Information About STDs
What is an STD?
An STD (sexually transmitted disease) is an infection that can be passed through sex or sexual contact.
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
- Genital Herpes
- Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV Infection)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Hepatitis B and C
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 an STD with no signs or symptoms. Or the symptoms may go away. Either way, you still have the STD until you get treated.
How an STD is spread:
- STD is 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 Should I Do?
- Don’t just hope the STD will go away. It won’t!
- Most county health departments have special STD clinics. Private health care providers also treat STD.
- 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 an 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 you will get well.
- Many STDs can be cured. Others cannot be cured. But 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!
What to Watch For:
Many people have an STD with no symptoms. If you have symptoms, you may notice any of these things.
|Women||Men||Women & Men|
An unusual discharge or smell from your vagina.
A drip or discharge from your penis.
Sores, bumps or blisters near your sex organs, rectum or mouth.
Pain in your pelvic area- the area between your belly button and sex organs.
Burning and pain when you urinate (pee) or have a bowel movement.
Burning or itching around your vagina.
Need to urinate often.
Bleeding from your vagina that is not your regular period.
Itching around your sex organs.
Pain deep inside your vagina when you have sex.
Swelling or redness in your throat.
Swelling in your groin-area around your sex organs.
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 STD much of the time.
- Use plastic (polyurethane) condoms if you’re 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 an STD.
- Look closely at your Partner for any signs of STD- a rash, a sore or discharge. If you see anything you’re worried about don’t have sex.
- Get checked for STD 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’re right for you.
- Know the signs and symptoms of STD. If you notice a symptom that worries you, get checked!
If You Have an 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.
Reference: ETR Associates. (©1986, Revised 2009. Reviewed 2012). STD Facts[Brochure]. Scotts Valley, CA: Jane Hiatt, Kay Clark and Mary Nelson.
Page last updated 02/28/2019