STIs are sexually transmitted infections that are transmittable through sexual contact. STIs can pass through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. There are many different kinds of STIs and many people who have them do not show any symptoms, so you cannot tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them. The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested by your local healthcare provider. Information about sexual health is confusing, but we hope this web page will answer some of your quesitons and clarify any confusion.

WHAT IS AN STI?

Steps to Prevent Getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection

  1. Wear a latex condom or dental dam every time you have sex. For instructions about how to correctly put on a condom, click HERE.

  2. Be sure that both you and your partner have been tested for STIs and that the results were negative. The best way to know is to suggest that you and your partner get tested together. For locations in Beloit to get tested at a reasonable price, click HERE.

  3. Do not have sex. This is the only 100% guarentee that you will not become infected with an STI.

Scroll down this page to find easy to understand information about the most common STIs.

Chlamydia

What is Chlamydia?

One of the most common STIs that infect both men and women.  If it is left untreated, it can prevent women from getting pregnant in the future or cause other problems during pregnancy.

 

Am I at risk?

Anyone who has unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex may contract Chlamydia. Women who are having sex or have had sex and are under the age of 25 should get tested for Chlamydia every year.

 

If you have sex with a male and he does not ejaculate (cum), you can still get Chlamydia.

 

What are the symptoms? Can I tell by looking at someone?

A person with Chlamydia usually doesn't show any symptoms , so you cannot tell if someone has Chlamydia just by looking at them. However, if symptoms are visible they may not show up until weeks after having sex with your infected partner. They may include:


In women:

  • An abnormal vaginal discharge

  • A burning sensation when urinating.

In men:

  • A discharge from their penis

  • A burning sensation when urinating

  • Pain and swelling in one or both testicles (although this is less common).

What happens if I don't get tested?

At first, you will not be able to notice the damage. However, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems. 

 

If you are a woman, the infection can spread to your uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease which can lead to infertility and long term pelvic pain.

 

Men rarely have health problems linked to chlamydia. Infection sometimes spreads to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles, causing pain and fever. Rarely, chlamydia can prevent a man from being able to have children.

 

Can chlamydia be cured?

Yes, with the right medication. If prescribed, it is important you take all the pills as advised by your health provider and should not be shared with anyone. Reinfection is also common, so it is important to get retested 3 months after you get treated.

 

I was treated for chlamydia, when can I have sex again?

You must wait until you have completed all of the treatment. If your healthcare provider gives you a single dose, then you must wait seven days after that to have sex. If you are prescribed a prescription for 7 days then you need to wait until you have taken all of the medication.

 

This information was excerpted from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) website. Please click on the link to find additional information. http://www.cdc.gov/STD/chlamydia/default.htm

 

 

 

What is Gonorrhea?

A common STI that can lead to infections in the genitals, rectum, or throat. It is common in those ages 15-24.

 

Am I at risk?

Anyone who has unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex may contract gonorrhea. Men who are gay, bisexual, or have sex with men should get tested for gonorrhea every year.

 

What are the symptoms? Can I tell by looking at someone?

A person with gonorrhea usually doesn't show any symptoms , so you cannot tell if someone has gonorrhea just by looking at them. However, if symptoms are visible they may not show up until weeks after having sex with your infected partner. They may include:


In women:

  • Painful or burning sensation when urinating

  • Increased vaginal discharge

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods.

In men:

  • A burning sensation when urinating;

  • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis;

  • Painful or swollen testicles (although this is less common).

What happens if I don't get tested?

Untreated gonorrhea can cause long term health problems.

 

If you are a woman untreated gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease which can lead to infertility, problems during pregnancy, and long term pelvic pain.

 

Men with untreated gonorrhea can lead to pain in the tubes attached to their testicles. It can sometimes also make them sterile (unable to be the father of a child). Rarely, it can spread to your joints and blood, becoming life threatening.

 

Can gonorrhea be cured?

Yes, with the right medication. If prescribed, it is important you take all the pills as advised by your health provider and should not be shared with anyone. Treatment can stop the infection, but not undo permanent damange. 

 

Additionally, there some types of gonorrhea that are hard to treat because the medications no longer stop the infections. That's why it is important to take preventative steps to avoid being at risk for gonorrhea or other STIs.

 

I was treated for gonorrhea, when can I have sex again?

You must wait until you have completed all of the treatment. If your healthcare provider gives you a single dose, then you must wait seven days after that to have sex. If you are prescribed a prescription for 7 days then you need to wait until you have taken all of the medication. The medication does not prevent you from getting infected again if you have unprotected sex with another person who has gonorrhea.

 

This information was excerpted from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) website. Please click on the link to find additional information. http://www.cdc.gov/STD/gonorrhea/default.htm

 

 

 

 

 

Gonorrhea

HIV/ AIDS

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV stands for Human Imunodeficiency Virus, which means that the virus hurts your immune system by killing cells that fight infections and diseases in your body. Your immune system is responsible for keeping your body healthy. It fights against the common cold or the flu (both viruses), however HIV attacks the very cells that fight your cold or flu, so it prevents your immmune system from protecting your body.

 

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which means that your immune system can no longer fight infections or diseases. It is one of the last stages of HIV, when the virus has killed off most of the important cells in your immune system. AIDS is acquired after birth, and cannot be inherited from your parents.

 

Am I at risk?

HIV is transmitted through blood, semen (cum), breast milk, vaginal fluids, and rectal (anal) mucous.

 

Anyone who has unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex is at risk for HIV. Injection drug use is another common way to become infected with HIV.

