About STIs

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STIs 101

What is a sexually transmitted infection?

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is caused by an organism (bacteria, virus, or parasite) that can be passed from one person to another during sex or intimate contact.

How does someone get an STI?

Most STIs are passed (or transmitted) between sexual partners through unprotected oral, vaginal (frontal) or anal sex. Some STIs are passed by skin-to-skin contact. Using condoms and other barriers for vaginal (frontal), oral and anal sex is a good way to lower the chances of passing many STIs. Find out more about safer sex.

How do I know if I have an STI?

You many not notice any changes in your body when you have an STI. Sometimes the symptoms are easy to miss and/or they may last only a short time. Even when you don’t notice any symptoms, you can still pass an STI to a sexual partner. The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested or checked out by a health care provider.

What happens if I get an STI?

If you are concerned that you might have an STI, get tested to find out for sure. Some STIs can cause serious health problems if left untreated. If your results come back positive (meaning you have an STI), your health care provider will tell you what kind of treatment you need.  Some types of STIs can be cured with medication. Other STIs can be treated with medications, but not cured. Learn more about different types of STIs.

If you do have an STI, your health care provider may ask about anyone that you have had sex with in the past 2 to 12 months, depending on the STI. There are different ways to let your partner know about it.

What can I do to protect myself and my partners 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. There are things you can do to lower the chances of getting an STI. Find out more on how to prevent STIs.

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