Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), which was formally known as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD), are definitely a cause for worry. But there are things you can do to protect yourself and avoid getting an STI. And the first thing is to know what they are.
1 in 4 Americans between the ages of 15 and 55 will catch at least one sexually transmitted infection.
What if you already have an STI? Or think you might have one? The best you can do is learn about it and go to your doctor. None of the advice should substitute medical advice, it’s just here to try to guide you and help you. A lot of people don’t go to the doctor because they are too embarrassed. My advice? The doctors have seen far worse, so you have nothing to be embarrassed about.
A lot of people who have STIs do not have symptoms at all. Or they might have a slight fever and figure it’s something else. Or some people are carriers of the disease, which means they can pass it on and they themselves might be unharmed. Just because your partner does not show any physical symptoms doesn’t mean they don’t have anything.
How can I protect myself from STIs?
The simple answer is don’t have sex. But that’s not what you wanted to hear. Always always use protection. It has to be a barrier method, like a condom or a female condom. Other birth control methods will not protect you. STIs are passed from contact with the genitals and the exchange of fluids.
When you get a new partner, both of you should be tested. But be careful they don’t always test for things that would normally have symptoms if you don’t have any. And always try to remain in a monogamous relationship, it’s safer for both of you.
See the birth control section for more details on protection.
The STIs You Need to Know!
What is Candidiasis?
Candidiasis is a yeast infection. It is caused by a fungus that is normally in the mouth, intestines and the vagina. When the body can not control the growth of the fungus, then an overgrowth will occur. a yeast infection is the result. This is included in the STI section because it can be passed on to a partner, normally through oral sex but it is possible to get it from unprotected sex. Men can get yeast infections in their mouths and penis. If you get the infection in your mouth it is called thrush.
What are the symptoms of Candidiasis?
The symptoms of Candidiasis are a thick, white vaginal discharge. Itching or irritation of the vulva (or penis or testicles), a yeasty odor and sometimes a bloated feeling in the bowels.
How Do I get rid of Candidiasis?
There are many over the counter products that are suitable for this. There are pills and creams that will relieve the itching. You can also go to the doctor for a prescription if it doesn’t go away after a few days of self medication.
What is Chancroid?
Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Haemophylus ducreyi. Basically it starts as a pimple and can grow into an ulcer, if untreated the genital area would need to be amputated. This ulcer is very painful, more so in men, and isn’t very common in North America.
What are the symptoms of Chancroid?
It starts with a small pimple on the penis, labia or cervix. It will swell into a painful ulcer, in untreated. It will then swell the lymph glands that try to drain the ulcer. A fever is very common.
How Do I get rid of Chancroid?
This can be easily treated with antibiotics, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Do not wait, the longer you wait, the worse it gets.
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs. This infection will cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, sterility, ectopic pregnancy or chronic pelvic pain in women. In men it causes epidiymis, which causes painful swelling of the testicles.
What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?
There are often no symptoms in women. Men however will experience painful urination and pus coming from the urethra. Symptoms will usually start a few days after exposure.
How Do I get rid of Chlamydia?
Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics or tetracycline. It’s difficult to diagnose because of the lack of symptoms. If you are diagnosed and given medication, make sure you take all of the medication as prescribed, you can get it again if you don’t.
What is Cytomealovirus (CMV)?
CMV is a rare disease. It can be passed through close contact, blood transfusions and shared needles.
What are the symptoms of Cytomegalovirus?
There are no symptoms of CMV for men or women. If a woman is pregnant she can pass it along to the child, and the child will have severe effects.
How Do I get rid of Cytomegalovirus?
There is no known treatment or cure, but it can be diagnosed through blood tests.
What are Genital Warts?
Genital warts are very common, they are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). They are spread through vaginal, anal and oral intercourse. This can also be passed on to babies during childbirth. There are more than 100 kinds of HPV.
What are the symptoms of Genital Warts?
Sometimes the warts are not visible. They are soft and flat, and grow on the genitals, urethra, vagina, anus or throat. The warts often itch and can grow quite large.
How Do I get rid of Genital Warts?
They can be treated in many ways, there are creams, which is easiest. If the warts are larger they can be surgically removed, freezing by liquid nitrogen or cauterization by electric needles. However these are not cures and the warts often come back.
What is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is the second most common STI. Gonorrhea can cause sterility, arthritis, heart problems and problems with the central nervous system. Gonorrhea can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women, which can lead to ectopic pregnancy or sterility.
What are the symptoms of Gonorrhea?
Women will often have green or yellow-green discharge from the vagina. Frequent urination, often it burns; pelvic pain, swelling or tenderness of the vulva and arthritis like pain in the shoulders. Men may experience pain during urination or a pus like discharge from the urethra.
How Do I get rid of Gonorrhea?
