STD FAQ. Part One

I have some symptoms . . . do you think I have an STD?

Unfortunately, it is difficult to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases based on symptoms alone. Many STDs do not show any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may overlap with symptoms of other STDs or other infections unrelated to sexual activity. The only way to determine if unusual symptoms are from a sexually transmitted disease is to consult with a health care provider.

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How do women know if they have chlamydia?

Women rarely show any symptoms of chlamydia, which is why testing is so important. Pain or burning during urination may be accompanied by a discharge from the vagina. If symptoms do occur, they should be diagnosed by a health care provider. Testing can be done even if symptoms are not showing. Antibiotic treatment usually cures chlamydia. If a woman is diagnosed, her partner should be treated at the same time so that the infection is not passed back to her after treatment is completed.

If chlamydia is left untreated in women, pelvic inflammatory disease or PID can be a complication. Since women often do not show symptoms, chlamydia can be left untreated for unknown amounts of time. Sometimes the infection moves up into the reproductive tract and causes inflammation and abdominal pain. If the infection is not treated in a timely manner, it could cause sterility.

I’m still a virgin but I’ve gone down on my partner before. Could I get a disease that way?

STDs can be transmitted through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Even if a person has never had any penetration of the vagina or anus, she or he could still be at risk. Using latex condoms for any mouth-to-penis contact is recommended. For any mouth-to-vagina or-anus contact, a latex dental dam (a flat piece of latex that can be placed over the vagina or anus), or regular household plastic wrap can be used to provide a moisture barrier between the vagina or anus and the partner’s mouth.