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STI’s. Sexually Transmitted Infections.

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Sexually Transmitted Infections

  • STIs can infect you in many ways. They can be caused by bacteria. They can be viruses. They can even come in the form of parasites like pubic lice. STIs are found on the body, in blood and in body fluids like semen (cum) and vaginal fluids. Sometimes, STIs like genital warts and herpes can be spread through skin-to-skin contact - simply kissing someone with a herpes blister may be enough to infect you.

  • STIs are spread from person to person during sex - and that means oral sex and anal sex as well. Injection drug use (IDU), tattooing or body piercing can also spread an infection if the needles and equipment aren't clean. An STI can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, at the time of delivery and through the process of breastfeeding.

  • Most STIs can be cured, but some will never go away and require lifelong treatment. And make no mistake: having an STI puts you at a greater risk of getting HIV/AIDS

  • It's not always easy to recognize the signs of an STI in you or your partner. In fact, some STI's have no symptoms at all, so you may not even know you have one unless you get tested.

You might have an STI if you experience any of these signs:

  • Burning feeling in your genitals or when you pee.

  • Sores, small bumps or blisters on or near your penis, vagina or anus.

  • Itching around your penis, vagina or anus.

  • Unusual discharge - like a different colour, smell or amount - from the vagina or penis.

  • Lower abdominal pain.

  • Pain in the testicles.

  • Bleeding after intercourse or between periods.

  • Pain during sex or masturbation.

  • For women, unusual bleeding during your period.

What to do if you have an STI

  • If you think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, get it checked out as soon as possible. You can see your family doctor or visit a Healthy Sexuality Clinic in your area to find out exactly what you have and how you can treat it. And to be on the safe side, it's best to avoid having sex until you've seen a doctor about your concerns.

How often to get tested

  • If you're sexually active, it's a good idea to get tested every year for STIs even if you feel fine. It's a good practice to go for testing if you're about to start a new relationship. Ask your partner to do the same! Some STIs have no symptoms so you may not even know you have it unless you get tested.

Different Types of STIs

Bacterial Vaginosis

  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a very common vaginal infection. Small amounts of bacteria in the vagina grow more than normal which results in a strange smelling vaginal discharge. (NOTE: BV is not often found in men.)

  • It is not harmful but causes discomfort

Symptoms of BV

  • White or greyish discharge from your vagina, sometimes in large amounts; the discharge has a fishy smell, especially after you have sex.

  • Pain, burning or itching in the vagina (these symptoms are less common.)

How do you get it?

  • BV causes normal levels of bacteria in the vagina to grow more than usual. A change in normal levels of bacteria can be caused by:

  • Stress

  • Having frequent sex

  • Certain antibiotics

  • Some forms of birth control

  • BV is more common in young women who are sexually active

  • BV is treated by prescription drugs or a special vaginal cream


  • Douching is NOT the answer. In fact it may make BV worse by washing away the 'good' bacteria in the vagina. Try to avoid using deodorant tampons or pads, perfumed soaps, bath oils, or feminine hygiene sprays.

  • A good idea is to wear cotton underwear during the day. It's also better if you don't sleep in your underwear either.

  • It's really better for you to NOT wear a thong. In fact, loose-fitting pants will help you to avoid getting BV.

  • Make sure to change out of your wet bathing suit or sweaty exercise clothes as soon as you can.


  • Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), particularly amongst teenagers and young adults. It's caused by bacteria and is spread by having unprotected sex -- vaginal, anal, or oral -- with someone who is infected, even though they may not have any symptoms.

How do you know you have it?

  • You can have Chlamydia for a long time before symptoms show up. In fact, many people never have symptoms. 70% of women and 50% of men who have Chlamydia may not show symptoms. So even if you don't have any symptoms, you might be spreading it to others during unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex.

Symptoms for women:

  • Increased vaginal discharge.

  • Vaginal itching.

  • Bleeding between periods.

  • Bleeding during or after sex.

  • Pain in your lower abdomen.

  • Burning feeling when you pee

Symptoms for men:

  • A watery discharge coming from your penis.

  • Burning or itching around the tip your penis.

  • Needing to pee a lot.

  • Burning feeling when you pee.

  • Pain in your testicles.

How do you get it?

  • By having unprotected vaginal sex (penis in vagina), anal sex, or oral sex (mouth to penis or vagina) with a person who already has it.

  • It can also be spread by transferring the infection from the genitals to your fingers to your eyes.


  • Chlamydia is treated using specific antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. You should not have any sex, including oral sex, until you have finished all of the treatment and have had a follow-up test (test of cure) to make sure the infection is gone.

