WHAT IS AN STD?
An STD is a sexually transmitted disease.
STDs are passed from one person to another through intimate physical contact – such as the rubbing of genitals/private parts – and from sexual activity including vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
STDs are very common. If an STD is not treated it can cause serious health problems including neurological problems, cancer and fertility problems in both men and women.
HOW CAN I AVOID GETTING AN STD?
STDs are usually spread through blood or body fluid such as semen, though some STDs such as herpes, syphilis, or HPV can be spread by skin to skin contact (think about the areas that rub that are not covered by a condom). CDC estimates that 20 million new infections occur every year in the United States. STDs can mostly be prevented by not having sex. If you do have sex, you can lower your risk by using internal or external condoms, dental dams, and being in a sexual relationship with a partner who you confirmed does not have an STD.
For more detailed discussion on STD prevention click here.
HOW CAN I TELL IF SOMEONE HAS AN STD?
There is no accurate way to know if someone has an STD unless they are tested by their medical provider. Some STDs have symptoms while others can show no symptoms at all. STDs do not always cause symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it.
WHO SHOULD GET TESTED FOR AN STD?
It is important to get tested if you are sexually active. Some people mistakenly think that they do not need to get tested. This may be because they think frum people do not get STDs or because they think that because they know the person they are involved with they are fine. Anyone can get an STD but not every person is comfortable admitting that they have one. Unless neither person has been sexually active before, STD testing should be done.
Please consider this if you are casually dating or engaged to be married.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET TESTED?
The CDC guidelines advise that testing should be done yearly for most young people under the age of 25. For individuals who are having higher risk sex (sex with IV drug users or men who have sex with men), testing should be done every 3-6 months.
WHERE CAN I GET STD TESTING?
Ideally you have a medical provider you trust and feel comfortable telling that you are sexually active and want testing. If you do not have such a person check the CDC website for confidential clinics that offer free or low cost testing sites near you https://gettested.cdc.gov/.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON STDS?
There are dozens of STDs. Some STDs, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, are spread mainly by sexual contact. Other diseases, including Zika and Ebola, can be spread sexually but are more often spread through ways other than sex (CDC).
Here is a list of the most common STDs. Please click on each one for external links with more information:
WHAT CAN I DO IF I TEST POSITIVE FOR AN STD?
Getting an STD is stressful so please consider reaching out for support. It helps to keep in mind that STDs are treatable and some are curable. Please see a medical provider for the right treatment for you.
Your medical provider will likely advise that you get retested in a few months to make sure that the treatment you were given worked.
It is also important that you let your partner know you have an STD, so your partner can get tested and treated. If your partner does not get treated they can reinfect you. If you are nervous about telling a partner about your test result click here for site that lets you send an anonymous message informing a partner they have been exposed to an STI.