Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is a serious condition that usually occurs after sexual activity. The common symptoms are itching and burning around the genital area. Fortunately, several treatment options are available to cure these infections. However, after treatment, you can get the same condition one more time. STIs are also called Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

STIs are very contagious and serious conditions that need treatment. However, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection has no cure and can be life-threatening if you are not treating it.

There are several types of STIs. Check below the most common sexually transmitted infections:

  • Trichomoniasis
  • Pubic lice
  • Syphilis
  • Vaginitis
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Gonorrhea
  • Genital warts and herpes
  • Chlamydia

Furthermore, In the U.S. STIs are common. About 25 million people experience sexually transmitted diseases every year.

Causes and Symptoms

Commonly, the symptoms are different among people. In case you do not notice symptoms, they may appear in the genital area. Check below some examples:

  • Discharge from your penis
  • Vaginal discharge that has a bad odor and causes irritation
  • Vaginal bleeding that is not your menstrual period
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Warts, sores, or bumps near your penis, vagina, mouth, or anus
  • Severe itching or swelling near your vagina or penis

Additionally, you may also experience some symptoms throughout your body. For example:

  • Night sweats
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Skin rash
  • Pains, fever, chills, and aches

Although STIs develop from different bacteria, parasites, or viruses you can get these microorganisms from body fluids including blood, urine, semen, saliva, and others. This happens during oral, anal, or vaginal sex.

Risk Factors for STIs

If you share your personal items including needles, you can also get STIs. These items may contain one’s blood. This can occur in the following cases:

  • Unregulated piercings or tattoos
  • Sharing needles while using intravenous drugs

It is very important to be open and honest with your sexual partner. However, many people feel embarrassed due to STIs. It would be best if you decrease the risk of spreading the infection if you experience sexually transmitted infections.


In case you left untreated STIs, it may lead to lifelong complications. Check some examples below:

  • HIV can lead to AIDS
  • Syphilis can cause damage to your organs, and nervous system, and infect a developing fetus
  • Spreading STIs to your partner

Check below some complications for women or AFAB (people assigned female at birth):

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a condition that can damage your uterus and provoke infertility
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Infertility
  • Chronic pelvic pain

In AMAB (people assigned male at birth) or men may lead to:

  • Swollen, sore testicles
  • Infertility
  • Infections in the urethra and prostate


In most cases, Antibiotics and Antivirals are used in the treatment of STIs. These medicines help cure many but not all sexually transmitted infections, lessen the symptoms and decrease the spreading of the infection.

Additionally, human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral STI in the U.S. Usually, people may not notice any symptoms or develop bumps or warts near the genital region. Furthermore, high-risk HPV may even provoke cervical cancer. However, there is a vaccine available that helps to prevent HPV. Healthcare providers advise children ages 11 to 12 to receive this vaccine because it is most effective before a person becomes sexually active. For more details talk with a healthcare professional.


It is recommended to abstain from sex to decrease the risk of STIs. In any case, if you are sexually active, check the following tips:

  • Use latex condoms whenever you have any kind of sexual activity. On the other hand, if your partner has a vagina, can use a dental dam for oral sex.
  • Carefully choosing partners also is advised. Do not have sex with someone if you suspect your partner has an STI.
  • It is not recommended to consume alcoholic drinks and illegal drugs while planning to have sex.
  • Another way to prevent STIs is to get checked for sexually transmitted infections regularly.


A physician will diagnose a sexually transmitted infection after testing and a physical exam. First, your doctor will ask you’re your symptoms and medical history. In case you get diagnosed with an STI, it is recommended to notify your partner(s).

A medical test that helps to identify if you have an STI is called a sexually transmitted infection test. This test includes:

  • Blood and urine test
  • Cheek swab
  • Fluid sample from your skin sores
  • Discharge or cell sample from your body (commonly the vagina, urethra, cervix, penis, anus, or throat)

In most cases, STI testing is painless but you may feel a small discomfort during some of them.

In addition, it is recommended to get tested every 3 to 6 months, especially if you have many sexual partners. Regular testing may identify an STI that you may not even know you have. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I experience an STI during pregnancy?

Immediately contact a healthcare professional for treatment that will help keep you and your fetus safe. There are some STIs that may negatively affect your unborn baby.

How soon after treatment will I feel better?

If you are using antibiotic or antiviral medicines in the treatment of STIs, you should feel better after several days. However, continue the treatment even if you feel good because stopping the treatment too early may lead to a return of the symptoms. Thus, your condition may become worse or more difficult to treat. In addition, do not share your medications with others, especially with children.

Are STIs contagious?

Sexually transmitted infections are contagious and pass from person to person through body fluids during sexual intercourse. However, Syphilis can spread while giving birth to a baby. In any case, if you have an STI, it is very important to see a doctor to receive treatment. Otherwise, it may lead to some unwanted complications. Moreover, roughly all STIs are curable conditions.

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