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Conditions

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

STIs are usually spread by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex. More than 9 million women in the United States are diagnosed with an STI each year.1 Women often have more serious health problems from STIs than men, including infertility.

Women's HealthCare of Dothan
Dothan, Alabama Obstetrics and Gynecology

Women's HealthCare Dothan, AL Sexually Transmitted Diseases STDs

Definition

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also called sexually transmitted diseases, (STDs) are infections or conditions that you can get from any kind of sexual activity involving your mouth, anus, vagina or penis. The bacteria, viruses or parasites that cause sexually transmitted diseases may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids.

What You Should Know

Sexually transmitted infections are highly contagious. If you’re sexually active, you can have (and pass on) an STI without even knowing it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular STI screenings or testing if you’re sexually active.

Types of STIs or STDs

There are several types of STIs. The most common types of STIs include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhea (clap)
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Pubic lice (crabs)
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis (trick)
  • Vaginitis

Symptoms

STIs or STDs can have a range of signs and symptoms, and some infections have no symptoms. That’s why they may go unnoticed until complications occur or a partner is diagnosed. The most common symptoms are burning, itching or discharge in your genital area. Symptoms of sexually transmitted infections vary by type.

  • Bumps, sores or warts on or near your penis, vagina, mouth or anus
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Swelling or severe itching near your penis or vagina
  • Vaginal discharge that has an unusual or bad odor
  • Vaginal bleeding that’s not your period
  • Painful sex
  • Rash over the trunk, hands or feet
  • Abdominal aches and pains
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis (trick)
  • Vaginitis

STI Screening &
Testing

A sexually transmitted infection test is a medical test to determine if you have an STI. Ask your doctor or nurse about getting tested for STIs. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what test(s) you may need and how they are done. Testing for STIs is also called STI screening.
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Pelvic and physical exam. Your doctor looks for signs of infection, such as warts, rashes, or discharge.

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Blood test. A nurse will draw some blood to test for an STI.

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Urine test. You urinate (pee) into a cup. The urine is then tested for an STI.

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Fluid or tissue sample. Your doctor or nurse uses a cotton swab to take fluid or discharge from an infected place on your body. The fluid is looked at under a microscope or sent to a lab for testing.

Additional Resources

Learn more from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists