Date: December 8, 2016

Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind west 30 km/h gusting to 50. Temperature steady near minus 1.

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Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

This page was reviewed or revised on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:49 AM

What is a sexually transmitted infection?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread between people during any type of sexual contact (skin to skin, oral, vaginal and anal).

Most STIs can be prevented or cured. Those that cannot be cured can sometimes be managed with medication, and people with STIs can still lead full lives with healthy sexual relationships.

Risks of an STI include:

  • Unprotected sexual contact (skin to skin, oral, vaginal and anal)
  • Barrier (ex. condom, internal condom, dental dam) failure
  • Partner(s) has an STI
  • You have a new sex partner(s)
  • You or partner(s) uses injection drugs or shares drug equipment

Anyone who has sexual contact with an infected person can get an STI. Risk may increase with number of sexual partners or with inconsistent barrier use.

Should I care?

Some infections can cause serious illness, permanent damage, and even death.

  • Some STIs can make you sterile (unable to have a baby) or make it difficult to become or get someone pregnant.
  • STIs can cause chronic pain or swelling
  • Without treatment and/or protection, you may continue to spread it to your partners.
  • STIs can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), arthritis, nerve damage and heart disease.

Symptoms and when do they appear?

Some symptoms show up 2-10 days after you have had sex with an infected person. Others may not show up for months. Many people with an STI have no symptoms.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Sores or bumps on vagina, penis, anus, or mouth
  • Itching or irritation of vagina, penis or anus
  • Discharge from the vagina, penis or anus
  • Strong smell from the vagina
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Burning sensation when you urinate
  • Pain in the lower back or abdomen
  • High temperature or flu-like symptoms

It is important to monitor and know your own body. Even if these symptoms go away, something may be wrong. If you think you have symptoms of an STI, seek medical attention right away. See your doctor or go to your nearest STI clinic, walk-in clinic, or Emergency Department.

Testing for an STI

If you or your sexual partner(s) have ever had sexual contact before, visit a healthcare professional or STI clinic at least every 6 months to 1 year for testing. You should also get tested at the beginning of a new relationship (before any sexual contact), and after a relationship ends. If you have an STI, tell your partner(s) right away. If you cannot, a Public Health Nurse can help.

If you have an STI

  • See your doctor, or visit an STI clinic. It is confidential, and free medication may be available.
  • Take your medicine exactly as prescribed.
  • After diagnosis, a healthcare provider can tell you when it is safe to resume sexual contact. This may take a week or more, depending on the STI.
  • Tell recent sex partners they may have an STI. They should see a doctor or go to a STI clinic.

If you prefer, a Public Health Nurse will contact your sex partner(s) for you. Your name will remain private and confidential.

If you are pregnant and have an STI:

  • STIs can be passed on during pregnancy or delivery. See a doctor and ask for a complete STI check-up.
  • Anyone with an active outbreak of herpes around the sex organs during delivery, risks having a baby with serious health problems.
  • Anyone with syphilis during pregnancy also risks having a baby with serious birth defects.
  • Anyone with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection requires specialized medical care during pregnancy to decrease the risk of passing the infection to their baby.

Talking with your partner

Choose a quiet time and place. Be direct. Tell them what you know and urge them to visit a doctor or STI clinic. Don't be afraid, STIs are just infections.

Prevention

  • Do not have unprotected sex with someone who has signs of an STI.
  • Always use barriers such as condoms, internal condoms, or dental dams.
  • Talk about STIs with your sex partner(s). Be honest. Be careful. Be considerate.
  • Know your partner(s) name, address and phone number.
  • Have complete STI check-ups every 6-12 months. Note: Testing for HPV and herpes is not included in routine screening for STIs.
  • Have all partners tested for STIs before having sexual contact with them. This will minimize your chance of getting an STI.

People with STIs may not show signs. Using a barrier, or not having sex, is the best protection. For free, confidential information on sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS, and where to go for testing or treatment, call Lambton Public Health, 519-383-8331 ext. 3547 or toll free 1-800-667-1839.

For more general information:

General (websites)

Ontario Public Health

Sexuality and U

STI fact sheets (general links to fact sheets and booklet)

Public Health Agency of Canada

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - STD Fact Sheets

Smart Sex Resource

HPV (website)

HPVinfo.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada - HPV

HIV (website)

Regional HIV/AIDS Connection

CATIE - Canada's source for HIV and Hep C information

Government of Canada - HIV and AIDS

World Health Organization

HIV and AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario

Hepatitis B

Public Health Agency of Canada - Hepatitis B

Hepatitis C (fact sheet/booklets)

Hepatitis C - Gets the Facts (booklet)

Hepatitis C - Gets the Facts (fact sheet)

Hepatitis C (website)

Hepatitis C Basics