STI FAQ

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To wrap up STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections, sometimes called STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases) Awareness Month, we’re tackling some important STI questions from our Instagram AMA and the TeenSource Youth Advisory Board.

Remember: The best way to prevent STIs is abstinence but any time you choose to have sex, using a condom is important to prevent STIs. Find free condoms near you.

How do you get an STI?

STIs can be spread through any type of sex- oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Some STIs, like herpes and HPV, can also be spread through skin to skin contact. Just remember, someone has to have an STI to in order to give it to someone else.

Who can get an STI?

Anyone. Anyone can get an STI. STIs effect all types of people. Having an STI does not mean that someone has had multiple sexual partners.

Is it common to STI but not have any symptoms?

YES! Most of the time STIs don’t have symptoms and sometimes when they do have symptoms, they are so mild or small that you might not notice them. If an STI has symptoms it could include things like changes in vaginal discharge, bumps or warts on the genitals, itching or burning, or painful urination. Because STIs might not have any symptoms, the only way to know if someone has one is to get tested. STI testing is free and confidential! If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms but want to know if you have an STI, you can find a clinic near you to get tested. If you notice any symptoms, contact your doctor or call a clinic near you to find out what testing options are available. Some doctors are able to do telehealth visits over the phone or have safe ways for you to visit the clinic.

Can you tell if someone has an STI by looking at them/their genitals?

NO. You cannot tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them or their genitals. STIs sometimes have no symptoms and sometimes the symptoms are mild and hard to notice so there is no way to know if someone has an STI by looking. The only way to know if someone has an STI is to get tested.

Is it ever too late to get tested for STIs?

NO! It is never too late to get tested for STIs. But, if someone has an STI that goes untreated for a long time, it’s possible the STI can cause negative health outcomes like infertility and sometimes even death so it is important to get tested regularly if someone is having sex.

Are STIs curable?

SOME. STIs that are caused by a bacteria -- chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis -- are curable with medication. STIs caused by a virus -- HIV, Herpes, HPV -- are not curable, but are treatable and there is medication available to help you stay healthy. Learn more about STI treatment.

Do you have questions about STIs or other issues about your sexual health? Visit TeenSource to learn more. Follow us on Instagram at @teensourceorg for more AMAs, quizzes, and other activities!

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