 

What are the symptoms? Can I tell by looking at someone?

A person with HIV may not show any symptoms for a long period of time, others develop a bad cold within 2-4 of becoming infected. It depends on the person and the stage of the disease. There is no way to know if you have HIV based on the symptoms, so it is important to get tested if you think you are at risk.

What happens if I don't get tested?

If a person doesn't know they have HIV and therefore aren't on HIV medication (antiretroviral therapy), then the virus will kill off the important cells in their immune system, and it will eventually lead to AIDS. Serious side effects occur in late stages of HIV if it is untreated and it will eventually lead to death.

 

Can HIV/AIDS be cured?

There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, however if the virus is caught at an early stage and the individual is taking antiretroviral medication then it will slow the progress of the virus and people have been known to live a normal life span.

 

This information was exerpted from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) website and AIDS.gov. Please click on these links to find additional information.

CDC: Center of Disease Control
 

AIDS.gov

Herpes, Genital

What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is an STI that is caused by two viruses, herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2. In the U.S. 1 out of every 6 people get genital herpes betweent the ages of 14-49. Herpes is a different STI than HPV.

 

Am I at risk?

Anyone who has unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex is at risk for genital herpes. When a person comes in contact with an open sore of their sex partner, the fluids in the sore cause an infection. However, if your partner does not have an open sore, then you can still get herpes because the virus can still spread from skin to skin contact.

 

What are the symptoms? Can I tell by looking at someone?

A person with herpes usually shows  no symptoms or very mild symptoms, which can be mistaken for a different skin condition, so you cannot necessarily tell if someone has herpes just from looking at them. If there are symptoms they usually appear as blisters around the genitals and then they break open and leave painful sores, which take a few weeks to heal. This is often referred to as "having an outbreak," which can also involve fever, body aches, and swollen glands.

If you or your partner find any sores around your genitals or notice a smelly discharge, burning while urinating, or bleeding between periods, especially in women, then you should contact your doctor or local clinic.

 

What happens if I don't get tested?

Herpes can easily spread to other parts of your body if you touch your sores, even your eyes. That's why it is important to talk to your health care provider about how to manage your herpes because it will affect future relationships.

 

Can herpes be cured?

Herpes cannot be cured, but it can be managed. There are medications that minimize the herpes outbreaks and make it less likely that you will pass the infection on to your partner.

 

Can I still have sex if I have herpes?

It is important to talk to your sex partner if you have herpes, so they understand the risks involve. Using condoms decreases the chances of spreading the infection to your partner, but there is still a chance you will spread the infection. Also, not having an outbreak decreases the chances, but an infection can still spread to your sex partner if you don't have an out break.

 

This information was exerpted from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) website. Please click on the link to find additional information. http://www.cdc.gov/STD/herpes/default.htm

HPV

What is HPV?
HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus and is the most common STI. Most people who have HPV doesn't even know they have it. It is a different infection than herpes and HIV.

 

Am I at risk?

Anyone who has unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex is at risk for HPV. It is also possible to spread HPV from skin-to-skin contact.

 

What are the symptoms? Can I tell by looking at someone?

In 90% of HPV cases, the immune system gets rid of the infection within 2 years. However, there is no way to know if a person's infection is going to lead to health problems. Most of the time you cannot tell if someone has HPV just by looking at them.

 

Some types of HPV cause genital warts, and rarely, warts in the throat. Additionally, some types of HPV can lead to cancer.

 

What happens if I don't get tested?

Most people will never know they have HPV. However, some types of HPV can lead to painful symptoms like genital warts or cancer. That's why it is important to get routine check ups to prevent serious health problems from HPV.

 

Can HPV be cured?

There is no cure for the virus, but there are ways to treat the symptoms of HPV. Some treatment options for the more common symptoms are:

 

Genital warts can be treated with medication. There are different treatment options, so you should talk to your healthcare provider to decide which one is best for you.

Abnormal cervical cells can appear on a Pap Test and usually become normal cells, but if they stay abnormal they may develop into cancer. By treating the abnormal cervical cells up front they can work to prevent cervical cancer from developing.

Cervical Cancer treatment is most successful when diagnosed in an early stage. The treatment process depends on the patient's medical hsitory and the stage of the cancer.

 

 

 Click HERE for more information on preventative HPV vaccines for preteens and young people.  

 

This information was excerpted from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) website. Please click on the link to find additional information. http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/

Syphilis

What is syphilis?
Syphilis is a STI that can lead to long term health problems and death if left untreated. There are different stages of this infection, primary, secondary, latent, and late syphilis. The symptoms are different depending on the stage.

 

Am I at risk?

Anyone who has unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex is at risk for syphilis. It is also possible for an infected mother to spread syphilis to her unborn child. You should get tested regularly for syphilis if you are pregnant, are a man who has sex with men, have HIV, or have a partner who has tested positive for syphilis.

 

What are the symptoms? Can I tell by looking at someone?

There are a lot of different possible symptoms for syphilis and some people don't show any symptoms at all, so there is no way to tell if someone has syphilis just by looking at them.

 

Can syphilis be cured?

Yes, with antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider you can cure syphilis. Only a health care provider can determine if you have syphilis, so if you think you are at risk it is important to get tested.

 

I have been treated. Can I get syphilis again?

Yes, getting syphilis once does not prevent you from getting it again. It's important to communicate with your sex partners to make sure they have been tested because you cannot tell if they have syphilis just by looking at them.

 

 

This information was excerpted from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) website. Please click on the link to find additional information. http://www.cdc.gov/STD/syphilis/default.htm