Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are just what they sound like: infections that you can get by having sex and are spread through sexual contact. They are very common and may be very contagious, sort of like a cold or the flu. The difference is STIs can damage your body and even kill you.
STIs are caused by bacterial or viral infections and you may or may not have any symptoms. You can get an STI through vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected person by making contact with his or her genitals, mouth, rectum, or body fluids. You can also get certain STIs through sharing drug needles with someone who is infected. If you are infected, you can pass the infection on to others the same way. If you contract a bacterial infection, you can treat it with antibiotics. A viral infection can’t be cured, but you can treat your symptoms with medication.
The Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infections
The most common STIs include:
How to Avoid Getting an STI
Risk factors for contracting STIs include:
To reduce your chances of contracting an STI:
Sexually Transmitted Infections and Pregnancy
Having or contracting an STI while you are pregnant can harm your baby. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause problems ranging from eye infections to pneumonia. Syphilis can cause miscarriage or stillbirth. You can pass HIV on to your baby during a vaginal birth. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant and you have or have had an STI, or your partner has or has had an STI, it’s important to let your doctor know. Tests for some STIs are routine during pregnancy but for the safety of your baby, your doctor needs to have the best information about your health history.
If you think you might have an STI, make an appointment with a provider by calling 307.637.7700. He or she can make a diagnosis, then prescribe medication to treat your infection or your symptoms.