New Page 1
Click for Public Health Clinics Click for Programs and Services
Click for Preparedness and Response
Click for Animal Care and Control
Click for Nursing Services
Click for Environmental Health Services
logo link to dph homepage
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

What are STI’s?

STI’s are infections that people can get by having sex with someone who is infected. There are many different kinds of STI’s. You may have heard of
chlamydia, herpes, HPV, syphilis and gonorrhea. There are many other kinds
as well. STI’s are much more common than you think.

Anyone who has sex can get an STI, and it can be transmitted through vaginal,
anal or oral sex.

bullet You can get an STI even if you have sex just once.
bullet You can get the same STI more than once.
bullet You can have more than one STI at a time.
bullet The only sure way to protect yourself is not to have sex
bullet STI’s can be passed WITHOUT ejaculation
bullet STI’s can be passed even with no actual penetration during sex
bullet STI’s can be passed even when there are no signs or symptoms
bullet Some STI’s can be passed to or from the mouth or throat during oral sex (Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes)

What can happen if I get an STI?

STI’s can make you unable to have children, cause birth defects or diseases in babies. Some STI’s are painful. A few can even kill you. Most STI’s, syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia can be cured if treated right away. Others, like HIV, HPV
or herpes, cannot be cured.

How can I tell if my partner has an STI?

Most of the time, you can’t tell if someone has an STI by looking at them. A person can look healthy and still have an STI. And you can’t always tell by asking them – a person can have an STI and not know it!

What should I watch out for?

You should get checked if:

bullet You had sex without a condom.
bullet You think your partner had sex with someone else.
bullet You have had sex with more than one person.

Get a check-up right away, if you feel or see any of these signs:

bullet Burning or pain while urinating
bullet Unusual discharge or smell from the vagina or penis
bullet Itching, burning, or pain around the vagina or penis.

Protect yourself from getting an STI?

Use a condom every time you have sex. Latex or polyurethane (plastic) condoms are best. Now there are condoms for women to use too. Condoms for men fit over the man’s penis. Condoms for women are inserted vaginally. You can buy condoms in a grocery store or drugstore.

Birth control methods, other than condoms, will not protect you from STI’s. Use a condom (for men or women) along with your birth control method.

It is safest to have sex with only one person who only has sex with you. If either of you have sex with other people, you can get STI’s. The more people that you or your partner have sex with, the more likely that you will get an STI.

There are ways to be close without sharing body fluids (semen, vaginal fluids or blood). Hugging and touching are safer than sex because no fluids are shared.

If you or your partner has sores or bumps around the vagina, penis or mouth, don’t have sex or touch the sores. Get a check-up and wait until the clinic says it is safe.

Don’t mix sex with alcohol or other drugs. This can lead you to take risks that you might not take if you were not under the influence.

Don’t have sex when it isn’t right for you. It’s your body and your choice whether or not to have sex. Decide ahead of time what is right for you.

If you have an STI take care of yourself.

bullet Get treated. Finish taking all of your medicine. Don’t stop even if you feel better.
bullet Ask your partner(s) to get checked. Although it can be hard to say something, they need to know so they can get tested. The nurse can give you a partner notification letter.
bullet Don’t have sex until you and your partner are cured or your clinic tells you it is safe.
bullet Use a condom and spermicide when you have sex.
bullet Learn more about STI’s. Talk to your doctor or clinic nurse.

Before you have sex, talk to your partner about using condoms.

Talking to your partner about using condoms may not be easy for you. Think about what you want to say ahead of time. You may even want to practice with a friend.

You can talk about it in many ways. Find a way that works for you. Here are some ideas:

bullet “I’d really like to have sex with you as long as we use condoms. Using condoms protects both of us.”
bullet “You know, it makes sex even better for me knowing that both of us are protected. Let’s use condoms”
bullet “Did you see that TV show about HIV last night? It seems like everyone needs to use condoms these days.”
photo of two teens looking at each other