You can get a prescription from your doctor for penicillin. If that doesn’t work they have a drug called ceftriaxone that you can use.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is more contagious then HIV, you can get it from close contact, sexual contact, sharing toothbrushes or needles. Hepatitis B can cause severe liver disease or death.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?
There are no symptoms for Hepatitis B.
How Do I get rid of Hepatitis B?
There is no treatment or cure, but you can be vaccinated to prevent getting it. The body can cause the disease to fade away on its own, but don’t count on it.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). There is herpes-1 and herpes-2. Herpes-1 is often associated with cold sores and fever blisters, above the waist.
What are the symptoms of Herpes?
The most common symptoms are a rash with clusters of white, blistery sores, around the vagina, cervix, mouth, anus, penis or any other body part. This can cause pain, itching, burning sensations, fever, headache, swollen glands and feeling run down. The symptoms can return at any time. Herpes can cause miscarriage or stillbirth and be passed on to newborns.
How Do I get rid of Herpes?
Herpes is incurable. Always use a condom if you have this disease, although that doesn’t guarantee that it can’t be passed on. If you even suspect you might have Herpes, go to your doctor immediately. Herpes Help Because having an STD does Not define You!
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS
What is HIV?
HIV is passed through sexual activity and shared needles, blood transfusions and can be passed to a woman’s fetus or baby during breastfeeding. HIV weakens the immune system, which causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
What are the symptoms of HIV?
A person can be infected and might not show signs for up to ten years. Common symptoms are often missed as the don’t seem to be sexual. High fever, swollen glands, night sweats, etc.
How Do I get rid of HIV?
You can’t get rid of HIV, there is no cure.
What is AIDS?
AIDS are linked to the infections by HIV. It poses a risk to all people, not just homosexuals. AIDS develops a variety of problems that attack the body and lead to death.
How Do I get rid of AIDS?
You can’t ever get rid of AIDS, there is no cure. It is a deadly disease and there is no vaccine against it.
What is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum Contagiosum can be spread through intimate contact and sexual intercourse.
What are the symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum?
Small, pinkish-white, waxy looking polyp-like growths in the genital areas or thighs.
How Do I get rid of Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum Contagiosum can be removed with chemicals, electric current or freezing.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a genital infection in women that has spread deep to the reproductive organs, including the fallopian tubes, uterus or the structures around the ovaries. It isn’t an actual STI, but it is the consequence of certain STIs.
What are the symptoms of PID?
Symptoms are fever, chills, pain in the lower abdomen, nausea, vomiting, pain during intercourse, spotting and pain between menstrual periods or during urination, heavy discharge or blood clots during menstruation, long and painful periods and unusual vaginal discharge.
How Do I get rid of PID?
Bed rest and antibiotics are the treatment for PID. You have to refrain from sexual activities. Surgery may be needed to remove scar tissue or abscesses or remove damaged organs. It can lead to sterility, ectopic pregnancy or chronic pain if untreated.
What are Pubic Lice?
Pubic Lice, or crabs are little bugs, that are spread through contact, either with a person or infected bedding, clothing and toilet seats.
What are the symptoms of Pubic Lice?
Pubic Lice causes intense itchy areas. And you can sometimes see them too.
How Do I get rid of Pubic Lice?
You can treat this at home with over the counter medications, talk to your pharmacist or doctor for the best medication for you. Make sure you thoroughly wash or dry-clean all bedding and clothing that may have come into contact with the lice.
What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is caused by spiral-shaped, snail-like microscopic organisms. It often imitates other diseases. It is spread through intercourse, kissing, oral/genital contact.
What are the symptoms of Syphilis?
The first symptom is a circular, painless and firm sore that appears at the site of infection, 9 to 90 days after infection. It will heal by itself 6 to 10 weeks later. There may be a time of no visible symptoms. Followed by rashes that do not itch and heal without leaving scars, at this point the microbes have traveled through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to every organ and tissue in the body. This may be followed by a period of no visible symptoms. Syphilis will attack the nervous system and destroy the body, it is deadly in the last phase.
How Do I get rid of Syphilis?
Lengthy treatment with penicillin is effective, up until the last phase when the nervous system is attacked.
What is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis or Trich, is one of the most common vaginal infections. It can cause vaginitis.
What are the symptoms of Trichomonasis?
There are usually no symptoms and men rarely have symptoms. What can appear is a frothy, musty-smelling discharge and itching in the vaginal area, and an increased urge to urinate.
How Do I get rid of Trichomonasis?
Trichomonasis can be treated with antibiotics.
What is Vaginitis?
Vaginitis is triggered by many different organisms and not always spread through sexual contact.
What are the symptoms of Vaginitis?
Symptoms include burning or itching of the vulva, unpleasant odor, abnormal discharge which is sometimes tinged with blood.
How Do I get rid of Vaginitis?
Treatment varies depending on the cause of the disease.