There are at least 20 different infections that are caused by viruses, bacteria and single-celled organisms. Exposure to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can occur any time you have sexual contact with anyone that involves the genitals, the mouth (oral), or the rectum (anal). Bacterial STIs can be treated and cured, but STIs caused by viruses usually cannot be cured.
Some people with an STI have few or no symptoms at all; others have very obvious symptoms. Be aware of any changes in your health, or symptoms such as:
- different or heavier discharge from the vagina
- discharge from the penis
- a burning feeling when urinating
- sores, particularly in the genital or anal areas
- itchy feeling around the sex organs or anus
- a rash
- swollen glands in the groin
If you think you might have an STI, the first step is to get tested.
You can avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI):
- Use protection such as condoms or a dental dam barrier
- Have regular STI testing
- Use a new latex or synthetic (polyurethane) condom each time you have sex.
- A male condom covers the penis. A female condom is a liner worn in the vagina; both are effective, but should not be used together.
- When used correctly, condoms can provide good protection against most STIs and prevent pregnancy
- Check the expiry date on the package; outdated condoms may not provide protection.
- Open the package carefully so you don't tear or damage the condom.
- Put the condom on before any sexual touching.
- Avoid oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline or baby oil, as they can damage the latex of the condom.