Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) are caused by having sex with a current or previous sexual partner that has an STI.
Whatever the reason might be, if someone thinks there’s a chance they have an STI, the best thing to do is to get tested. A lot of people are scared or embarrassed and that’s completely normal, but it shouldn’t get in the way of good decision-making.

General Symptoms

The following are a list of symptoms which MAY indicate the presence of a sexually transmitted infection. It is important to speak with a health professional if any of these symptoms are present. Please note that even if you don’t have any of the following symptoms, that does not mean you are STI free for certain. Some STI’s have no symptoms for a long period after infection.

  • Pain/burning with urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain and/or bleeding during sexual intercourse
  • Irregular bleeding (not during a woman’s period)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Sores or bumps on or near the genitals, anus, or throat
  • Itching of genitals
  • Fever and/or chills

HIV

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, attacks the body’s defenses by damaging or destroying the cells of the immune system. HIV progresses over time, making the body less and less able to fight off infection and certain types of cancer. It finally causes AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, after an average of about 10 years in the body.
AIDS is the most advanced stage of the infection. Bacteria and viruses that a healthy body can fight off can cause life-threatening infections in people with AIDS.
There is no cure for HIV, but there are a variety of treatments and strategies that can help HIV positive people live much longer and healthier lives than ever before. One fifth of all U.S. AIDS cases are in people 20-29, which means they almost certainly caught HIV in their teen years.
Currently, black males (regardless of sexual orientation) are at the highest risk for contracting HIV, however, HIV cases are on the rise among all groups of young people.

How can I get HIV?

Most teens that were recently infected got the virus by having sex with an infected partner. Vaginal, oral, and anal sex can all spread HIV. About half of HIV positive teen females were infected by having sex with men, and about half of HIV positive teen males were infected by having sex with men. The rest were infected at birth, and a very small number by sharing needles. If you are infected with another STI, the chance of getting HIV from an HIV infected partner is many times greater because of an already weakened immune system and/or the presence of sores which allow the virus easier entry into the body.
HIV can be spread through 4 body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. It is NOT spread via saliva, urine, tears, or feces. Babies born to HIV positive mothers who are not being treated have a 1 in 3 or 4 chance of getting HIV before or during birth and through breast milk. However, HIV positive women who are receiving treatment greatly lower the risk of giving birth to a child with HIV—treatment is very important!
Tattoo and body piercing needles may be contaminated, unless they are disposable or sterilized. However, it is difficult to adequately sterilize them at home, so piercing or tattooing using sewing needles, safety pins, etc. is not recommended.

 But can’t HIV also be spread by…?

  • HIV is not spread by biting insects like mosquitoes, lice, or bedbugs.
  • Because of careful screening and heat treatments of all donated blood, the risk of getting HIV through a blood transfusion is extremely small.
  • HIV is not spread through casual contact, i.e. sharing a glass of water or a piece of pizza, kissing, toilet seats, etc. even if the person you are sharing with is HIV positive!

What are the symptoms?

Most people have no clue that they have HIV until they get tested or start to get symptoms of AIDS. Some people do get a flu-like illness within a month or two of infection. These symptoms include: fever, headache, tiredness, and enlarged lymph glands. This is often mistaken for some other viral infection, and it goes away on its own. This is a time, however, when large amounts of the virus are present in the genital fluids and can be spread more easily.
The best way to tell if you have HIV infection is to come in and take a test. At myHealth, we recommend that sexually active young people come in for an STI test at least once a year, even if they have not switched partners or are not showing any symptoms. It is also a good idea to get tested again every time you switch partners. Since some people can take up to 6 months after infection before a test will show a positive result, and it will normally take at least 90 days from infection until an accurate test result can be achieved!
Most teens find it hard to believe that something like HIV infection could ever happen to them, but since young people are at a high risk of contracting HIV, it is important not to engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, delaying HIV testing, or refusing HIV treatment if the test is positive.

How do I prevent HIV?

Abstaining from both sexual activity and sharing needles is the best way to protect yourself from HIV. If you do decide to be sexually active, do it safely and responsibly. Have sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you, and always use a condom, dental dam, or other barrier method for protection from HIV and other STI’s. If you use needles, they must always be new or sterilized.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can infect both males and females. Chlamydia is the number one bacterial STI in the U.S. today, with 4 million new cases every year. In addition, the Twin Cities Metro Area has some of the highest rates of Chlamydia in the nation!

