What is a STI?
It is an infection or disease passed from person to person through sexual contact.
What is the safest way to prevent an STI?
Abstinence is the safest way to prevent against an STI but, if you decide that you are going to engage in sex then you should always use a condom to protect yourself. Don’t rely on a condom as your only form of birth control, there are several other options available.
What are some common STIs?
What do I do if I think I have one?
Some options are:
- call PSU Health Services (603) 535-2853 to make an appointment
- call your own doctor
Call and make an appointment at Family Planning (603) 536-3584 which is located on 258 Highland St. in Plymouth
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
- Acquired means you can get infected with it
- Immune Deficiency means a weakness in the body’s system that fights diseases
- Syndrome means a group of health problems in the body’s system that make up a disease
AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Being HIV positive is not the same as having full-blown AIDS. Many people are HIV-positive but may not get sick for many years. As HIV progresses to full-blown AIDS, the immune system gets weaker, allowing viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria, that usually don’t cause any problems, to cause opportunistic infections and make the HIV-positive person very sick.
Some people develop symptoms shortly after being infected. On average:
- It takes more than 7-10 years to develop symptoms
- There are several stages of HIV disease
- The first symptom of HIV disease is often swollen lymph glands in the throat, armpit, or groin
- Other early symptoms include slight fever, headaches, fatigue and muscle aches. They may only last for a few weeks. Then there are usually no symptoms for many years.
There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS although there are a variety of new treatments and medication cocktails that help people manage the disease and maintain their normal life activities.
- Use condoms to prevent transmission of bodily fluids.
- Be tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections every year.
- Do not have sex if you have any open sores or rawness of skin because women and men with open sores from herpes and other infections get HIV more easily than other people.
- If you are a drug-user, avoid sharing needles with others and disinfect needles prior to use.
Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.
Hepatitis can be caused by:
- Immune cells in the body attacking the liver and causing autoimmune hepatitis
- Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, B, or C), bacteria, or parasites
- Liver damage from alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, or other poisons
- Medications, such as an overdose of acetaminophen, which can be deadly
Hepatitis may start and get better quickly (acute hepatitis), or cause long-term disease (chronic hepatitis). In some instances, it may lead to liver damage, liver failure, or even liver cancer.
How severe hepatitis is depends on many factors, including the cause of the liver damage and any illnesses you have. Hepatitis A, for example, is usually short-term and does not lead to chronic liver problems.
The symptoms of hepatitis include:
- Abdominal pain or distention
- Breast development in males
- Dark urine and pale or clay-colored stools
- Fever, usually low-grade
- General itching
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
Many people with hepatitis B or C do not have symptoms when they are first infected. They can still develop liver failure later. If you have any risk factors for either type of hepatitis, you should be tested regularly.
Signs and tests
A physical examination may show:
- Enlarged and tender liver
- Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) that can become infected
- Yellowing of the skin
Your doctor may order laboratory tests to diagnose and monitor the hepatitis, including:
Your doctor will discuss possible treatments with you, depending on the cause of your liver disease. Your doctor may recommend a high-calorie diet if you are losing weight.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that progresses in stages. The disease is curable and its progression is preventable, but if untreated, it can cause heart disease, neurological problems and blindness. Syphilis causes genital ulcers, which increase the likelihood of sexual HIV transmission.
A myriad of symptoms can occur during various stages of this disease. Early symptoms can range from:
- a single chancre sore to a rash on the body that does not itch.
- other symptoms are fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, weight loss, hair loss, muscle aches and fatigue.
Syphilis is usually passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. Transmission of the organism occurs during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Wearing condoms and avoiding having multiple sexual partners can help prevent the spread of syphilis. Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.
A single dose of penicillin can cure someone who has had the disease less than a year. Larger doses are needed to cure someone who has had syphilis for longer than a year. For people who are allergic to penicillin, other antibiotics are available to treat syphilis.
