Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

A Comprehensive Guide to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are serious health conditions that can be passed from person to person, most commonly through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Some STIs can be just as deadly as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and many, if left untreated, can cause severe and lifelong damage. The bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause sexually transmitted infections can be spread through blood, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, and other bodily fluids.

Ending HIV, OHHPC’s mission is to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by providing appropriate education and connection to treatment and services.

OHHPC is an advisory body that works with the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service on HIV Prevention education and programs.

Organizations and individuals can now order free condoms online. To reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs in Oklahoma, we are making them readily available as part of an essential prevention strategy. Sexually transmitted infection risk factors include improper or inconsistent use of condoms. It is possible to have sexually transmitted diseases with no symptoms. Some people experience symptoms of an infection, like discharge, burning, or itching in the genital area. Other people can have a sexually transmitted infection and have no symptoms at all.

Visit our website for a symptom guide that will help you understand the severity and scope of sexually transmitted infections, risk factors, effects, and common signs and symptoms.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Symptoms in Males

Signs and symptoms of chlamydia in males include

  • Urinary discomfort
  • White, cloudy, or watery discharge from the penis.
  • Urination or itchiness in the urethra.
  • Testicular discomfort.

Learn more about Signs and symptoms of chlamydia in males

Gonorrhea symptoms in men include:

● Urge to urinate frequently.
● Urination that causes a burning or painful sensation.
● Painful or swollen testicles.
● A lump on the testicle.
● Bleeding or discharge from the rectum.
● Fungal infection.
● Itching, bleeding, or discharge from the anal cavity.
● Penile discharge that is irregular and can be yellowish, clear, milky, or greenish.
 
Learn more about Gonorrhea symptoms in men

Signs of syphilis if you are a male include:

● Visible sores known as a ‘chancre’ appear in the anus, on the penis, front hole, testicles, or sometimes in or around the mouth.
● Rash on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or other parts of the body.
● Drastic health problems with your heart, brain, and bones in the future.
● Blindness, tumors, paralysis, extensive nervous system damage, and even death.
 

Signs of trichomoniasis if you are a male include:

● Urinary or ejaculatory discomfort.
● More frequent and urgent urination
● Penile discharge is thin and milky white.
● Soreness, swelling, and pain on the foreskin or near the penis head.
● The prostate gland is inflamed.
● Infertility is caused by decreased sperm motility and viability.
 

Signs of hepatitis if you are a male include:

● Spider veins develop in the skin.
● Itching of the skin.
● Bleeding and bruising are less severe.
● Leg swelling.
● Cirrhosis of the liver.
● Blood vessel enlargement.
● Gallstones.
● Yellowing of the skin or eyes
 

Signs of HIV if you are a male include:

● Sores on the penis.
● Low sex drive, erectile dysfunction.
● Sudden, unexplained weight loss.
● Breathing problems and a chronic cough that lasts a long time.
● Burning during urination.
● Low-grade fever.
● Flulike symptoms in the first few weeks after exposure.
 
Learn more about Signs of HIV in males

Signs of HPV if you are a male include:

● Warts on the tip or shaft of the penis or in the anal region.
● Small, flesh-colored, or grey swellings in your genital area.
● A cluster of warts that form a cauliflower shape.
● Itching or discomfort in your genital area.
● Bleeding during intercourse.
Learn more about Signs of HPV in males

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Symptoms in Females

Chlamydia women's symptoms include:

● A burning or painful sensation when urinating.
● White, yellow, or grey vaginal discharge that may be smelly.
● Itching or burning in the vaginal area.
● Painful periods.
● Dull pain in the lower abdomen.

Signs of gonorrhea if you are a female include:

● It hurts to urinate.
● There is a greater than usual amount of vaginal discharge.
● You’re bleeding during or after sex.
● Inflammation of the rectum lining.

Signs of syphilis if you are a female include:

● Firm, round, painless sores at the spot of infection.
● Fever and swollen lymph glands
● Multiple large (one- to three-centimeter), raised, gray or white sores in the mouth, vagina, or anus.
● Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
● Patchy hair loss and weight loss.

Signs of trichomoniasis if you are a female include:

● A frothy vaginal discharge that is clear, green, yellow, or grey.

● The vaginal discharge frequently has a foul or fishy odor.

● There is blood in the vaginal discharge.
● Swelling in the genital area.
● Itching and irritation of the vaginal area.
● Painful intercourse.
● Urinary discomfort or burning.
● Urge to urinate frequently.

Signs of hepatitis if you are a female include:

● Fatigue.
● Abdominal discomfort.
● Muscle and joint pain.
● Poor appetite.
● Itchy skin.
● Fluid retention in the stomach.
● Swollen legs.
● Drastic weight loss.
● Yellowing of the skin or eyes

Signs of HIV if you are a female include:

● Fungal infections, especially vaginal yeast infections.
● Cervical dysplasia.
● Night sweats.
● Flulike symptoms in the first few weeks after exposure
● Sore throat.

