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What is a sexually transmitted infection?
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection caused by an organism (bacteria, virus, or parasite) that can be passed from one person to another during sex or intimate contact.
How do you get an STI?
Most STIs are passed (or transmitted) between sexual partners through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex. Some STIs are passed through skin-to-skin contact. Using condoms and other barriers for vaginal, anal and oral sex is a good way to reduce some STIs. Find out more about safer sex [PROTECTION].
How do you know if you have an STI?
You many not notice any changes in your body when you get an STI. Sometimes the symptoms of an STI are easy to miss and last only a short time. Even when you don’t notice any symptoms, you can still pass an STI to a sexual partner. If STIs are left untreated, you may develop other health problems. The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested.
When should I get tested?
We recommend that you get tested when:
- You have a new sexual partner.
- You or your partner has other sexual partners.
- You notice any changes in your body
- You had sex with someone who has tested positive for an STI.
- You had unprotected sex or the condom broke.
What happens if I get an STI?
Get Tested: If you think you might have an STI, see a health care provider and get tested. Find a clinic near you.
Get treated: If you have an STI, your healthcare provider can talk with you about what treatments are available. Some types of STIs can be cured with treatment. Having treatment for an STI will not stop you from getting the infection again. Other STIs can be treated, but not cured. For these STI, medications are often available to help manage symptoms. There are many resources for people who are living with an STI.
Let your partner(s) know to get tested: If you test positive for an STI, there is a chance your sexual partner(s) might also have the STI. If you test positive for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV or Hepatitis C, your health care provider will ask you about anyone that you have had sex with in the past 2 to 12 months, depending on the STI. You will be encouraged to let your sexual partner(s) know that they need to get tested and treated. You can tell your partners to get tested in person or anonymously.
What can I do protect myself and my partner(s) from STIs?
STIs are common infections and if you are sexually active, it is likely that you might have an STI at some time in your life.
Ways to reduce the chance of having an STI
- Use condoms or other latex barriers for vaginal, anal and oral sex, [link to condoms]
- Practice safer sex [safer sex guide]
- Know your comfort level with different sexual activities and the chances of STIs [link to chances]
- Talk with your partner(s) about ways to have safer sex [link to talking about it]
- Talk with your partners about getting tested for STIs [get tested]
- Get regular STI testing.
Check out more STI Prevention.