penis, or rectum
- Boils, blisters, chancres, polyps, growths, sores, or warts
- Burning sensations
- Irritation, tenderness, swelling, rashes, itching
- Painful intercourse or other pains
- Vaginal yeast infections , cervicitis (swelling of the cervix), urine changes
- After sexual contact with someone who has a known STI
Other Possible Symptoms of an STI
- Weight loss that is constant, rapid, or unexplained
- Coatings of the mouth, throat, or vagina
- Abdominal pain, muscular pain, aching joints, general weakness, feeling tired
- Coughs, chills, night sweats, or fevers
- Bowel problems, diarrhea , vomiting, appetite loss, nausea
- Vaginal pain
- Headaches, lightheadedness, vision loss, hearing loss, mental disorders
- Discolored skin, hair loss, jaundice
- Swollen glands, sore throat , fatigue
Some Common STIs
- Treatment—Antimicrobial creams are applied to the vagina or antibiotic pills taken by mouth.
- Protection—Use condoms during sex.
- Treatment—Both partners can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
- Protection—Use condoms during sex.
- Treatment—There is no cure, but symptoms may be helped with some medicines. Vaccines are being researched.
- Protection—Condoms can provide protection against CMV during vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse. But, kissing and other intimate touching can spread the virus.
- Treatment—Both partners can be treated successfully with antibiotics. People with gonorrhea often have other STIs, like chlamydia. Infections are treated at the same time.
- Protection—Condoms offer very good protection against gonorrhea.
Hepatitis B Virus
- Treatment—There is no cure, but in most cases the infection clears within 4-8 weeks. If a chronic infection develops, treatments are available for suppressing the virus. But, some people remain contagious for the rest of their lives.
- Protection—Condoms offer some protection against HBV during vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse. But, the virus can be passed through kissing and other intimate touching. Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent this disease.
Herpes Simplex Virus
- Treatment—There is no cure but symptoms and recurrences can be treated with medicines.
- Protection—Use condoms to help prevent the spread of genital herpes.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus
- Treatment—There is no cure. But, HIV and many AIDS-related conditions can be managed to some extent with a variety of treatments. AIDS is no longer fatal to everyone who has it.
- Protection—Condoms offer very good protection against HIV.
Human Papilloma Virus
- Treatment—There is no cure for HPV. But, genital warts can be treated or removed in a number of ways including: medicine and procedures like cryosurgery (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen).
- Protection—Condoms may offer some protection against genital HPVs. But, the viruses may "shed" beyond the area protected by a condom. There is also an HPV vaccine for both males and females.
- Treatment—Growths may be removed with chemicals, electrical current, or freezing.
- Protection—Condoms may offer some protection against Molluscum contagiosum , but the virus may "shed" beyond the area protected by the condom.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Treatment—Antibiotics are given.
- Protection—Condoms offer very good protection against infections commonly associated with PID.
- Treatment —Over-the-counter medicine is available to treat anyone who may have been exposed to pubic lice. All bedding, towels, and clothing that may have been exposed should be thoroughly washed or dry cleaned, and the home should be vacuumed.
- Protection —Limiting the number of intimate and sexual contacts can help.
- Treatment—Over-the-counter medicine is available to treat anyone who may have been exposed to scabies. All bedding, towels, and clothing that may have been exposed should be thoroughly washed or dry cleaned, and the home should be vacuumed.
- Protection—Limiting the number of intimate and sexual contacts can help. Also, avoid close physical contact or sharing clothing, towels, or bedding with anyone who has either scabies or an undiagnosed itchy rash—especially a rash that has been present for over a week.
- Treatment—Antibiotics are successful for both partners. But, damage caused by the disease in the later phases cannot be undone.
- Protection—Condoms offer good protection during vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse.
- Treatment—Antibiotics are successful for both men and women.
- Protection—Condoms offer good protection.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/std/
Planned Parenthood Federation of America http://www.plannedparenthood.org/
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada http://www.sieccan.org/
Alan R. Genital herpes. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated April 6, 2010. Accessed July 9, 2010.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/ .
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
Epigee. Having sex during your period: Q&A. Epigee website. Available at: http://www.epigee.org/menstruation/sex.html . Accessed July 9, 2010.
Genital herpes and your baby. Pregnancy Info.net website. Available at: http://www.pregnancy-info.net/stds%5Fherpes%5Fpregnancy.html . Accessed July 9, 2010.
Komaroff AL. Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster; 1999.
Ronco G, Segnan N, Giorgi-Rossi P, et al, for the New Technologies for Cervical Cancer Working Group. Human papillomavirus testing and liquid-based cytology: results at recruitment from the new technologies for cervical cancer randomized controlled trial. J Natl Cancer Inst . 2006;98:765-774.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 03/2011 -
- Update Date: 03/01/2011 -