How can I get Chlamydia?

Unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex may spread the bacteria from the infected person to anyone he or she has sex with. The more partners a person has had, the more at-risk they are! The bacteria can live in the vagina, cervix, penis, or anus.

What are the symptoms?

Chlamydia is known as a “silent STI” because 75% of the women and 50% of the men with the infection have no symptoms—they don’t even know they have it! Others have mild symptoms that may be easy to ignore, or that seem to come and go.

If someone has symptoms, they may include:

  • Abnormal spotting or bleeding
  • Whitish discharge from the vagina or penis
  • Burning or itching around the opening of the penis
  • Pain or a bleeding with sex
  • Pain or a burning feeling while peeing
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain and/ or swelling in the testicles

How do I get tested?

Chlamydia is detected with a medical test. For males, we use a urine test. For females, a urine test can also be used or a sample of fluid can be taken during the pelvic exam. When you come into our clinic, we will give you lots of information, answer all your questions, and give you a complete exam that can detect Chlamydia and other problems you might have.

Will it go away?

It is curable; Chlamydia does not have to be a life-long affliction. Prescription antibiotics will kill the Chlamydia bacteria. Treatment that’s not completed can spell serious problems down the line including:

  • Keeping males from fathering children
  • Keeping females from getting pregnant
  • Causing ectopic or tubal pregnancies—the egg is fertilized and begins to develop in the (very tiny) fallopian tubes, causing the tubes to swell until they burst
  • Lasting pain (for both males and females) that continues after the infection has been cured

During treatment, you must stop having sex until you’re cured and the same goes for your partner. This will help keep you from getting re-infected or spreading the disease to someone else.

How do I prevent Chlamydia?

Not having sex is the best way to protect oneself from getting any sexually transmitted infection. If you do decide to have sex, plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly. Have sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you, and always use a condom, dental dam, or other barrier method. If you think you may be infected, don’t have sex at all until you are tested and get the results. Once you’ve become sexually active, it is a good idea to get tested once a year, even if you are not having any symptoms.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that is spread by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It can infect the vagina, cervix, penis, anus, or throat.
If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause worse infections. It can even cause scarring that can ruin someone’s chances of having children. Occasionally, gonorrhea that goes without treatment can even lead to death. About one million people in the U.S. contract gonorrhea every year.

How can I get Gonorrhea?

Gonorrheal bacteria live in body fluids, such as semen, vaginal discharge, or saliva. Vaginal, anal, and oral sex spread the fluids and the bacteria in them to your body. Unprotected sex increases a person’s risk of contracting gonorrhea, as does having multiple partners.

What are the symptoms?

Many men and women have NO symptoms until the infection gets more severe. If the gonorrhea infection is in the throat, there are hardly ever any symptoms.

Early Symptoms May Include
  • A burning feeling while you pee
  • Peeing more often
  • Grey, yellow, green or white discharge from the vagina or penis
Later Symptoms May Include
  • Fever
  • Cramping
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Backache
  • Pain and/or bleeding with sex
  • Bleeding in-between periods

How do I get tested?

Gonorrhea is determined with a medical test in which a sample of fluid is taken from the penis, vagina, anus, or throat, and then sent to a lab for results. When you come into our clinic, we will give you lots of information, answer all your questions, and give you a complete exam that can detect gonorrhea and other problems you might have.

Will it go away?

Yes. Prescription antibiotics will kill the gonorrhea bacteria. If you are being treated for gonorrhea, you must stop having sex until you’re cured and the same goes for your partner. This will help keep you from getting re-infected or spreading the disease to someone else. Treatment that’s not completed can spell serious problems down the road, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Pelvic infections
  • Internal scarring
  • Sterility in men and women
  • Tubal pregnancy
  • Painful joints

 How do I prevent Gonorrhea?

Not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from any sexually transmitted infection. If you do decide to have sex, plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly. Have sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you, and always use a condom, dental dam, or other barrier method. If you think you may be infected, don’t have sex at all until you are tested and get the results.

Herpes

Herpes is a common and usually mild infection caused by two similar viruses – herpes simplex type 1 and 2. Both are very contagious and cause similar symptoms. Genital herpes (type 2) is usually present on the vagina, penis, butt, or thighs. Oral herpes (type 1) is usually on the mouth or face. As many as 80% of all people with herpes do not know that they have it! They may spread the infection to others because a small amount of virus may be present even if there are no symptoms. This fact is probably why so many people have herpes – about 20- 25% of all Americans over age 12.

How can I get Herpes?

  • Direct skin-to-skin contact with a herpes sore
  • Kissing someone with a cold sore
  • It’s most likely to spread from contact with a sore but could be spread even when a sore is not present
  • Having sex with someone with a genital herpes sore
  • Mouth to genital area contact or genital area to mouth contact during oral sex with an infected person
  • Touching any mucous membrane (such as the eye or mouth) or open area (like a cut, scrape or hangnail) to a herpes sore

What are the symptoms?

Each person’s response to the virus is different. There may be no symptoms at first, but there may be symptoms with a later outbreak. The symptoms may range from minor irritation to severe pain. There may be future outbreaks of symptoms, called recurrences, or the symptoms may never return again. If there are recurrences they are usually much milder and shorter. Many people get an itchy or burning feeling a day or two before symptoms come back.

  • They are usually noticed between 2 days and 3 weeks after exposure. However, they can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years to show up!
  • Small blisters appear, and then burst, causing small open areas that usually heal within 3 weeks. They can include itching, burning, soreness, pain around the outbreak area and pain with urination.
  • Some people develop a low-grade fever, muscle aches and/or swollen lymph glands.

How do I get tested?

Come in and talk to a doctor or nurse as soon as you can! The health care provider will check a client for symptoms, looking for sores or blisters. A blood test may also be done.

Will it go away?

Yes and no. There is no treatment that can remove the virus from the body. However, it can be treated. There are several effective medications that can shorten or prevent the outbreak of symptoms. Maintain a healthy lifestyle can also help strengthen the immune system and prevent future outbreaks. Since the virus lives in the body permanently, there is always a chance that outbreaks can re-occur. Some people have them very infrequently and others, more often. For anyone that has type 1 herpes (cold sores) or type 2 herpes (genital herpes) it is important to talk with your doctor so they can help you manage your symptoms so they don’t drastically interfere with your life.

How do I prevent Herpes?

Avoid kissing, having sex, or touching if there are sores present. Plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly, having sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you. Always use condoms, dental dams, or other barrier methods when engaging in sexual activity. If you have herpes, you are contagious from the moment there is any warning feeling so don’t let anyone come into contact with you there until the outbreak has cleared up.

HPV/Genital Warts

HPV, or human papilloma virus, is the most common STI and is made up of over 100 types of viruses that can cause various things in the body, including warts. A person may not know right away—or ever—if they have been infected by HPV. Genital warts may not appear until weeks, months, or years after the time of infection, if at all. Certain types of HPV may cause cells on the cervix or in the anus to change and, in rare cases, develop into cancer if left untreated. About 40 million Americans have been diagnosed with HPV, with approximately 6.2 million new cases being diagnosed every year.

How can I get HPV?

HPV is usually spread by direct, skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex with a partner who already has the virus. HPV is most likely to spread when skin is exposed to visible warts, but can still be spread when warts are not visible.

What are the symptoms?

HPV is the infection. The warts or skin cell changes that might show up are the symptoms. The types of HPV that cause visible warts on the genitals (vulva, vagina, penis, scrotum, or anus), or throat are different than warts on other body parts (like hands or feet). Warts that appear on the hands or feet are not caused by HPV, and are not spread through sexual activity. The warts themselves are painless, so it may be hard to know exactly when the infection began. Warts usually feel like smooth or rough bumps in or around the vulva, vagina, penis, scrotum, anus, or throat. People may have HPV and not have any warts that are visible to the naked eye. An abnormal Pap smear result may indicate HPV infection in women.

How do I get tested?

A health care provider can examine infected skin areas for signs of warts. Women can also have a Pap smear, a test that can find abnormal skin changes on the cervix. (Note: Many women have abnormal changes caused by HPV. Only a few of those changes may become cancer if untreated.) Remember, most of the 5000 deaths each year to cervical cancer in the U.S. could have been prevented by regular Pap testing. The same types of HPV linked to cervical cancer can also cause abnormal cell changes in the anus and the penis.

Will it go away?

Yes and no. HPV is a virus and there is no cure. The virus stays in the infected person’s cells but may or may not cause symptoms. Warts may be present in some cases, but not always. Some people experience just one episode, and others several. The good news for most people is that with time, the immune system seems to gain some mastery over the virus, making recurrences less frequent and often eliminating them entirely within about two years. So, even though the virus will never entirely leave the body, the symptoms can be treated. If you think you have warts, get checked right away. Treatments are easiest when started early.