More than 80 known viruses exist within the herpes family. Of these, eight are known to cause disease in humans, the most common being herpes simplex virus 1 and 2. HSV-1 and HSV-2 look. Usually, HSV-1 occurs above the waist and HSV-2 below the waist. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) commonly causes cold sores or fever blisters, which are highly infectious open sores that crust over before healing. Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), on the other hand, is a contagious viral infection primarily causing genital herpes in men and women. Once contracted, herpes is a lifelong disease.
- recurrent painful ulcers are a common symptom of herpes
- most people with herpes have no symptoms and are unaware of their infection
- the telltale signs and symptoms of genital herpes include recurrent clusters of blisters, bumps and rashes in the genital areas
- blister “flares” are unpredictable and have been attributed to everything from stress to certain types of food to exposure to sunlight
Unfortunately, there is no cure for genital herpes – once you have it, you have it for life. Some prescription drugs and various therapeutic methods have been proven effective in reducing the frequency, severity and duration of outbreaks.
If someone has signs of genital herpes, avoid skin-to-skin contact until all of the sores have healed. If someone has cold sores around the mouth (oral herpes), avoid oral sex until the sores have healed. Avoid sharing a drinking cup, cigarette, or lipstick while you have a cold sore. There is some evidence that the virus is still present in saliva and body fluids even when sores have healed, so in general, it is safest to use a condom or dental dam if you or your partner is infected – even if they aren’t in “flare.” Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial disease. The bacteria that cause this disease can affect the genital tract, mouth and rectum.
An estimated 650,000 cases of gonorrhea occur each year in the United States.
The early symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild. Symptoms usually appear within two to 10 days after sexual contact with an infected partner. A small number of people may be infected for several months without showing symptoms.
When women have symptoms, the first ones include:
- bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse
- a painful or burning sensation when urinating and/or vaginal discharge that is yellow or bloody.
- more advanced symptoms, which indicate development of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), include cramps, pain, bleeding between menstrual periods, vomiting or fever.
Men have symptoms more often than women. Symptoms include:
- pus from the penis and pain, or
- a burning sensation during urination that may be severe.
- symptoms of rectal infection include discharge, anal itching, and occasional painful bowel movements with fresh blood on the feces.
Health care providers usually prescribe a single dose of one of several antibiotics. However if the infection is complicated, more than one antibiotic and hospitalization may be necessary (put in chlamydia as well). If you have gonorrhea, all of your sexual partners should get tested and then treated if infected, whether or not they have symptoms of infection.
Gonorrhea is spread during sexual intercourse – vaginal, oral, and anal. By using male latex condoms correctly and consistently during vaginal, anal or rectal sexual activity, you can reduce your risk of getting gonorrhea. Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Chlamydia infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Sexually active individuals and individuals with multiple partners are at highest risk.
As many as 1 in 4 men with chlamydia have no symptoms. In men, chlamydia may produce symptoms similar to gonorrhea. Symptoms may include:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Discharge from the penis or rectum
- Testicular tenderness or pain
- Rectal discharge or pain
Only about 30% of women with chlamydia have symptoms. Symptoms that may occur in women include:
Signs and tests
The diagnosis of chlamydia infection involves sampling of the urethral discharge in males or cervical secretions in females. If an individual engages in anal sexual contact, samples from the rectum may also be needed. The sample is sent for a fluorescent or monoclonal antibody test, DNA probe test, or cell culture. Some of these tests may also be performed on urine samples.
The usual treatment for chlamydia is antibiotics, including tetracyclines, azithromycin, or erythromycin.
You can get chlamydia with gonorrhea or syphilis, so if you have one sexually transmitted disease you must be screened for other sexually transmitted diseases as well. All sexual contacts should be screened for chlamydia.
Sexual partners must be treated to prevent passing the infection back and forth. There is no significant immunity following the infection and a person may become repeatedly infected.
A follow-up evaluation may be done in 4 weeks to determine if the infection has been cured.
Women with BV often have an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fish-like odor, especially after intercourse or when washing the vulva with soap. The discharge is usually white or gray and can be thin. Women with BV may also have burning during urination or itching around the outside of the vagina, or both. Some women with BV report no signs or symptoms at all.
Can be cured with an antibiotic given by mouth in a single dose. Partners should be treated at the same time to eliminate the parasite and to prevent recurrence. Persons being treated for trichomoniasis should avoid sex until they and their sex partners complete treatment and have no symptoms.
