Topic: Diseases & Conditions
This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Feel free to ask your child’s health care provider to go over any information you do not understand.
What are STIs?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that you can get from having sex with someone who has the infection. They are also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The causes of STIs are bacteria, parasites and viruses. STI germs need to live in warm, moist areas. That is why they infect the mouth, rectum, and sex organs. Many people don’t know they have STIs, so they don’t get tested or treated. STIs can cause painful and permanent damage to the pelvic and sex organs. They can also make women and men unable to have children. If you are pregnant, you can give it to your baby. Some STIs (HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis) cause general body infections. There are more than 20 types of STIs. This information sheet will address chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, herpes, and HPV.
What to watch for:
- unusual discharge or smell from vagina
- pain in the pelvic area (between the belly button and sex organs)
- burning or itching around vagina
- bleeding from vagina that is not a regular period
- pain deep inside the vagina when you have sex
- drip or discharge from penis
Women and men
- sores, bumps, or blisters near sex organs, rectum, or mouth
- burning pain when you urinate or have a bowel movement
- need to urinate often
- itching around sex organs
- swelling or redness in throat
- flu-like feelings with fever, chills and aches
- swelling in the groin area around the sex organs
Sometimes you can have an STI with no signs or symptoms. Or, the symptom may go away. The only way to find out for sure if you have an STI is to get tested.
How to protect yourself:
Not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from STIs. Having protected sex with only one uninfected partner who only has sex with you is also safe. Use latex condoms with a water-based lubricant every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Use plastic (polyurethane) condoms if you're both allergic to latex. Talk to your partner about past sex partners and about needle drug use. Talk about how you'll protect yourselves from STIs. Look closely at your partner for any signs of STI - rash, sore, or discharge. If you see anything you are worried about, don’t have sex.
Chlamydia: Chlamydia is caused by bacteria. Symptoms will appear 1-4 weeks after having sex. You may not have any symptoms. You can get tested by providing a fluid sample from the vagina, penis, anus, throat or urine. Results take 1-2 days. It can be cured with antibiotic pills or liquid. Your partner(s) must be treated. Wait 7 days after treatment to have sex.
Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria. In addition to the symptoms of STIs stated above, gonorrhea may also cause pain and swelling in the knees or other joints, small red blisters on the skin and heart problems. Symptoms will appear 2-21 days after having sex. You may not have any symptoms. You can get tested by providing a fluid sample from the vagina, penis, anus, throat, or urine. Results take 2 days. It can be cured with antibiotic pills or a shot. Your partner(s) must be treated. Wait 7 days after treatment to have sex.
Trichomoniasis (trich): Trich is caused by a parasite. Symptoms will appear up to 5-28 days after having sex. You may not have any symptoms. Women can be tested by providing a fluid sample from the vagina. Results are immediate. It can be cured with antibiotic pills. Your partner(s) must be treated. Wait 7 days after treatment to have sex.
Herpes: Herpes is caused by a virus. Some say more than 50 percent of people with herpes never have symptoms. Others get small, sometimes painful sores on or around the mouth (cold sores) or the genitals. The sores “weep” after they form. They develop scabs, heal and go away after 2-3 weeks. Sores can occur 2-30 days after exposure. They can also appear months or even years after exposure. People with symptoms may notice a tingling or itching in the area just before a sore appears, swollen glands, fever, and an overall achy feeling. There is no cure for herpes. The sores go away, but the virus doesn’t. The virus enters nerve cells close to the sores and stays there. There are no signs that it is present. The virus in this stage is “inactive.” The virus can become active again, sometimes due to stress. Then it travels down the nerves to the skin. The sores may appear again. If the sores are present, you can be diagnosed with a visual exam by the doctor. You can also have a blood test which takes 2-14 days for results. Herpes can be treated with antiviral medications. The medicine can make sores heal more quickly. It may also be used to reduce the chances of herpes coming back. Talk with your provider about how to have safer sex.
HPV (human papilloma virus): HPV is a virus. The low-risk types of HPV can cause genital warts. These types are generally not associated with cancer. Genital warts are diagnosed during a visual exam of the genitals. The warts appear as flat or round bumps. They are often painless, but can burn or itch, especially if they grow larger or spread. There is no cure, but warts can be treated. Untreated warts may resolve, remain unchanged or grow and spread. Warts can be removed with liquid medicine, frozen, burned off, or removed surgically.
The high-risk types of HPV do not cause warts, but are linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. The high-risk types of HPV can cause cellular changes. These changes increase the risk of cervical and vulvar (the area outside the vagina) cancer in women with high-risk HPV. Women and men with high-risk HPV have an increased risk of anal cancer. The high-risk types are often detected in women during routine Pap tests. Cellular changes in women can be watched and removed before they become cancer.
There is a vaccine for women and men to protect against certain types of HPV. This vaccine is indicated for ages 9-26 years. Talk with your doctor about this vaccine.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):
PID affects the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It occurs when germs from an STI spread from a woman’s cervix into her other organs. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two main STIs that can cause PID. PID can spread and cause painful and permanent damage to the pelvic and sex organs. Women with symptoms may notice yellow or gray vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods or after sex, heavier or more painful periods, cramps or pain in the lower abdomen, fever, nausea, pain deep inside during or after sex, and pain during a pelvic examination. One in five women who has had PID can’t have children. The more times a woman has PID, the more likely she won’t be able to have children. If a woman who has had PID gets pregnant, the baby may begin to grow in a fallopian tube instead of the uterus. This is called a tubal pregnancy. It can be life-threatening. PID can also cause painful scarring, which may require surgery or a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). The only way to know for sure if you have PID is to go to a doctor or clinic. A pelvic exam and lab tests are used to check for PID.
Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar www.childrensdayton.org (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).
La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.
Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.
Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
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