Treatment methods include:
  • Acid treatments
  • Freezing with liquid nitrogen
  • Laser removal for severe cases

 How do I prevent HPV?

Condoms, dental dams, and other barrier methods provide only limited protection, as the warts can be on skin near the genitals, which are not covered by a condom. The best way to prevent HPV infection is not to have sex. If you do decide to have sex, plan your sexual relationships carefully and responsibly. Have sex with only one person who will only have sex with you. At the very least, limit the number of sexual partners you have.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is the name for a group of viruses that cause serious infections in the liver and can permanently damage or destroy liver cells. The most common forms of the virus are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

How can I get Hepatitis?

Hepatitis can be spread by blood, so do not share needles for piercings, tattoos, steroids, or other drugs, and make sure you get piercings and tattoos done professionally. Hepatitis can also be spread via sex, so plan your sexual partners carefully. Only have sex with one person who is only having sex with you, and always use condoms, dental dams or other barrier methods during intercourse. Another way it can be spread is via fecal-oral transmission, some examples include:

  • An infected person goes to the bathroom, does not wash his/her hands well enough and prepares food for others.
  • Drinking water that has been contaminated with sewer water, or was not properly treated with germ killing chemicals before drinking. This is a very common way to spread certain diseases in countries and areas with poor sanitation conditions.
  • Eating uncooked foods, such as fresh fruits, veggies, or ice cubes, which were irrigated or prepared with contaminated water.

What are the symptoms?

Sometimes, there are no visible or noticeable symptoms, but if a person is infected they can spread the infection to others even if they have no symptoms themselves. Since all the Hepatitis viruses affect the liver, the symptoms are similar.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Darkening of the urine (pee)

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is not as damaging to liver cells as the other known forms of Hepatitis, but it makes people very sick. The Hepatitis A virus lives in the intestines of an infected person. When a person passes stool (poop), the virus is in it and can be spread to another person if that person gets some of the infected stool into his or her own intestinal tract. This is called the fecal-oral route. Hepatitis A is easily preventable with good hand washing and good sanitation techniques. There is also a vaccine available that is highly recommended before traveling to under-developed countries.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B causes very serious illness and in a small number of people, it can cause death. It is usually spread when an infected person’s blood or body fluids are passed to another person during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Sharing needles or other objects, like razors, toothbrushes, and hair removal equipment can put a person at-risk. People can have the virus for a long time before they realize it. This is why so many people get Hepatitis B—up to 300,000 people every year. Some people never get sick, yet they can spread the virus with every contact—these people are called chronic carriers. Some people who get sick never completely recover; their livers can fail to work properly. Between 4,000 and 6,000 people die every year in the U.S. from liver failure caused by Hepatitis. Hepatitis B can be prevented with a series of 3 vaccine injections. They are available here at myHealth as well as other clinics. For the past several years, the Hepatitis B vaccine has been included in the series of vaccines given to newborns.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is mostly spread through blood contact, like when sharing drug needles, tattoo and body piercing needles, or hair removal equipment. It can also be spread through sex.

Millions of people may be infected with Hepatitis C though blood and blood products. Hepatitis C was unknown for many years, and then thought to be relatively harmless because it seemed to produce no symptoms. Now, it is know that it remains in the body silently for many years, and then can cause very serious symptoms and severe liver disease.

How do I get tested?

Talk to your doctor! Hepatitis can be difficult to test for, but we do have a test available, so please ask if you are worried. In addition, please tell the doctor if you are having any of the symptoms listed above.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis (trick-oh-mon–EYE-ah-sis) is more commonly referred to as trich (pronounced trick) or trichomonas. Trichomoniasis is a condition caused by a protozoan – a microscopic, one-celled animal. It is a common cause of vaginal infections. Up to five million Americans develop trichomoniasis every year. It can weaken the immune system, making it easier to get other infections, like HIV.

How can I get Trichomoniasis?

You get Trich by having sex, bathing, or sharing towels with an infected person.

What are the symptoms?

