Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's)

The only way to completely protect yourself from acquiring an STI is to avoid sex and any type of sexual contact.

If you are sexually active, you should be screened routinely for STI's. Many experts recommend once a year unless you notice signs or symptoms of an STI, in which case you should consult a physician or testing facility immediately.

The Mayo Clinic recommends Pap tests for women age 21 or older or no later than three years after the first time they have intercourse. This test screens for cancer or changes that are precancerous.

The Student Wellness Center offers free HIV testing periodically throughout the academic year. You must make an appointment before the testing date to be tested. You will receive the results of your test within 15 minutes of testing. For more information on testing and upcoming testing dates, contact the center.

STI Testing Resources

Prices and types of test vary. Contact the facility of your choice for more information.

Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Men and Women who are sexually active should be screened for STDs once a year, or visit a physician ANYTIME they notice changes or feel something isn’t right.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs. It is caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis.

Transmission

Chlamydia can be contracted through vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can also be passed from mother to her baby during child birth.

Smyptoms

It is known as the “silent disease” because symptoms are not always present – if left untreated, Chlamydia can cause future complications (see below)

Those who do have symptoms will usually notice them 1 – 3 weeks after exposure.

Women who have symptoms may have: abnormal vaginal discharge, burning when urinating, pain in the lower abdomen, pain during intercourse, pain in the lower back, nausea, fever, bleeding between periods.

Men with symptoms may have: discharge from and/or itching or burning around the opening of the penis, burning when urinating, swelling in the testicles.

Treatment

Some tests can be done with urine; others require a sample from the vagina or penis. Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics.

Future Implications

Chlamydia that is left untreated in women can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, fallopian tube infection. Permanent damage can result in the fallopian tubes, uterus and tissues surrounding the genitals. This damage can lead to potential tubal pregnancies, chronic pelvic pain and infertility.

Prevention

Abstinence is the best way to avoid transmission. Men using a new latex condom during intercourse or when receiving oral sex, can reduce the chances of transmission. Latex dental dams used correctly can aid in transmission reduction for oral sex on a women or oral to anal sex.

You Should Know

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2008, 1,210,523 cases of Chlamydia were reported from the 50 states and District of Columbia.

Having Chlamydia raises your chances of acquiring HIV if exposed.

Gonorrhea

A common STD that can grow easily in the warm moist areas of the reproductive tracts of men and women. It can also grow in the anus, mouth, throat, and eyes.

Transmission

Gonorrhea is passed by contact with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus. Ejaculation is not required for transmission to occur.

Smyptoms

Most people with Gonorrhea have no symptoms.

Men who have symptoms may notice them from two days up to thirty after infection occurs. Burning while urinating, discharge (white, yellow or green) from the penis, painful and/or swollen testicles.

Women usually don’t have symptoms, but are usually mild in those who do. They can include burning while urinating, increased vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods.

Treatment

Some tests can be done with urine; others require a sample from the vagina or penis. Most Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics; however there is a new drug resistant strain that has spread to the United States.

Future Implications

Undiagnosed Gonorrhea can cause serious health problems in men and women. In women it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which can lead to damaged fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. In men it can cause epididymitis which can lead to infertility. For both it can spread to the blood or joints, creating a life threatening situation.

Prevention

Abstinence is the best way to avoid transmission. Men using a new latex condom during intercourse or when receiving oral sex, can reduce the chances of transmission. Latex dental dams used correctly can aid in transmission reduction for oral sex on a women or oral to anal sex.

You Should Know

Having Gonorrhea raises your chances of acquiring HIV if exposed.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is an STD caused by the Herpes virus.

Transmission

Genital Herpes is passed by contact with the penis, vagina, and mouth. The virus can be released from sores that the virus causes, but can also be released from the skin that has no visible sore. It can be transmitted from mouth sores to genitals.

Smyptoms

One or more blisters around the genitals or rectum. They can appear at anytime and usually take a couple of weeks to heal.

Treatment

It can be diagnosed by visual inspection from a physician during an outbreak, a test from a sore sample, or a blood test when an outbreak is not present. Genital Herpes cannot be cured. It can however be managed with antiviral medication and daily suppressive therapy.

