Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread by sexual contact involving the genitals, mouth, or rectum, and can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus before or during delivery. STIs, which affect both men and women, are a worldwide public health concern.
STIs can be spread by people who don't know they are infected. Always use protection every time you have sex, including oral sex, until you are sure you and your partner are not infected with an STI.
If you are in a relationship, delay having sex until you are physically and emotionally prepared, have agreed to only have sex with each other, and have both been tested for STIs.
Completely avoiding sexual contact (abstinence), including intercourse and oral sex, is the only certain way to prevent an infection.
Discuss STIs before you have sex with someone. Even though a sex partner doesn't have symptoms of an STI, he or she may still be infected.
Questions to ask someone before having sex include:
Some STIs, such as HIV, can take up to 6 months before they can be detected in the blood. Genital herpes and the human papillomavirus (HPV) can be spread when symptoms are not present. Even if you and your partner have been tested, use condoms for all sex until you and your partner haven't had sex with another person for 6 months. Then get tested again.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine|
|Last Revised||April 5, 2012|
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