Bacterial and viral STD/STIs can cause observable symptoms, but many infected people don’t experience any symptoms at all. Common symptoms of bacterial or viral STD/STIs include rashes, bumps or sores around the genital area; pelvic, abdominal or back pain; and an unusual discharge from the penis or vagina.
Bacterial STD/STIs are caused by bacteria, so they are curable with medication like antibiotics. However, any complications caused before treatment are irreversible. Complications associated with untreated bacterial STD/STIs are things like vision damage, heart damage and blockages of the epididymis and fallopian tubes, which can cause infertility.
Bacterial STD/STIs include:
Viral STD/STIs cannot be cured with medication. Although there are treatments to help or suppress the symptoms, there’s nothing doctors can do to get rid of it.
Viral STD/STIs include:
For more information, see the contraception section.
Contracting an STD/STI can be a life-changing event. While some STD/STIs can pass through the body unnoticed, others can cause problems that stretch far into the future. When persons expose themselves to an STD/STI, they can potentially be exposing themselves to infertility, life long relationship issues and even death.
The common symptoms of STD/STIs are things like rashes, bumps, or sores around the genital area, pelvic, abdominal, or back pain, and an unusual discharge from the penis or vagina. However, lots of people with STD/STIs have no symptoms at all. The only way to know if you have an STD/STI is to get tested by a doctor.
You can’t. Although some STD/STIs cause observable symptoms in some affected people, many people with STD/STIs show no symptoms at all.
Title X family planning clinics offer reduced or no cost STD/STI testing. The website http://www.hhs.gov/opa can help you locate a Title X clinic based on your zip code. Your county health department is also an excellent resource for finding affordable STD/STI testing.
All state give minors some control over keeping their sexual health confidential, but the extent varies from state to state. Some states allow minors to confidentially access testing for all STD/STIs except for HIV, and some leave confidentiality completely up to discretion of the minor’s physician. Many offer unimpeded access to confidential sexual health screening, while others restrict it by age. If you access this handy chart, http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MASS.pdf , you will be able to see where your state falls in regards to confidentiality laws.
The only 100 % effective way to protect yourself against an STD/STI is to practice abstinence and delay sexual activity. However, if you do engage in sexual activity, it is important to use a condom or dental dam during each sexual act, as they can both provide protection against certain STD/STIs.
Everyone who engages in sexual activity is at risk for contracting HIV, regardless of sexual orientation. The idea that HIV is a “gay disease” is a common misconception. In reality, rates of HIV infection are rising the fastest among young people ages 15-24.
There are two vaccines that offer protection against certain strains of HPV. HPV is a viral STD/STI that has many different strains, some of which can cause cancer and genital warts. Cervarex protects against the two most common cancer causing strains, and Guardasil protects against both the cancer causing strains and the genital warts causing strains. Most doctors now recommend that their patients receive an HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active, and many schools now require it.