Prevention

Abstinence is the best way to avoid transmission. Men using a new latex condom during intercourse or when receiving oral sex, can reduce the chances of transmission. Latex dental dams used correctly can aid in transmission reduction for oral sex on a women or oral to anal sex. If you chose to do drugs, always use a clean needle and never share needles with anyone else. REMEMBER – part of the body that is not covered by a condom can pass the virus.

You Should Know

Genital Herpes can cause psychological distress in people who know they are infected. Because it is a virus that cannot be cured, those infected should inform sexual partners before contact even in latent periods, as the disease can be spread even when no sores are present.

HPV - Human Papillomavirus

Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. At least 50% of all sexually active men and women will have HPV at some point in their lives. There are more than 40 strains that can infect the mouth, throat and genitals of both men and women. Most people who contract HPV never know they have it.

Transmission

HPV is passed through vaginal, anal and oral sex, and also from skin to skin contact of the genitals (or genital to genital contact). It can be passed between opposite and same sex partners. It can also be passed during intercourse when a condom is used correctly if the virus is on a part of the genitals that is not covered by a condom.

Smyptoms

Most people do not develop any symptoms. Genital warts can be caused by HPV.

Treatment

There is currently no test to determine if someone has HPV. There are tests to screen for cervical cancer. 90% of cases of HPV will be cleared up by the body’s immune system within two years of contraction. There are no treatments for the disease its self, only for the other diseases it can cause.

Future Implications

Some strains of HPV can cause cancer of the cervix. Less commonly, cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, tongue, tonsils and throat can be caused by HPV.

Prevention

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Source: http://cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can be spread through oral, vaginal or anal sex and also through sharing infected needles. Acute Hepatitis B will go away. Some people develop chronic Hepatitis B which can lead to serious health problems.

Transmission

Through vaginal, anal or oral sex, needle sharing, blood exposure, body piercings or tattoos, toiletry sharing (toothbrushes, razors, etc.).

Smyptoms

Many people with Hepatitis B have no symptoms. In those who do, they will be similar to the flu: tired, no appetite, mild fever, headache, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, achy, rash, jaundice.

Treatment

It is diagnosed through a blood test. Acute Hepatitis B usually goes away on its own. Those with the chronic condition need to be under a doctor’s care to manage conditions that result from the virus.

Future Implications

Those with chronic Hepatitis B can develop liver problems and liver damage.

Prevention

Abstinence is the best way to avoid transmission. Men using a new latex condom during intercourse or when receiving oral sex, can reduce the chances of transmission. Latex dental dams used correctly can aid in transmission reduction for oral sex on a women or oral to anal sex. If you chose to do drugs, always use a clean needle and never share needles with anyone else.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial STD that is often called “the great imitator” because its signs and symptoms are difficult to distinguish from many other diseases.

Transmission

Syphilis is transmitted through direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal or oral sex. These sores mainly occur on the outer genitals, vagina, anus or rectum. Syphilis sores can also occur in the mouth and on the lips.

Smyptoms

Most people with Syphilis do not have any symptoms. Even the sores can go undetected. Syphilis usually occurs in stages:

Stage 1 – a person will have a single sore at the site of infection (called a chancre). It will usually heal without treatment.

Stage 2 – If the person does not get treatment, they will enter stage 2 which is marked by a skin rash and mucous membrane lesions. Other symptoms include weight loss, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue.

Late stages – If still not treated, a person with syphilis enters a latent stage that can last for years. This stage appears in about 15% of people not treated for the disease and can appear up to twenty years after infection. This is a very dangerous stage as the disease can damage internal organs including the brain. Muscle coordination impairment, blindness, paralysis and dementia – even death can result.

Treatment

Examination of material from a sore under a microscope and/ or a blood test. Syphilis is easy to cure in the early stages with penicillin or other antibiotics if a person is allergic.

Prevention

Abstinence is the best way to avoid transmission. Men using a new latex condom during intercourse or when receiving oral sex, can reduce the chances of transmission. Latex dental dams used correctly can aid in transmission reduction for oral sex on a women or oral to anal sex. REMEMBER – part of the body that is not covered by a condom can pass the disease.

You Should Know

Having Syphilis raises your chances of acquiring HIV if exposed.