Anyone who is sexually active can get or transmit an STI. It is not who you are that makes you vulnerable to STI—it's what you do. Some STIs, including HPV and HSV and can be spread by touching—either genital to genital or hand to genital. Others, including HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea, are transmitted through contact with an infected person's body fluids.
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Sores, bumps, rashes, or blisters in the genital or anal areas
- Abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis
- Itching, pain or discharge from the anal area
- Redness or swelling in the genitals
How are STIs diagnosed?
Most STIs are diagnosed through an exam by your clinician, a culture of the secretions from your vagina or penis or though a blood test. In order to provide you with a comprehensive screening for STIs, your HUHS Clinician will meet with you to discuss your concerns and risks. Together you would decide which tests are appropriate for your risks and exposure.
For many of the infections, the incubation period (the time from when you are exposed to when you see symptoms or tests may show positive results) may be several days to a week. If you had a recent exposure that you are concerned about, we’d advise you to call or meet with your clinician, particularly if you are interested in obtaining emergency contraception (Morning after pill). You may be asked to return at a later time for additional tests.
If you are diagnosed with a STI, it is important to receive treatment and take as directed. Some STIs can cause long-term health issues if left untreated, especially for women.
You can lower your risk in the following ways:
- Limit the number of partners. Form a monogamous relationship in which you and your partner make an agreement to be faithful sexually and stick to it. Avoid sexual contact (penetrative or touching without penetration) until you are reasonably sure—through testing and examination—that you and your partner are free of STIs. Be aware that there are limitations on the value of testing. Latent bacteria and viruses can be present without visual evidence or even positive testing.
- Practice safe sex. Use condoms made of latex or polyurethane (not "skins"). While condoms do not provide 100% protection, they do provide the best protection now available.
- Have regular medical checkups and STI testing, especially if you have changed partners or have more than one partner. Do not wait for symptoms to appear. A large percentage of people who have an STI are unaware of any symptoms.
- Do not use alcohol or other drugs in potentially intimate situations. Drugs inhibit your ability to make decisions.
- Learn the common symptoms of STIs (for those that have symptoms) and see your primary care clinician if symptoms develop or if your partner suspects he or she has had contact with an STI.