Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette

STI and other infections

Sexually Transmitted INFECTIONS (STIs)

Also known as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Knowledge is the first step. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections passed from one person to another during sexual or intimate skin contact. There are many kinds of STIs and more than half of all of us will get one at some point in our lives. The good news is that many can be treated and practicing safer sex can reduce your risk.

Reducing your Risk

If you are sexually active or plan to be, take precautions to reduce your risk of getting an STI.


Get Tested

  • Get tested for STIs before having sex with any new partner — many STIs have no symptoms.
  • Ask that a new partner get tested for STIs before having sex.
  • If you have an STI, get and take all prescribed treatments; many STIs can be cured.


Talk with your partner before having sex

  •  Discuss STI prevention with your partner.
  •  Talk about your sexual past and any potential risk behaviors.
  •  Discuss using a condom and other birth control.


When you have sex, take the necessary precautions

  • Use condoms or a dental dam every time you have oral, genital, or anal sex to help prevent STIs.
  • Use water or silicone-based lubricant with condoms to help prevent condoms from breaking and reduce irritation.
  • Check your own and your partner’s genitals for rash, sores, bumps, or discharge before sexual contact.
  • Wash genitals and hands before and after sexual contact.
  • Prevent Hepatitis B and HPV by getting a vaccine from your medical provider.
  • Use a birth control method to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Risk behaviors to avoid

  • Use of alcohol or drugs in risky sexual situations
  • IV drug use and sharing needles or sexual contact with IV drug users
  • Sexual, blood, or body fluid contact with a person who has HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C
  • Having sex with someone who has genital discharge, warts, or sores
  • Having sex with many partners, someone you don’t know, someone who exchanges sex for money or drugs, or someone who has sex with many partners
  • Oral or anal sex without a condom or dental dam to prevent infections
  • Oral sex whenever there are sores in the mouth or bleeding gums
  • Douching (squirting liquids into the vagina for cleaning or rinsing)

Getting Tested

When should i get tested?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • Annual chlamydia screening of all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection
  • Annual gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Syphilis, HIV, chlamydia, and hepatitis B screening for all pregnant women, and gonorrhea screening for at-risk pregnant women starting early in pregnancy, with repeat testing as needed, to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
  • Screening at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3-to-6 month intervals).
  • Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).


Any time you have symptoms of an STI or 2–4 weeks after potential exposure to an STI

  • If there is any chance you may have an STI, get tested. Remember, many STIs have no symptoms.
  • The presence of one STI may increase your risk of acquiring another STI. If you test positive for any one STI, get a full STI screen to be sure.
  • HIV may take longer to register on a test.
    If your HIV test is negative 2–4 weeks after potential exposure, you should get retested in 3–6 months to be sure.
  • The CDC now recommends that everyone age 13–64 get tested once for HIV. If you engage in high risk behaviors (men who have sex with men, and their partners; self or partner IV drug use; trading sex for money or goods; anonymous partners without condom use) you should get screened at least once each year.

Chlamydia - bacteria

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual chlamydia screening of all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.

Screening at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3-to-6 month intervals).

Symptoms

75% of infected women and 50% of infected men have no symptoms.

Women: May have discharge or bleeding after intercourse, burning with urination.

Men: May have pain and burning with urination, discharge from penis.

Symptom Onset

7 – 21 days

Treatment

Antibiotics

Complications

Women: May cause pelvic inflammatory disease, sterility, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain.

Men: May cause sterility, epididymitis (testicular inflammation).

 

Gonorrhea - bacteria

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.

Screening at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3-to-6 month intervals).

Symptoms 

80% of infected women and 10% of infected men have no symptoms. Women may have vaginal discharge, painful urination or intercourse, pelvic pain, menstrual irregularities.

Men may have pain and burning with urination, discharge from penis, painful or swollen testicles.

Symptom Onset

2 – 30 days

Treatment

Antibiotics

Complications

Women: May cause pelvic in ammatory disease, sterility, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain.

