Information About STDs

Anyone sexually active or considering sexual activity should familiarize themselves with facts about STDs, how to get tested, how and where to get treated, and how to protect and prevent STDs. Sexually Transmitted Diseases are common, and many are treatable. Understanding more about STDs is essential. Over the past five years, Georgians ranked 4th out of all state residents searching for STD-related information (GoogleTrends, 2020). Learning more about how STDs could impact you is an essential aspect of sexual health. This page provides STD facts, details about what to look for, and how to prevent and protect yourself from STDs in the future. 

  • What is an STD

    An STD (sexually transmitted disease) is an infection that can be passed through sex or sexual contact.

    STDs include:

    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?

    Get Checked:

    • 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.

    Get Treated:

    • 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.


    Flu-like feelings, with fever, chills, and aches.


    Swelling in your groin-area around your sex organs.

  • How to Protect Yourself

    Stay Safe:

    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.

    Take Action:

    • 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.
  • I Tested Positive for an STD, What Should I Do?

    Testing positive for an STD can be scary but it doesn’t mean the end of the world. If you've just found out that you tested positive you may be trying to figure out what to do next. Here are the three most important steps. Click Here

  • DO's and DONT's of Condoms

    Do of Condoms

    • DO use a condom every time you have sex, even if you are using another form of contraceptive.
    • DO read the package and check the expiration date.
    • DO have an open dialogue with your partner(s) before engaging in sexual activity.
    • DO make sure there are no tears or defects.
    • DO store condoms in a cool, dry place.
    • DO use latex or polyurethane condoms.
    • DO use a water-based or silicone-based lubricant to prevent breakage.
    • DO put a new condom on each time you switch between oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
    • DO use condoms on sex toys and change them, especially if you’re sharing a toy

    Don't of Condoms

    • DON’T be afraid to talk to your partner(s) about contraceptives.
    • DON’T store condoms in hot places like your car or wallet.
    • DON’T use nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide), as this can cause irritation.
    • DON’T use oil-based products like baby oil, lotion, petroleum jelly, or cooking oil because they will cause the condom to break.
    • DON’T use more than one condom at a time.
    • DON’T reuse a condom.
    • DON’T use a condom that is torn or outdated.
    • DON’T flush used condoms down the toilet.


Condoms are a way to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

Page last updated 12/31/22