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How to know you have a Sexually transmitted infection (STI)

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) also known as sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection passed from one party to another through sexual contact.

You can get an STI from sexual interactions that involve the mouth, vagina, anus and penis. STIs are caused by bacteria, yeast, parasites and viruses. There are more than 20 types of STDs. The most common ones are HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia.

Most STDs affect both men and women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can be more severe for women. If a pregnant woman has an STD, for example, it can cause serious health problems for the baby.

How do you know you have an STI?

Sometimes STDs don’t come with obvious symptoms. But if they’re to come with obvious signs, they may include one or more of the following:


  • Bumps or sores near the anus, penis, mouth or vagina.
  • Severe itching near the penis or vagina.
  • Aches, chills, pains and fever.
  • Swelling or redness near the sexual organs.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Painful or difficult urination.
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina.
  • Painful sex

It is important to talk to a doctor when presented with one or more of these symptoms. The doctor can perform tests to ascertain that one truly has an STD.

What is the treatment for an STI?

Appropriate use of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading STDs. Antibiotics can treat STDs caused by bacteria, yeast, or parasites. There is no cure for STDs caused by a virus, but medicines can often help with the symptoms and keep the disease under control.

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