Options Resource Clinic
Options Resource Clinic

Sexually Transmitted Infections

General STI Information

When you are sexually active, pregnancy is usually the greatest concern. You may be afraid of what your parents or boyfriend will do if you become pregnant. You may also be concerned that you will not be able to finish school or pursue your career. While pregnancy is something to be very concerned about, sexually transmitted infections are very dangerous to you and your health.

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STD & STI Information

Chlamydia

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common STI caused by the bacteria Chlamydia Trachomatis. It can cause permanent and lasting damage to a woman's reproductive organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries) if left untreated. It is the most frequently reported bacterial STI in the United States.

Often Chlamydia shows no signs or symptoms, yet can cause irreversible damage.

Chlamydia can affect both men and women at any time regardless of age. It is spread through body fluids during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Condoms offer a measure of protection against Chlamydia, but even with protection you can still contract the disease. Chlamydia can also be found in the throats of women and men who have oral sex with an infected partner.

The decision to have sex is a very important one, and there are lots of things to think about. Sexual relationships affect your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Whether you are considering sexual activity, or you have already had sex, there are risks for pregnancy and STIs even when using birth control or condoms. The only sure way to avoid getting an STI or to prevent pregnancy is to practice abstinence. Once you are in a long-term, mutually monogamous and committed relationship with an uninfected partner (in marriage), you will have no reason to worry about getting an STI.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria Gonorrhea. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that over 700,000 people in the U.S. develop a new gonorrhea infection each year.

Gonorrhea can be spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, anus, and mother to baby during delivery. Ejaculation does not have to occur for it to be transmitted or acquired.

Not all people who contract gonorrhea experience symptoms, but an infection can cause serious complications. Men may experience symptoms such as: burning sensation while urinating, white, yellow or green discharge from the penis, and sometimes pain and swelling in the testicles. Some signs of gonorrhea in women may be: discomfort or burning while urinating, increased vaginal discharge, and bleeding between periods.

Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, but may cause serious side effects. Some forms of gonorrhea are drug-resistant, making treatment of this disease more difficult. 

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes (HSV-2) is a sexually transmitted infection. Many people infected with this disease do not have any symptoms. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break leaving sores that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur. Infected people can also have pain or burning during urination.

HSV-1 most of the time is oral herpes, which causes cold sores. HSV-2 is typically found in the genital area. HSV-1 isn't generally sexually related; however, it is becoming common to find both versions of the virus in the genital and oral areas due to oral sex.

There is no cure for genital herpes; however, there are medications that can help suppress and/or reduce outbreaks. A person with genital herpes may be contagious and not be aware of it. Between outbreaks, it lies dormant in a nerve root. A variety of stressors can cause the virus to emerge resulting in an active infection. Even correct use of a condom does not guarantee protection from getting or spreading genital herpes.

Syphilis

Syphilis

Syphilis is often referred to as "The Great Imitator" because it's symptoms are sometimes very similar to the symptoms of other diseases or disorders. It is passed through direct contact with a syphilis sore. It cannot be contracted through contact with objects like toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools, bathtubs, clothing, or eating utensils.

Syphilis symptoms occur in three stages, but people infected with Syphilis may not show any symptoms for years. However, they are at risk of suffering health complications later if they do not receive treatment. Even if a person has no symptoms, they can still pass and spread the disease.

If caught early, Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, but not without the possibility of it causing serious damage. The use of a condom does not guarantee protection from getting or spreading Syphilis. 

Human Papillomavirus

Human Papillomavirus

The Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection with about 20 million Americans infected. About half of sexually active men and women will acquire an HPV infection at some point in their life.  Currently, there are over 40 different types that can infect the genital areas of both men and women. Most people who have HPV do not know that they have the infection. Even if there are no symptoms it can still be spread to your partner. This disease is important because it is responsible for abnormal pap smears and is a major cause of cervical cancer.

Those who have symptoms of HPV may experience;

  • Genital warts - Genital warts usually appear as small bumps or groups of bumps most often in the genital area. They can be raised or flat, single or multiple, small or large, and sometimes cauliflower shaped. Warts may appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected person. Or, they may not appear at all. If left untreated, genital warts may go away, remain unchanged, or increase in size or number. This form of the disease will not turn into cancer.
  • Cervical Cancer - Cervical cancer does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced. For this reason, it is important for women to get a regular pap test to detect it early. The pap test detects microscopic changes that HPV causes. Usually, these changes can be detcted and treated long before cancer develops. 

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a serious infection that usually involves the fallopian tubes and can be caused by many different bacteria. In addition to infecting the fallopian tubes (the tubes that carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus), PID can also infect the tissues around and in the uterus and ovaries. It is caused by a number of different bacteria, but is most frequently caused by Gonorrhea and Chlamydia often both at the same time.

One way that Pelvic Inflammatory Disease can occur is when bacteria (in many cases from a sexually transmitted infection) move from the vagina into the uterus. This can result in serious consequences including infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube or elsewhere outside of the womb), abscess formation, and chronic pelvic pain.

The symptoms of PID can range from none to severe. About two-thirds of the time, PID goes undetected by health care providers. If symptoms occur they may include: lower back pain, unusual discharge, odor, painful urination, and irregular menstrual bleeding. If PID is left untreated it can cause serious, permanent damage. If detected it can be treated with antibiotics, but the possibility of long-term damage still exists.

If you have had PID before, you are more at risk for another episode, which will cause further damage to your reproductive organs. One out of every 10 women is left infertile after one episode of PID.


 This information is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice.