Some infections can pass to another person through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, by genital contact and through sharing of sex toys. Infections that spread in this way are known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
More than 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites can cause STIs. Bacterial STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis among others. Viral STIs include genital herpes, HIV/AIDS, and genital warts among others. Parasitic STIs include trichomoniasis among others. While usually spread by sex, some STIs can also be spread by non-sexual contact with contaminated blood and tissues.
STIs are spread in the following ways:
• Having unprotected (without a condom) vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has an STI. It can be difficult to tell if someone has an STI. STIs can be spread even if there are no signs or symptoms.
• During genital touching. It is possible to get some STIs, such as syphilis and herpes, without having sex.
• Through sexual contact between women who have sex only with other women.
Symptoms and signs may include vaginal discharge, penile discharge, ulcers on or around the genitals, and pelvic pain. Other signs and symptoms include the following:
If you suspect you have these or other STIs or that you may have been exposed to one, see your doctor for testing. Timely diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid or delay more-severe, potentially life-threatening health problems and to avoid infecting others.
The most effective way of preventing STIs is by not having sex – vaginal, oral, or anal. If you do have sex, lower your risk of getting an STI with the following steps:
The steps work best when used together. No single step can protect you from every single type of STI.
Most sexually transmitted infections can be treated and it is usually best if treatment is started as soon as possible. Of the most common infections, syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis are curable, while herpes, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and HPV are treatable but not curable. Some infections, such as HIV, genital warts and genital herpes, never leave the body but there are drugs available that can reduce the symptoms. If left untreated, many sexually transmitted infections can be painful or uncomfortable, and can permanently damage your health and fertility, and can be passed on to someone else.
If you are sexually active, talk to your doctor about STI testing. Which tests you will need and how often you need to get them will depend on you and your partner’s sexual history. If you have an STI, your doctor might want your partner to come in for testing or prescribe medicines for you both.Source: