STIs are infections that are passed from person to person during sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They are super common and a lot of people with STIs don’t have any symptoms. STIs are easy to test for, and they can be treated with medications.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be cured with antibiotic medicine. It’s the most common STI in the US, especially among teens and young adults. Most people who have the infection don’t have any symptoms and it can be spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
Even though chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics, if it’s left untreated it can cause serious health issues down the road. Chlamydia is super easy to test for with a urine test, rectal swab, or throat swab. Chlamydia can be prevented by using condoms.
Chlamydia is only spread through contact with sexual body fluids, so you can’t get it from things like sharing food or drinks, kissing, holding hands, sitting on the toilet, or sneezing. If you test positive for chlamydia it’s important for any partners you have to get treated too.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be cured with antibiotic medicine. Gonorrhea can be passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Some people with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms, but many people experience burning or tingling when they pee, discharge from the vagina or penis, or bleeding between periods.
Even though gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics, if it’s left untreated it can cause serious health issues down the road, including infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. Gonorrhea is super easy to test for with a urine test, rectal swab, or throat swab. Treatment for gonorrhea includes two different antibiotics – one is a shot and one is a pill. Gonorrhea is only spread through contact with sexual body fluids, so you can’t get it from things like sharing food or drinks, kissing, holding hands, sitting on the toilet, or sneezing. The infection can be prevented by using condoms. If you test positive for gonorrhea it’s important for any partners you have to get treated too.
Herpes is a virus that stays in a person’s body for life. There are two types of herpes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is more likely to cause infections of the mouth but may be passed to the genitals through oral-genital contact. Type 2 is more likely to show up around the genitals, but can also be around the mouth too. Genital herpes is really common – about one out of every six people in the U.S. have genital herpes, and many people don’t know they have it.You can get herpes by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has the virus, even if they don’t have a visible sore.
Herpes is spread from skin-to-skin contact with infected areas and can be spread even if there isn’t an outbreak. People with genital herpes get painful blisters on the vulva, penis, or around the anus. There is no cure for herpes, but there are medicines that can be used to treat outbreaks and prevent future ones from happening.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
HPV is a very common virus that is usually harmless but can cause genital warts and in some cases can lead to cervical cancer. It often goes away by itself or with treatment. There are over 40 types of HPV that affect the genitals (including the vulva, vagina, penis, scrotum, and rectum).
Genital HPV infections are extremely common. In fact, most people who have sex will get HPV at some point. Most people who have it feel totally fine, so they usually don’t even know they’re infected. HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it and is easily transmitted.
There’s no cure for HPV, but there are things you can do to help protect yourself and to keep HPV from negatively impacting your health. There are vaccines, like Gardisil, that can help protect you from ever getting certain types of HPV. Using condoms and dental dams can give some protection on the parts of your body that are covered. Genital warts can be removed by a nurse or provider at the clinic. Even the high-risk types of HPV can usually be treated before it turns into cancer. Getting regular Pap tests is really important so that HPV infections can be caught early on.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It weakens your immune system over time, which can make it easier to get sick. It’s an infection that can be spread through direct contact with some body fluids, including vaginal fluid, semen, blood or breast milk of someone who has the infection. You can NOT get or spread HIV through things like hugging, shaking hands, and sharing toilets. HIV is spread during sex, but using condoms can help protect you. There is also a medication that people without HIV can take daily called PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) that can help protect against the infection.
There is no cure for HIV, but there are medications that people can take to help them stay healthy and lower their chances of spreading the infection to others. Getting tested for HIV is important and so is treatment. By catching the infection early on and starting medication treatment, people with HIV can be really healthy and live a long time.
Pubic lice, also called “crabs,” are tiny bug-like parasites that attach to the skin and hair near your genitals. Public lice aren’t dangerous, although they can feel very itchy. They can be cured with a medication you can buy without a prescription at the pharmacy. Pubic lice are spread through skin-to-skin contact during sex.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. The infection causes sores on your genitals or in your mouth. The sores are usually painless, but they can easily spread the infection to other people. Using condoms can help protect you.
Syphilis is treated with antibiotics and is easy to cure in its early stages. If left untreated, syphilis can cause serious health issues.
Trichomoniasis is also called “Trich” for short. It’s a very common sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a parasite. The parasite is carried in vaginal fluid and semen and is spread through sex. Many people with trich don’t notice any symptoms but it can cause itching or irritation inside the penis, burning after urination or ejaculation, unpleasant odor, or discharge from the penis or vagina. Trichomoniasis can be cured with medication.
Molluscum is caused by a skin virus and it looks like small bumps with a dot in the center. They are usually painless but can sometimes get red, irritated, or swollen. It can be spread by direct sexual contact or by sharing a towel with someone who has it. Molluscum is treated with a medication that’s applied to the area, or by freezing and scraping the sores. If left untreated it usually goes away on its own.