An STI is an acronym for Sexually Transmitted Infections. They are infections transmitted through having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has an infection. It can also be passed through skin-to-skin contact, childbirth, breastfeeding, sex toys, or through IV drug needles from an infected person. Both viruses and bacteria can develop an STI. Viruses that develop STI include HBV (Hepatitis B), HCV (Hepatitis C), herpes, genital warts, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and HPV (Human Popilloma Virus). Bacteria that develop STI include Chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginosis, and syphilis.
What is the difference between an STI and an STD?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), also known as venereal diseases (VD), are infectious diseases passed from one person to another through sex. If left untreated, it can cause permanent damage, for example, infertility and death.
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) may infect others or a person may be infected without experiencing symptoms of the disease.
What are the symptoms of STI?
- Itching around the vagina for women
- Unusual discharge from the vagina for women
- Discharge from the penis for men
- Pain during or following sex
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Sore throats in people who have oral sex
- Pain in or around the anus for people who have anal sex
- Chancre sores (painless red sores) on the genital area, anus, tongue and/or throat
- A scaly rash on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet
- Dark urine, loose, light-colored stools, and yellow eyes and skin
- Small blisters that turn into scabs on the genital area
- Swollen glands, fever and body aches
- Unusual infections, unexplained fatigue, night sweats and weight loss
- Soft, flesh-colored warts around the genital area
- Flu-like symptoms (eg. HBV, HCV, HIV)
How can I prevent myself from getting an STI?
To lower the risk of getting an STI is to have sex with someone who is not having sex with anyone else and who does not have an STI. Always use condoms when having sex, including oral and anal sex. Limit the number of sex partners you have and ask him/her if he/she has had or been tested for an STI. Also let him/her know if you have had or tested for one too. Do not have sex if either you or your partner is being treated for an STI.
Although STIs do not always have symptoms, look for signs of STI in your sex partner. The best way to kill the germs before they infect you, wash your genitals with soap and water and urinate soon after you have sex.
Do not use spermicide to prevent STIs. Recent study results indicate that the nonoxynol-9 in spermicides irritates a womans vagina and cervix increasing the risk for an STI infection. Make sure you check other products for ingredients with nonoxynol-9 before using it.
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