Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed from person to person through sex, including vaginal, anal or oral sex. STIs are sometimes called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Many people with an STI have no signs or symptoms. You can feel healthy and not know that you have an STI. The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested.

Symptoms

If symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Burning during urination
  • Intense itching
  • Sores on or around the vagina, penis or anus
  • Stomach cramps unrelated to menstrual cycle

Prevention

Sex is safer and more enjoyable when you and your partner(s) know that you do not have an STI. If you are having sex, here are some tips for preventing STIs:

When to Get Tested

Do not wait until you experience symptoms to get tested for STIs. Many infected people with STIs do not feel sick or experience any symptoms.

  • Sexually active women under 25 years old should be tested annually for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • Sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men should be tested annually for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
    • This group should be tested every three to six months if they have multiple or anonymous partners.
  • Pregnant persons should be tested for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B early in pregnancy.

For more information, see the CDC's STI and HIV screening recommendations.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your doctor may order urine, throat or anal tests to diagnose an STI.

Many STIs can be cured, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

STIs that are caused by viruses cannot be cured, such as HPV, genital herpes and HIV. There are medications you can take to manage symptoms and complications of these STIs.

Why to Get Treatment

STIs can have lasting effects on your body. Some infections can cause damage to your vision, hearing, brain and cardiovascular system. They can make you more likely to get or spread HIV. Many STIs can cause infertility. Some infections can also be passed to a baby during pregnancy, leading to birth defects or stillbirth.

Sexual Health Clinics

The Health Department's Sexual Health Clinics provide low- to no-cost confidential services, including testing, treatment and prevention. Anyone 12 years and older who wants testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis can receive these services at our clinics, even if they have no symptoms.

More information