It may take anywhere from 3-28 days for symptoms to develop. Men rarely have symptoms. Women also may have no symptoms, but when they do, they may worsen after a period and may include:

Symptoms in women:
  • Large amounts of greenish discharge with a foul odor
  • Itching in and around the vagina
  • Spotting (bleeding between periods)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Urinating more often than usual, often with pain and burning
  • Painful intercourse
Symptoms in men:
  • Unusual discharge from the penis
  • Painful urination
  • Tingling inside the penis

How do I get tested?

Trichomoniasis is detected with a medical test. A sample of fluid is taken from the penis or vagina and viewed under a microscope. When you come in to our clinic, we will give you lots of information, answer all your questions, and give you a complete exam that can detect trichomoniasis and other problems you might be having.

Will it go away?

Yes. Prescription antibiotics will treat the infection. But you must always be sure to take them exactly as prescribed, because incomplete treatment can make any infection even worse. Douches will not kill trich and may cause someone to get treatment too late to keep the disease from spreading. During treatment you must stop having sex until you’re cured and the same goes for your partner. This will help keep you from getting re-infected or spreading the disease to someone else.

 How do I prevent Trichomoniasis?

Not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from any sexually transmitted infection. If you do decide to have sex, plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly. Have sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you, and always use a condom, dental dam, or other barrier method during intercourse. If you think you may be infected, don’t have sex at all until you are tested and get the results. And be sure whoever you have had sex with gets treated too. Condoms offer good protection against trich.

Molluscum

Molluscum is a viral infection which infects the skin. Hundreds of thousands of cases are diagnosed every year.

How can I get Molluscum?

Molluscum can be spread through unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex. However, Molluscum can be transmitted non-sexually as well. Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person can pass on the virus, as could sharing unwashed towels or bedding with someone who had Molluscum.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of Molluscum is the appearance of small round growths in the genital area or on the thighs. These growths usually first appear two to three months after infection.

How do I get tested?

A health care provider can diagnose Molluscum through an examination of the growths. In some cases, they may take a small scraping of a growth to look at under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.

Will it go away?

Molluscum can be treated by removing the growths through methods such as freezing or acid treatments. In addition, there are certain medications which can be used. If Molluscum is left untreated it is possible for it to go away on its own, but this generally takes two years. And during that time the growths can spread to other parts of your body.

 How do I prevent Molluscum?

Avoid physical contact with infected individuals and their belongings, especially clothes and bedding. Since sexual intercourse is a common way to become infected with Molluscum, not having sex is the best method of protection. If you do decide to have sex, plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly. Use condoms and dental dams, but be aware that they offer only limited protection as the growths can be on skin near the genitals, but not covered by a condom. Have sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you.

Pubic Lice

Often called “crabs,” pubic lice are very tiny insects that can live in the pubic area. They become attached to the skin and the hair of that region.

How can I get Pubic Lice?

Public Lice can be spread through sexual intercourse. But unlike many STI’s, they can also be spread without having sex. Close physical contact with an infected person can pass Pubic Lice from one person to another.

What are the symptoms?

Some people never experience symptoms. If you do have symptoms, the most common is intense itching in the genital area or the anus. Sometimes there can be a low fever and feelings of tiredness. In some cases the lice themselves can be seen, or their small egg sacs, in the pubic hair.

How do I get tested?

A health care provider can diagnose Pubic Lice through a physical examination. It is also sometimes possible to see the lice yourself. They are tiny and grey or black in color. Their eggs are white and are found in small clumps near the roots of pubic hair.

Will it go away?

Yes, Pubic Lice is curable. A variety of medications can be prescribed by your healthcare provider to treat the lice. It is also important to heavily wash all clothes, towels, and bedding that might have been exposed, as well as to vacuum your home.

 How do I prevent Pubic Lice?

Avoiding sex and sexual contact is the best way to prevent getting Pubic Lice. Limiting the number of one’s sexual partners and avoiding any close contact with an infected person are also ways to reduce risk. Condoms do not offer protection against Pubic Lice.

Scabies

Scabies is an itchy rash caused by female mites which burrow into a person’s skin to lay their eggs. Scabies infestations can affect anyone regardless of sex, age, race, income, or hygiene habits.

How can I get Scabies?

Scabies can be spread through any kind of direct skin-to-skin contact, including sex. Towels, bedding, and clothes which have been in recent contact with an infected person could also spread the scabies mites to you. Until a person has been treated, they continue to be able to spread scabies.

What are the symptoms?

