Midwife Matters

Pregnancy preparations, women's health, and care options

How can I protect myself and my partner against STI’s?

The only way to guarantee you won’t contract a sexually transmitted infection is not to have sex. However, there are ways to reduce your risk of getting an STI including:

  • Having one, uninfected sexual partner. Your risk of contracting STI’s increases with having multiple sexual partners, and increases dramatically if you have sex with an infected person.
  • Having sex with a condom. The use of a condom can protect you by preventing contact with skin and body fluids that may carry infection. Anal or oral sex without a condom is particularly risky.
  • Using spermicidal foams, creams and jellies containing nonoxynol-9 with a condom. Nonoxynol-9 has been found to kill many of the bacteria and viruses that cause STDs.
  • If you have one, monogamous partner, both of you should be tested to make sure neither is infected.

 

STI’s are increasingly common in the US today. Anyone can get a sexually transmitted disease. However, STI’s are easy to prevent.

Facts about Common STI’s

STD

How you get it

Symptoms

How to know if you have it

Treatable?

Therapy

Result if left untreated

Chlamydia Sex with an infected person. Pain and burning when urinating, discharge. Lab exam of fluid from infected area. Yes. Antibiotic pills that kill bacteria. Pelvic pains, pelvic inflammatory disease, sterility.
Crabs Sex with an infected person. Sharing clothes, bed sheets or towels with an infected person. Severe itching. Visible. Yes. Over-the-counter or prescription lotion. Continuing symptoms.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Sex with an infected person. No symptoms. Fever, fatigue; or severe illness in people with damaged immune systems. Lab exam of fluids or skin; blood test. No. Shots to slow progress of serious eye infection in people with immune damage. Healthy people—symptoms go away but may come back. People with immune damage—mononucleosis, blindness, blood disorders, lung damage.
Genital herpes Sex with an infected person. Kissing, touching and caressing infected areas. Pain and burning when urinating, red bumps or blisters in genital area. Lab exam of fluid from the sore. Yes (but can’t be cured). Pills and ointment. Prolonged and more severe symptoms.
Genital warts (Human Papillomavirus) Sex with an infected person. Bumpy warts on or near genital area. Visible. Yes (but can’t be cured). Drugs (pills) that slow progress of virus, drugs that fight infections. Dangerous infections, virus progresses faster.
Gonorrhea Sex with an infected person. Pain or burning when urinating, yellow discharge. Lab exam of fluid from infected area. Yes. Antibiotic pills that kill bacteria. Pelvic infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, sterility.
Hepatitis B Sex with an infected person. Contaminated blood. Practices that put you in contact with the blood of an infected person (i.e., sharing drug needles). Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, yellow skin. Blood tests. Yes (but can’t be cured). Pills and shots to treat symptoms or complications, not to treat disease. Liver damage.
HIV Sex with an infected person. Contaminated blood. Practice that put you in contact with the blood of an infected person (i.e., anal sex, sharing drug needles) HIV symptoms can appear in different forms and may not all appear in any one person. Any or all of them may be cause by conditions other than HIV. Skin rashes, boils or sores; growth on or below the skin; lumps in armpits, neck or groin; persistent diarrhea and weight loss; fever, dry cough, dizziness or loss of memory. Blood tests. Yes (but can’t be cured). Drugs (pills) that slow progress of virus, drugs that fight infections. Dangerous infections, virus progresses faster.
Syphilis Sex with an infected person. Chancre sore, rash, genital ulcers. Lab exam of tissue, fluids/blood test. Yes. Penicillin shots to kill bacteria. Blindness, heart disease, brain damage.
Trichomoniasis Sex with an infected person. Itching in or around vagina, strawberry-colored rash. Lab exam of fluids, urine test. Yes. Pills. Men—prostate damage;       Women—continuing symptoms

« Sexually Transmitted Infections


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