STIs: Essential Information You Should Know

Apr 10, 2023

STD Testing


STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are a series of infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. These infections can affect both men and women, causing severe health problems if left untreated. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. has an STI, indicating the widespread prevalence of these infections. STIs are transmitted through sexual contact and pose a significant public health concern. Therefore, increased awareness, education, and preventive measures, such as regular screening and responsible sexual behavior, are urgently needed to combat their spread and protect individuals and communities.

In this article, we'll cover all the essential information you need to know about STDs, including what they are, the types of STIs, the common signs and symptoms, what causes them, how they're diagnosed, and how to prevent them.

What Is an STD and Who Should Be Tested?

STDs are infections that are transmitted sexually from one person to another. The contact that could result in the receiving of these infections includes vaginal, anal, and oral. Anyone sexually active can contract an STD, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. It is recommended that everyone who is sexually active gets tested for STDs regularly, even if they don't show any symptoms. This is because many STDs can be asymptomatic but could still cause serious health problems if left untreated.

Types of STIs

There are many types of STDs, including bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. Some of the most common cases are as follows:

  • Chlamydia: a bacterial infection that can affect both men and women- often asymptomatic.
  • Gonorrhea: a bacterial infection that can affect both men and women- cause various symptoms.
  • Herpes: a viral infection that can cause painful sores or blisters on the genitals or mouth.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): a viral infection that causes genital warts and may increase the risk of cervical cancer.
  • HIV: a viral infection that attacks the immune system and leads to AIDS if left untreated.
  • Syphilis: a bacterial infection that can cause a range of symptoms, including sores, rashes, and fever.

Common Signs and Symptoms of STIs

The signs and symptoms of STDs can vary depending on the type of infection. Some common symptoms of STDs include:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain during sex
  • Sores, blisters, or bumps on the genitals or mouth
  • Itching or irritation in the genital area
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body aches

It's important to note that many STDs can be asymptomatic, further proving why regular testing is so important.

What Causes Sexually Transmitted Infections?

STDs are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that are transmitted from person to person during sexual contact. STDs can be passed by vaginal, anal, or oral means, as well as through skin-to-skin contact with the infected area.

Reasons to Get STI/STD Testing Even If You Use Protection

Using condoms and other physical types of protection during sexual activities can help to reduce the risk of contracting an STD, but it is not foolproof. Condoms can break or slip, and some STDs can be transmitted through simple skin-to-skin contact with the infected area. Regular testing is the only way to know if you have an STD, and early detection and treatment are key for preventing serious health problems.

How Are Sexually Transmitted Infections Diagnosed?

STDs can be diagnosed through a variety of methods, including:

  • Blood tests: to detect the presence of antibodies to specific STDs.
  • Urine tests: to detect the presence of bacteria or viruses in the urine.
  • Swab tests: to collect samples from the infected area to be tested for bacteria or viruses.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated with STIs?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that can be transmitted through sexual contact. Risk factors for contracting STIs include:

  • Unprotected sex:

    The most common risk factor for STIs. Having sex without a condom increases your risk of contracting an STI.

  • Multiple sexual partners:

    Engaging in sexual relations with multiple partners increases the risk of contracting an STI. The more sexual partners an individual had within a short time frame, the greater the risk for STI.

  • Previous history of STIs:

    If you have had an STI in the past, you are at increased risk of contracting another one.

  • Substance abuse:

    Substance abuse can lead to impaired judgment that could result in risky sexual behavior, further increasing the risk of STIs.

  • Being sexually active at a young age:

    When individuals have sex at a younger age, there is an increased risk of contracting STIs.

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you think you may have STI, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible. Some STIs can cause serious health problems if left untreated. You should consult a doctor if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Painful urination or discharge from the genitals
  • Painful or swollen lymph nodes in the groin area
  • Blisters or sores on the genitals, anus, or mouth
  • Itching, burning, or tingling in the genital area
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge

Prevention of STIs Involve:

Some prevention tips to avoid STIs are listed below: 

  • Using condoms correctly and consistently during sexual activities
  • Reducing the number of sexual partners
  • Getting vaccinated for certain STIs such as HPV and hepatitis B
  • Avoiding sexual contact with anyone who has symptoms of an STI
  • Getting tested regularly for STIs if you are sexually active

How Can Metro Urgent Care Help?

Looking for reliable STI testing and treatment near you? Look no further than Metro Urgent Care. Our experienced medical team provides confidential and comprehensive STI services in a comfortable, judgment-free environment. Fear or embarrassment do not need to serve as an obstacle when taking control of your sexual health. Visit us at Metro Urgent Care walk-in clinic in Chicago, IL, today for the care you need and the peace of mind you deserve. Contact us now to schedule an appointment or walk-in during our convenient hours.

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