The most noticeable symptom is intense itching, particularly at night. The areas of skin most affected by scabies includes the webs and sides of fingers, around the wrists, elbows and armpits, waist, thighs, genitals, nipples, breasts, and lower buttocks. Symptoms will generally appear within 2 to 6 weeks of infection in people who have not previously been exposed to Scabies. Those who have had Scabies in the past may show symptoms in just 1 to 4 days.

How do I get tested?

Scabies must be diagnosed by a healthcare professional. They will be able to determine if you have Scabies by examining the rash and listening to your symptoms.

Will it go away?

It is curable, but you should never attempt to treat Scabies on your own. A health professional will prescribe a lotion which, if applied properly, can eliminate Scabies.

 How do I prevent Scabies?

Avoid physical contact with infected individuals and their belongings, especially clothes and bedding. Although not always sexually transmitted, sex is a common way to catch Scabies. Not having sex is the best way to protect oneself from getting any sexually transmitted infection. If you do decide to have sex, plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly. Have sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you. Condoms will not protect you from getting Scabies. If you think you have been infected, avoid physical contact with others until you have been treated. Do not share your personal items until they have been washed and vacuumed.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection which can be passed through sexual intercourse. It can infect the vagina, penis, urethra, anus, lips, and mouth. If left untreated, syphilis can be extremely serious.

How can I get Syphilis?

Syphilis is spread through direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. The more partners a person has had, the more at-risk they are! It can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

What are the symptoms?

Sometimes Syphilis can have no symptoms or mild symptoms that are not easily noticeable. If someone does have symptoms, the primary one is the appearance of sores which can form on the genitals, mouth, breasts, or anus. Additional symptoms can include:

  • Rashes
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen glands
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Muscle pains

How do I get tested?

A health care provider can diagnose Syphilis. If sores are present, they can be examined and tested. If there are no sores, a simple blood test can determine if a person has syphilis.

Will it go away?

Syphilis can be cured using prescription antibiotics, but it is most effectively treated in its early stages. If left untreated, serious complications can result including damage to the brain, heart, and nervous system, possibly leading to death.

 How do I prevent Syphilis?

Not having sex is the best way to protect oneself from getting any sexually transmitted infection. If you do decide to have sex, plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly. Have sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you, and always use a condom, dental dam, or other barrier method during intercourse. If you think you may have been infected, get tested as soon as possible and do not have sex until you receive your test results. It’s always better to be safe.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID stands for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, a serious infection of a woman’s reproductive organs — the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. PID is usually a result of an untreated case of Gonorrhea or Chlamydia, although there are other, less common bacteria that can cause it too. More teens get PID than any other age group. 1 to 2 out of 10 women with PID will become sterile (unable to have children). Most tubal pregnancies are caused by PID scarring. PID can cause women to have pain in their lower abdomen for years after the infection is gone. Having PID once increases the risk of having it again because the body’s defenses are often damaged during the first infection.

How can I get PID?

The bacteria that cause PID usually live in the cervix, vagina, penis, and anus. You can get the bacteria that cause PID by having vaginal sex or anal sex with an infected person.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom of PID is a dull pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen. If no symptoms are present, PID can still cause serious, permanent damage. Many women have no symptoms or their symptoms are too mild to notice. Other possible symptoms include:

  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Increased or changed vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever and chills

How do I get tested?

The infection can only be diagnosed through a pelvic exam and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. It is recommended, as with all sexual health problems, that you be as honest as possible with your healthcare provider about your sexual history, so that he/she may better diagnose the condition. You might feel embarrassed about past experiences or your number of partners, but we need to know them, not so we can judge you, but so we can be as thorough and as helpful as possible.

Will it go away?

If caught early enough, PID can be treated with antibiotics, bed rest, and refraining from sex. If left untreated, you may need to be put in the hospital and given antibiotics directly into the bloodstream. There may be internal scarring or abscesses (wounds) which will have to be surgically removed. Always be sure to take the antibiotics exactly as you are told, because incomplete treatment can make PID even worse. Symptoms may go away long before the bacteria are totally killed. And remember, you may not have symptoms that you can notice at all. Douches will not help and very likely will make the infection worse by helping to spread mare bacteria through the cervix and into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Be sure anyone you have had sex with is tested and treated.

 How do I prevent PID?

Not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from any sexually transmitted infection. If you do decide to have sex, plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly. Have sex with only one partner who will only have sex with you. Always use a condom, dental dam or other barrier method during intercourse. Condoms provide good protection from getting PID.