STDs: Common Symptoms & Tips on
What are sexually
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections you can get by
having sex with someone who has an infection. These infections are
usually passed by having intercourse, but they can also be passed
through other types of sex. STDs can be caused by viruses or bacteria.
STDs caused by viruses include hepatitis B, herpes, HIV and the human
papilloma virus (HPV). STDs caused by bacteria include chlamydia,
gonorrhea and syphilis.
Am I at risk for having an
If you've ever had sex, you may be at risk for having an STD. Your
risk is higher if you have had many sex partners, have had sex with
someone who has had many partners or have had sex without using condoms.
Some common symptoms of STDs are listed in the box below.
Should I be checked for STDs?
See your doctor if you're at risk for having an STD, if you have
any STD symptoms or if you have concerns about whether you have one.
STDs can cause problems if left untreated.
chlamydia can lead to problems that can cause women not to be able
to have children. HPV can lead to cancer of the cervix or penis, and
syphilis can lead to paralysis, mental problems, heart damage,
blindness and death.
How are STDs diagnosed?
Most STDs can be diagnosed through an exam by your doctor, a
culture of the secretions from your vagina or penis, or through a blood
Can STDs be prevented?
Yes. The only sure way to prevent STDs is by not having sex. If
you have sex, you can lower your risk by only having sex with someone
who isn't having sex with anyone else and who doesn't have an STD.
You should always use condoms when having sex, including oral and
What else should I do?
Limit the number of sex partners you have. Ask your partner if he
or she has an STD and tell your partner if you have had one. Talk
about whether you've both been tested for STDs and whether you
should be tested.
Look for signs of an STD in your sex
partner. But remember that STDs don't always show their symptoms.
Don't have sex if you or your partner are being treated for an STD.
Wash your genitals with soap and water and urinate soon after
you have sex. This may help clean away some germs before they have a
chance to infect you.
Do condoms prevent STDs?
Male latex condoms can reduce your risk of getting an STD if used
correctly (see the box below). Be sure to use them every time you
have sex, during all types of sex, including vaginal, anal and oral
sex. Female condoms aren't as effective as male condoms, but should
be used when a man won't use a male condom.
though, that condoms aren't 100% safe and can't protect you from
coming in contact with some sores, such as those that can occur with
herpes, or warts, which can occur with HPV infection.
Should I use a spermicide to help
No. It was once thought that spermicides with nonoxynol-9 could
help prevent STDs much like they help prevent pregnancy -- by damaging
the organisms that cause the diseases. New research has shown that
nonoxynol-9 can also irritate a woman’s vagina and cervix, actually
increasing the risk of STD infection.
Be sure to also check the ingredients of any other sex-related
products you own, such as lubricants and condoms. Some brands of these
products may have nonoxynol-9 added to them. If you are unsure if your
spermicide or any other product contains nonoxynol-9, ask your doctor
before using it.