  • Your sexual partners need to be advised and get tested and treated for Chlamydia, whether or not they have symptoms.

  • If left untreated, Chlamydia is one of the main causes of infertility in men and women. This means you may not be able to have children in the future. Untreated Chlamydia can also lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women

Genital Herpes

  • Genital Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), affecting about one in five adults.

  • There are two types of Genital Herpes:

  • Type 1 - generally causes sores on or near the mouth (cold sores).

  • Type 2 - usually causes sores on the genitals.

  • Once infected, a person becomes a carrier for life. There is no known cure

How do you know if you have it?

  • Both men and women can have one or more of these symptoms, all of which are highly infectious (easily passed onto others):

  • Small fluid-filled blisters in the genital area (vaginal lips, vagina, cervix, head/shaft/foreskin of the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus or thighs). These blisters burst and leave small sores that can be very painful.

  • Itching or tingling sensation in the genital or anal area.

  • Flu-like illness, backaches, headaches, swollen glands or fever

  • Sometimes, you might feel a tingling sensation in the genital or anal area before a herpes outbreak. Remember, herpes can still be spread to others even if you're not showing any symptoms.

  • The first outbreak of herpes is usually the worst and takes 2-3 weeks to heal properly. After that, the outbreaks are usually milder; the sores are fewer, smaller, and less painful and they heal more quickly than the first outbreak.

How do I get it?

  • You can get herpes by direct contact with an infected person by:

  • Kissing (mouth to mouth).

  • Having unprotected sex (penis in vagina or anus).

  • Having oral sex (from mouth to penis or vagina) without using a condom or barrier


  • There is no cure for herpes. You'll get a prescription drug that will help to:

  • Speed up the healing of the sores.

  • Reduce the number of outbreaks.

  • Reduce the chance of spreading it to others during and between outbreaks.

  • It's important that you and your partner take care of yourselves during a herpes outbreak. The blisters and sores are very infectious and the virus can be passed onto others by direct contact.


What is it?

  • Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It's often called 'the clap.' Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria and is spread by having unprotected sex -- vaginal, anal, or oral -- with someone who is infected, even though they may not have any symptoms

How do you know if you have it?

  • You can have Gonorrhea but show no symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, it can be spread to others during oral, vaginal or anal sex without either partner knowing it. In fact, 50% of women and men who have Gonorrhea may not show symptoms. Men are far more likely to notice the symptoms than women because for women, the symptoms are often so mild that they can be mistaken for something else.

Symptoms for women

  • Increased or strange vaginal discharge.

  • Pain or a burning sensation when you pee.

  • Itchy, red, or swollen vagina.

  • Pain or bleeding when you have sex.

  • Pain in your lower abdomen.

  • Bleeding between periods

Symptoms for men

  • A thick, white or yellow discharge from your penis.

  • Pain when you pee.

  • Needing to pee a lot.

  • Burning or itching around the tip of your penis.

  • Painful or swollen testicles.

How do I get it?

  • You can get Gonorrhea by having unprotected vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex with a person who already has it. Having unprotected sex with someone is risky because they may have Gonorrhea and not even know it.


  • The doctor will prescribe specific antibiotics to treat your Gonorrhea. If you are infected with Chlamydia at the same time, you will likely have to take two special types of antibiotics.

  • If left untreated, Gonorrhea can cause infertility in men and women. The infection can also spread to your joints and cause arthritis. If left untreated Gonorrhea can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women

  • You should not have any sex -- including oral sex -- until you've finished all of the treatment and have had a follow-up test to ensure the infection is gone.

  • Your sexual partners need to be advised and get tested and treated for Gonorrhea, whether or not they have symptoms.

  • To protect yourself and others you should avoid:

  • Kissing when you or your partner have cold sores around the mouth.

  • Having oral sex when you or your partner have mouth or genital sores.

  • Having any genital or anal contact, even with a condom, when you or your partner have genital sores.

  • Sharing bath or face towels.

  • Using saliva to wet contact lenses if you have sores around your mouth.

Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B is a virus that can cause a serious infection of the liver. Some people who get Hepatitis B don't know they have it because they never feel sick.

How do you know if you have it?

  • There are some people infected with Hepatitis B who don't know it because they don't have any symptoms. The danger is that you can still pass the infection on to someone else without knowing you have it.


  • Flu-like symptoms, like fatigue (being very tired) and nausea.

  • Abdominal pain.

  • Urine or stool (feces) is strange colour.

  • Skin or eyes appear yellowish.

How do I get it?

  • Hepatitis B is spread to others by contact with infected blood or body fluids -- semen, vaginal fluids and saliva. The infected blood or fluid has to enter a break in the skin or be absorbed through a mucous membrane like the eyes, mouth, vagina and anus in order to be passed onto another person.

  • Sharing toothbrushes, razors, nail files or other personal items that may have tiny amounts of blood on them can also spread the infection. In fact, the virus can live in dry blood for up to seven days.

  • Sharing needles and syringes that may have tiny amounts of blood in them can spread the virus to others. Which also means that tattooing or ear/body piercing can be a source of Hep B if the equipment is not new or not sterilized.

  • A pregnant woman who has Hepatitis B can pass it on to her baby before it's born so it's critical that all pregnant women be screened for Hepatitis B as part of their prenatal care.

  • Hepatitis B is not spread by water, food, kissing, sneezing or coughing


  • There's no cure for the Hepatitis B virus. Most people with Hepatitis B do get better and are protected from future infection by their own natural immunity. They won't pass the virus on to others.

  • If you have Hepatitis B, you'll probably have to change the way you eat; you'll be advised to stop drinking and smoking as well.

  • Some people become carriers of Hepatitis B and require on-going medical treatment. A Hepatitis B carrier is a person who carries the virus in their blood and body fluids for the rest of their life. In some cases, carriers can develop cirrhosis (scarring) or cancer of the liver later in life.


  • Get the Hepatitis B vaccine. A free vaccine is provided to:

  • Household and sexual contacts of an infected person.

  • Babies of carriers.

  • Grade 7 students.

Human Papilloma Virus

  • HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection and is usually referred to as genital warts. These warts may grow on the penis, anus and inside or outside of the vagina.

How do I know if I have it?

  • HPV infection is different for each person. In fact, some people with HPV don't know they have it because they never get visible warts.

  • The symptoms of HPV are the same for both men and women. The warts may look like small, hard spots or like cauliflower-shaped lumps on or near your genitals. They are painless, but are usually itchy

How do I get it?

  • You can get HPV from direct skin-to-skin contact during vaginal sex, oral sex and anal sex.

  • Using condoms every time you have sex can help reduce the spread of HPV. HOWEVER, a condom doesn't prevent the spread completely because it doesn't cover all the areas of the skin around the genitals that might be infected.


  • There is no cure for HPV. If your Pap test indicates a change in your cervix, you'll be sent to a specialist for further testing and treatment options.

  • If you have genital warts, doctors have several methods for their removal:

  • Specific medications are applied directly on the warts on a weekly basis.

  • Freeze the warts using a form of dry ice or nitrogen.

  • Burn the warts using laser treatment.

  • Have them surgically removed.


  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.) This virus attacks the body's immune system and makes it difficult to fight off diseases, bacteria, virus and infections.

How do I know if I have it?

  • Many people who have HIV don't even know it because they don't show any symptoms for years. Even though you don't show any symptoms, you can still pass on the virus to someone else.

How do I get it?

  • You can get HIV through high-risk activities where you come into contact with infected blood, semen and vaginal fluids. HIV is spread:

  • By having unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who has HIV.

  • By sharing needles, syringes and other drug injecting equipment that is contaminated with HIV.

  • By using tattooing and body piercing equipment - including the ink - that isn't sterilized or properly cleaned and is infected with HIV.

  • From a woman with HIV to her baby (before or during birth) and by breastfeeding.

  • By having another sexually transmitted infection (STI) like chlamydia or gonorrhea. STIs can weaken your body's natural protection and increase your chances of becoming infected with HIV if you're exposed to the virus.

HIV/AIDS cannot be spread through:

  • Touching

  • Shaking hands

  • Hugging or kissing

  • Coughing and sneezing

  • Giving blood

  • Using swimming pools or toilet seats

  • Sharing bed linen

  • Eating utensils or food

  • Animals, mosquitoes or other insects


  • Use lubricated condoms for vaginal sex .

  • Use non-lubricated condoms for oral sex on a man.

  • Use a latex barrier - a dental dam - or a non-lubricated condom cut length-wise for oral sex on a woman.

  • Use condoms with extra lubricant for anal sex.

  • Limit the number of sex partners.

  • Not share needles, syringes, drug injecting equipment or sex toys.

  • Ensure tattooing and piercing equipment is sterile

Difference between HIV and AIDS

  • HIV is the virus that may causes AIDS.

  • HIV is entered through the body through the mucous membranes or thru blood to blood contact.

  • Once you get the virus it slowly begins to attack the immune system, killing off healthy immune system cells. The deterioration and destruction of immune function leads to AIDS

  • AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection

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