Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)
What are STIs
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection caused by a bacteria, virus, or parasite, that can be passed from one person to another from sexual or intimate contact.
STIs vs STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) differ from STIs as one is a disease and the other is an infection. Many diseases begin with an infection, but not all; and not all infections lead to disease.
The medical community has started using the term STI to further clarify this distinction that sexually transmitted infections don’t always lead to a sexually transmitted disease.
There are many types of STIs, each with their own set of symptoms, risk factors, and treatment methods.
Common STIs include:
- Genital warts or human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Genital herpes
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Symptoms vary depending on the specific type of STI.
Common STI symptoms include:
- Pain when urinating
- A rash
- Itchy genitals or anus
- Unusual blisters or sores around the genitals, anus, or mouth
- Unusual discharge from genitals or anus
- Lumps or growths around genitals or anus
STIs are usually causes by intimate or skin-to-skin contact between one infected person and an uninfected person. Common ways infection can spread is through unprotected sexual acts such as vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.
Certain factors make getting infected with an STI more likely.
Common risk factors include:
- Having unprotected sex
- Sex with multiple partners
- The type of sexual partner you have (are they being safe, etc.)
- Injecting drugs
- Age (being young)
- History of having STIs
- Engaging in sex while drunk, on drugs, or other forms of impaired judgement
Only a doctor can accurately diagnose STIs.
The most common ways to test for STIs include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Fluid samples (from an open genital sore)
Treatment depends on the type of STI.
The most common treatment methods are antibiotics and antiviral drugs.
When to See a Medical Doctor
If you experience any symptoms of STIs, or had sex with someone that was recently diagnosed with an STI, speak to a doctor right away.
A doctor will be able to order the tests needed to diagnose you, and prescribe the proper medications needed to treat it, if infected.
If a sexual partner was recently diagnosed, avoid engaging in sexual activity with anyone until speaking to a doctor.