Men: May cause sterility, epididymitis.

 

Genital Warts (caused by certain types of HPV) - virus


Symptoms

Wart-like skin growths on genital, rectal area. It is possible to carry the virus with no visible symptoms.

Symptom Onset

6 weeks – 6 months, sometimes years

Treatment

HPV vaccine may prevent 90% of genital warts. Warts can be removed by various treatments, such as medications, freezing, chemical gels or surgery.

Complications

Virus is still present in the body even after warts are removed and may be transmitted through intimate skin to skin contact.

 

Hepatitis B & C - virus

Symptoms 

About 50-80% of infected people do not have symptoms. Symptoms may include yellow skin and eyes, dark brown urine, tiredness, nausea, headache, abdominal pain.

Symptom Onset

2 – 6 months

Treatment

No cure. Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent infection. Currently, there is no Hepatitis C vaccine. Treatment may manage symptoms.

Complications

Severe cases may cause liver disease, liver cancer, or death.

 

Herpes (HSV I & HSV II) - virus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend routine screening except for individuals with high risk behaviors.


Symptoms 

Painful sores or blisters appearing on genitals or mouth. May be accompanied by u-like symptoms. 90% of infected individuals do not recognize symptoms.

Symptom Onset

2 – 20 days, or much later

Treatment

No cure, but medications can help manage infection.

Complications

After initial infection, outbreaks may occur throughout lifetime. Virus can be spread without symptoms, or between outbreaks. 

 

HIV/AIDS - virus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.

Symptoms 

Weight loss, flu-like symptoms, fever, recurrent infections, severe fatigue.

Symptom Onset 

1 month – 10 years

Treatment 

No cure, but medications can slow disease.

Complications

Medications can prolong life, but disease can lead to death. Early detection permits early intervention and can prolong life.

 

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - virus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends screening as indicated.


Symptoms 

There are more than 100 types of HPV. Some types produce genital warts, and some types produce cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer. HPV can be detected through cervical testing with your Pap test.
Most HPV infections resolve without treatment in women under 25.

Symptom Onset 

Varies

Treatment 

HPV vaccine may protect from cervical cancer and genital warts. Vaccine recommended for girls/women under age 9 to 26 before sexually active. With persistent HPV, colposcopy (vaginal/cervix exam) and/or LEEP procedure (treatment to remove abnormal cervix cells) may be offered.

Complications 

High-risk HPV types can cause cervical cancer and pre-cancerous changes, which can be detected on a Pap test. Some types may cause genital warts.

 

Pubic Lice - insect parasite

Symptoms 

Itching in genital area; nits or egg sacs on pubic hair, but may be found on other body hair, such as hair on legs, armpit, moustache, beard, eyebrows, and lashes.

Symptom Onset 

21 – 30 days

Treatment

Medicated shampoos / lotions.
Wash all bedding and clothes in hot water.

Complications

Some people may have allergic reaction to insect bites.

 

Syphilis - bacteria

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends testing as indicated for women.

Screening at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3-to-6 month intervals).

Symptoms

Stage 1: A painless sore called a chancre typically appears on or near genitals or anus.

Stage 2: A rash, often on palms of hands and soles of feet, usually several months after first stage.

Stage 3: If not treated, serious damage to the nervous system, heart, brain, or other organs, and death may result 1-20 years after infection.

Symptom Onset 

10 – 90 days

Treatment 

Antibiotics

Complications 

If untreated, may cause brain damage, paralysis, heart disease, and even death. Can be spread to fetus during pregnancy and may cause serious birth defects.

 

Trichomonas Vaginalis (vaginitis) - protozoan

Symptoms 

Women: Foul-smelling or green vaginal discharge, itching or burning, painful intercourse, frequent urge to urinate. May have no symptoms.

Men: Most men do not have symptoms.

Symptom Onset

Up to 6 months

Treatment 

Antibiotics

Complications 

Urinary tract infection. May increase risk of acquiring another STD.

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