BV is treatable with antimicrobial medicines (orally or vaginally) prescribed by a health care provider. Two different medicines are recommended as treatment for BV: metronidazole or clindamycin. Metronidazole cannot be taken with alcohol or it will cause extreme sickness, so read the directions on your medication carefully.
There are several ways to prevent trichomoniasis, the most effective being using condoms correctly every time you have sex. Other preventative measures are limiting the number of sex partners, practicing sexual abstinence and avoiding sexual contact if you think you are infected.
Since BV can occur in the absence of sexual intercourse and is not completely understood by scientists, the best ways to prevent it are unknown. However, enough is known to suggest that BV is associated with having a new sex partner or having multiple sex partners. Help reduce the risk of upsetting the natural chemical balance of the vagina and developing BV by using condoms, limiting the number of sex partners, refraining from douching and using all of the medicine prescribed for treatment of BV, even if the symptoms go away.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The virus that causes genital warts is called human papilloma virus (HPV). More than 70 different types of HPV exist. Certain types of HPV can lead to precancerous changes in the cervix, cervical cancer, or anal cancer. These are called high-risk types of HPV.
Not all types of HPV cause genital warts. Other types of HPV cause warts on other parts of the skin, such as the hands. This article focuses on warts on the genitals.
HPV infection around the genitals is common. Most people have no symptoms. In women, HPV can spread to areas inside, on the walls of the vagina and cervix. They are not easy to see without special procedures.
Important facts about HPV:
- HPV infection spreads from one person to another through sexual contact involving the anus, mouth, or vagina. You can spread the warts even if you do not see them.
- You may not see warts for 6 weeks to 6 months after becoming infected. You may not notice them for years.
- Not everyone who has come into contact with the HPV virus and genital warts will develop them.
You are more likely to get genital warts and spread them more quickly if you:
- Have multiple sexual partners
- Do not know if you had sex with someone who had STIs
- Are sexually active at an early age
- Use tobacco and alcohol
- Have a viral infection such as herpes and are stressed at the same time
- Are pregnant
- Have a weakened immune system due to an illness or medication
If a child has genital warts, you should suspect sexual abuse as a possible cause.
Genital warts can be so tiny, you cannot see them.
The warts can look like:
- Flesh-colored spots that are raised or flat
- Growths that look like the top of a cauliflower
In females, genital warts can be found:
- Inside the vagina or anus
- Outside the vagina or anus, or on nearby skin
- On the cervix inside the body
In males, genital warts can be found on the:
- Groin area
- Inside or around the anus
Genital warts can also occur on the
Other symptoms are rare, but can include:
Signs and tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam.
In women, this will include a pelvic examination. Magnification (colposcopy) is used to spot warts that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Your doctor may place watered-down vinegar (acetic acid) on the area. This helps better see any warts.
The virus that causes genital warts can cause abnormal results on a Pap smear. If you have these types of changes, you will probably need more frequent Pap smears for a while.
An HPV DNA test can tell if you have a high-risk type of HPV known to cause cervical cancer. This test may be done:
- As a screening test for women over age 30
- In women of any age who have a slightly abnormal Pap test result
Genital warts must be treated by a doctor. Do NOT use over-the-counter medicines meant for other kinds of warts.
Treatment may include:
- A skin treatment done in the doctor’s office
- Prescription medicine that you apply at home several times per week
Prescription medicines include:
- Imiquimod (Aldara)
- Podophyllin and podofilox (Condylox)
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
The warts may be removed with surgery, including:
If you have genital warts, all of your sexual partners must be examined by a health care provider and treated if warts are found. Even if you do NOT have symptoms, you must be treated to prevent complications and spreading the condition to others.
You will need to return to your health care provider after treatment to make sure all the warts are gone.
Regular Pap smears are recommended if you are a woman who has had genital warts, or if you partner had them. If you had warts on your cervix, you may need to have Pap smears every 3 to 6 months after the first treatment.
Women with precancerous changes caused by HPV infection may need further treatment.