● Swollen lymph nodes.

● Unexplained weight loss
Learn more about Signs of HIV in females

Signs of HPV if you are a female include:

● An open sore that does not heal within a month.
● A lump in the vagina.
● Thickening of the skin.
● Swollen lymph nodes.
● A persistent sore throat.
Learn more about Signs of HPV in females

Causes of STIs

STIs are primarily caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Bacterial-caused STIs:

STIs caused by viruses:

1. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
2. Hepatitis-B (Serum Hepatitis)
3. Genital herpes
4. Genital warts

STIs caused by parasites:

1. Trichomoniasis
2. Yeast infections

Types of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)are serious health problems that must be dealt with immediately. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause severe and lifelong health problems and some can be deadly.. Among the more serious ones are gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, syphilis, and hepatitis-B. Some STDs are explained below:

1. Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacterium that causes it. The vast majority of Chlamydia infections are asymptomatic. If the bacteria are in your throat, you may experience a sore throat, but you may not notice any symptoms.

Chlamydia can be contracted through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex, as well as if infected bodily fluid enters your eye (chlamydial conjunctivitis). Even if there is no penetration, orgasm, or ejaculation, it is possible to contract chlamydia from someone. Chlamydia cannot be spread through casual contacts, such as kissing and hugging, or by sharing baths, towels, swimming pools, toilet seats, or cutlery.

Chlamydia transmission occurs via vaginal, anal, or oral sex, either through infected sperm or via infected tissue in the mouth. Chlamydia infection can be passed from pregnant females to their babies and can result eye inflammation and pneumonia in newborns.

2. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhea. It spreads easily from person to person via unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex, or by sharing vibrators or other sex toys that have not been washed or covered with a new condom each time they are used.

The bacteria can infect the cervix (the entrance to the womb), the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the body), the rectum, and, less frequently, the throat or eyes. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause permanent blindness in a newborn. Sharing kisses, hugs, swimming pools, toilet seats, baths, towels, cups, plates, or cutlery does not spread gonorrhea. Bacteria cannot survive outside the human body for long. Gonorrhea's early symptoms include itching in or around your anus.

3. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. A small, painless sore known as a chancre is the first sign of syphilis. It can appear on the sexual organs, the rectum, the lips, or the inside of the mouth. The sore will heal on its own, but the infection can still be transmitted. A rash on the hands and feet is also common and it may also appear on the arms, legs, or torso.

Syphilis is a difficult infection to identify. It is possible to have it for years without experiencing any symptoms, making regular testing and prevention through the proper use of condoms essential. Early syphilis signs and symptoms are frequently overlooked. Syphilis prevention can be effective, especially in the early stages. Antibiotics can be used to treat it, especially in the early stages. If not treated, it can cause disability, neurological disorders, and even death. Syphilis can be passed from a pregnant female to her child before or during birth and can result in bone deformities, blindness, deafness and stillbirth.

The only way to avoid syphilis transmission and other STIs is to refrain from engaging in sexual activity. The proper use of a condom during a sexual interaction can prevent many STIs. Syphilis symptoms in men and women include slight fever, tiredness, sore throat, swollen glands, headache, and muscle aches.

4. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasite. It usually appears within a month of infection. Once infected, you can spread trichomoniasis through vaginal-penile or vaginal-vaginal intercourse, anal sex, and oral sex. In most cases, it is not serious and can be treated.

Trichomoniasis can be diagnosed by taking a sample of urine or fluid from your genitals and examining it under a microscope to find the parasite. Treatment will get rid of the parasite, but infection can reoccur. If you do not receive treatment, trichomoniasis can cause other health problems, and increase your chances of contracting or spreading other STIs.

Although it is uncommon, it is possible for pregnant females to transmit the infection to their baby during birth.

5. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a persistent, potentially fatal illness that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is a virus that attacks and weakens a person's immune system. The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from germs and diseases.

AIDS is diagnosed when an HIV-positive person's immune system becomes so weak that it can no longer fight off a variety of health problems that it would normally be able to handle. The spread of HIV from person to person is referred to as HIV transmission. Certain activities, such as sex or injection drug use, can transmit HIV.

The best HIV prevention method is to choose your sexual partners wisely. HIV can be passed from person to person via blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.

6. An HPV infection is a viral infection that commonly causes warts on the skin or mucous membranes. Certain HPV infections cause warts, and if certain HPV strains persist for a long time, they may induce cell changes that lead to cancer. Your doctor may be able to diagnose HPV infection by examining your warts. If no genital warts are visible, a Pap test, DNA test, or vinegar (acetic acid) solution test will be required to determine HPV infection.

