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Sexually Transmitted Infections

Protect Yourself

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections you can get through sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal). More than 20 STIs have been identified so far.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year in the US. Half of these infections occur in people ages 15-24. STIs increase your risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV and also can lead to other health complications such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

Most STDs are easily cured if they’re caught early. Unfortunately, many people don’t seek treatment because they have no symptoms and thus don’t even know they have an infection. Other people have symptoms, but don’t go to the doctor because they are too embarrassed or don’t realize that their symptoms are a warning sign of a serious infection. This is tragic, because untreated STIs can cause severe health problems and may even result in death. Also, when left untreated, they’re likely to continue spreading from one person to another.

This is one of the reasons we recommend an annual exam for many women. We can screen for STIs even if you are not experiencing symptoms.

Important facts about STIs
  • Your risk of acquiring an STI begins the first time you have sex. The more partners you have, the greater your risk.
  • STIs can lead to cancer, infertility, long-term pain, and ectopic pregnancy.
  • Mothers can pass STIs on to their babies before, during, or after birth.
  • Some STIs are not curable and stay with you for life.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment can either cure you or help you avoid most of the serious complications.

Do I have an STI?

Understanding the symptoms of STIs and how they are transmitted is the first step to early treatment and prevention. Here’s a quick guide to the most common symptoms of STIs and the specific diseases that may cause them:

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, yeast

Unusual discharge from penis, or vagina

Herpes, HPV

Bumps, blisters, or warts


Painless sores on mouth, penis, or vagina

Viral hepatitis

Jaundice (yellow skin), fatigue, and abdominal pain

Trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes

Pain or burning during urination or sex

Herpes, pubic lice (crabs), trichomoniasis, yeast infection

Itching or burning around penis, vagina, or anus


Yellow-green discharge from vagina with odor

HIV/AIDS, herpes, syphilis

Flu-like symptoms

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, hepatitis

Abdominal pain


Bleeding between periods


Unexplained weight loss

How can I reduce my risk of getting or passing on an STD?

The only way to be sure you won’t get an STD is abstinence (not having sex).

If you do have sex, limit your risk by practicing “safer” sex:
  • Use a latex condom every time you have sex, even oral sex. But remember that condoms must be used properly to prevent STIs, and even proper use does not ensure you won’t be infected. Some STIs, such as herpes, HPV, and syphilis, can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact in areas that the condom does not cover.
  • Limit the number of people with whom you have sex and don’t go back and forth between partners. It’s safest to have only one partner (one who doesn’t have an STI or multiple partners!).
  • Before you have sex with a new partner, ask if he or she has an STI or any unusual symptoms. If so, don’t have sex until you’re sure the infection is cured or you learn how to protect yourself.
  • Be open and honest about STIs with your partner. If either of you has an STI, both of you should be tested and treated if necessary. Otherwise, you could repeatedly pass the infection back and forth to each other.
  • Both you and your partner need to be treated for STIs. Otherwise, you may become infected again.
  • Talk to your doctor about your risk of getting an STI and ways to avoid it.
From Our Patients
“Dr. Akonye has been amazing to our family. She’s was my doc through all 4 of our pregnancies & I couldn’t have asked for a more down to earth person to walk us through every one of them.” – Priscilla Terrazas