Wart removal medications are typically applied directly to the lesion and require multiple applications before they are effective. If medications do not work, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of warts.

Treatment

Bacterial STIs, are generally easy to treat. Viral infections can be treated, but they are not always cured. Anyone who has multiple sexual partners and is sexually active is vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you have an STI while pregnant, getting treatment as soon as possible can prevent or reduce the risk of your baby becoming infected. Some STIs can cause infertility and increase your risk of cancer if left untreated. Antibiotics or antiviral drugs are typically used to treat STIs.

Many sexually transmitted bacterial and parasitic infections, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis, can be cured with antibiotics. Once you begin antibiotic treatment, you must finish the prescription. Reinfection is possible even after successful treatment if all sexual partners have not been successfully treated.

If you have herpes or HIV, you will be given an antiviral medication. The earlier you begin HIV treatment, the more effective it will be. It is possible to reduce the viral load in the blood to undetectable levels if you take your medications exactly as directed. An undetectable viral load means the virus cannot be passed through sexual contact, but a person living with HIV must remain in treatment.

Prevention

It is important to behave with awareness. Being aware of your status is the first step in preventing STIs for you and those you care about. Sexually transmitted infection testing is considered self-care and should be included in regular health screenings and checkups. Since many STIs do not show symptoms, it may be difficult to tell if someone is infected. Many people who have an STI are unaware of it.

Here are some precautions you can take to avoid the spread of STIs:

● Practice abstinence.

● Always use condoms correctly when having sex.

● Discuss the use of PrEP with your partner.

● If you inject drugs, do not share needles, syringes, or other drug equipment with your partner.

● Have fewer sex partners, preferably, and highly recommend having one sex partner.

● A vaccine can prevent the most common STI, so get vaccinated.

● Discuss STIs and staying safe with your sex partner(s) before having sex.

● Although many STIs do not cause symptoms, they can still cause health problems. So get tested. The only sure way to know if you have an STI is to get tested.

Outlook

Many people are uncomfortable talking about their sexual problems, and there is still a stigma attached to getting tested for sexually transmitted infections. People may avoid treatment,, which contributes to the spread of infection. It is important to recognize that being honest about your symptoms and sexual history is crucial to your own health and the health of your partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been exposed to an STI and treated for it, you are vulnerable again after treatment. Treatment for bacterial infections (gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis) will include a short course of antibiotics and follow-up testing to ensure the treatment was effective. Certain STIs, such as herpes and HIV, are chronic infections that require ongoing treatment

Pharmaceutical birth control, in any form (pills, patches, or IUDs), works only to prevent pregnancy. These methods offer no protection against STIs. Condoms or dental dams can help protect against some STIs but are not 100% effective.

It could potentially be the case. However, pelvic pain during sex is quite common and is commonly unrelated to an STI. It can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as endometriosis, cysts, or tension. Intercourse may be painful in certain positions due to your anatomy, particularly how your uterus is positioned in your pelvis. Severe gonorrhea or chlamydia infections, as well as an active herpes outbreak, can make intercourse painful.

There are some steps you can take to lower your risk of contracting an STI.
● Use condoms every time you have sex and use them correctly.
● Reduce the number of partners. The more people you have sex with, the more likely you will contract an STI.
● Have sex with no more than one other person you trust. Engaging in sexual activity with uninfected people ensure that neither you nor they will contract an STI.
● Don't engage in sexual activity. Abstinence is the most effective way to avoid contracting an STI.
● Never use IV street drugs, never share needles or “works”, and never combine drugs and alcohol with sex.

STIs can be transmitted through oral and anal sex, but many people believe they are still virgins if they haven't had vaginal intercourse. Even when there is no penetration, some STIs can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

Yes! Oral sex can put you at risk of both contracting and passing on an STI. Several STIs are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. You can get syphilis, HPV, gonorrhea and chlamydia infections in your throat, as well as herpes sores around your mouth.

If you are having sex outside of a trusted, monogamous relationship or are experiencing symptoms, you should be screened at least once a year, or before having sex with a new partner. Have your partner screened before engaging in sexual activity.

A sexually transmitted infection is the initial state of infection. Left untreated, STIs can become STDs

Condoms are not 100% effective, but if correctly used every time, they are an excellent way to protect yourself from STIs spread through body fluids such as sperm or vaginal secretions. Unfortunately, they do not protect as well against STIs spread through skin-to-skin contact, such as gonorrhea, herpes, and chlamydia.

Many STIs have no visible symptoms or signs (asymptomatic). Even if you are asymptomatic, you can pass the infection on to your sex partners. As a result, it's crucial to use protection during sex, such as a condom. Also, see your doctor regularly for STI screening so that an infection can be identified and treated before it spreads.