Sexually Transmitted Infection & Disease

stepsTYPICAL SYMPTOMS of Sexually Transmitted Infections STIs (also known as Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STDs)

Men: Penis discharge, itching or pain

Women: Unusual vaginal discharge or odor; burning, itching or pain in or around the vaginal opening, pain in the lower abdomen; unusual bleeding; pain or bleeding with sex.

Both: Sores, bumps or blisters near sex organs, mouth or anus; burning or pain when you pee; having to pee often; itching around the sex organs; swelling or redness in the throat; fever, chills or aches; swellings in the area around the sex organs.


If you notice any of these symptoms call your nearest teen clinic or Doctor.

If you live in the Twin Cities Metro Area of Minnesota:

  • West Suburban Teen Clinic 952-474-3251
  • The Annex Teen Clinic 763-533-1316
  • Teen Age Medical Services 612-813-6125
  • Face To Face 651-772-5555
  • Health Start 651-221-3441
  • Or 651-489-CARE for help finding an affordable clinic in the twin cities area.

If you live in Minnesota but outside of the metro area call:

The MN Family Planning and STD Hotline: 1-800-78-FACTS

HOW TO PREVENT Sexually Transmitted Infections STIs (also known as Sexually Transmitted Diseases STDs)

Not Having Sex is the best way to protect yourself from catching an STI.

Plan your sexual relationships safely and responsibly. If you choose to have sex

Have sex with only one partner


Girls – Pick a partner who will ALWAYS USE A CONDOM!

Don’t Have Sex if you think you or your partner may have a sexually transmitted infection,

Get Tested – If you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, get tested and get your partner tested. Don’t have sex until you have the results from those tests.


Bacteria are a microscopic, one-celled, simple life form that multiplies rapidly. Just a few can make thousands or even millions of copies of themselves in just a few days. Bacteria are often called “germs”. Some bacteria cause infections. Sexually transmitted diseases caused by bacteria are curable.

Antibiotics kill bacteria and can cure sexually transmitted infections caused it. But if you are exposed to the bacteria again, you can get the same sexually transmitted disease again, even right after you have finished taking the antibiotics.


What Is It?
Bacteria cause chlamydia. Chlamydia can result in scarring in the pelvic area and sex organs in both males and females. Unless treated early, chlamydia can lead to lifelong pain and make it impossible to have babies in the future.

How it is spread?
The bacteria live in the vagina, cervix, penis, or anus. Vaginal or anal sex spreads the bacteria from the infected person to anyone he or she has sex with.

How is it Treated?
Prescription antibiotics will cure a chlamydia infection. However, you must always take the antibiotics exactly as your doctor or nurse practitioner tells you. If you stop taking the pills too early or miss pills, the disease can get worse.

Other Facts
Chlamydia is often called the “silent epidemic” because 75% of women and 50% of men who have Chlamydia do not have symptoms or have very mild symptoms that seem to come and go. Even though they do not have noticeable symptoms, the disease can be passed along to others.


Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria and is spread by having sex with an infected person. About one million people in the U.S. catch gonorrhea every year.

How it is spread?
The bacteria live in body fluids. A penis in the vagina, anus or mouth spreads the fluids that carry the bacteria to another person.

Antibiotics will kill the gonorrhea bacteria. Treatment not completed can cause serious problems later.

Other facts:
Left untreated, gonorrhea can spread to other parts of the body and cause worse infections. Gonorrhea can cause scarring in the pelvic and sex organs and make it impossible to have babies in the future.


Syphilis has been called the “great imitator” because its symptoms are like those of other infections or diseases. If untreated, syphilis causes death.

How it is spread?
Syphilis is passed from person to person by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Penicillin will cure a person who has had syphilis for less than a year. Those who have syphilis for more than one year can only be cured by taking penicillin for longer periods.

Other facts:
If not treated, syphilis can last a lifetime causing many painful problems. There are three stages in the disease. Each of the stages has different symptoms.



A virus is made of genetic material inside a protein shell. Viruses are not really living organisms. Viruses work by injecting their genetic material into a living cell of your body. Sometimes the material just stays in the cell and does not affect it. This virus lies dormant until something activates it. Once it becomes active, the body cell is fooled into thinking the injected genetic material is the cell’s own. The cell then makes more copies of the virus. Finally the cell bursts and the new viruses then can infect other cells. When this happens, a person will get the symptoms of the infection, like sores, warts, etc.

Once the genetic material is inside a cell, it cannot be destroyed. This is why most viral infections cannot be cured by medicines. Many infections caused by diseases can be treated. Treatment involves stopping the cell from making more copies of the virus’ genetic material. Once stopped, the symptoms will usually go away.

The best way to keep the virus from acting against us is to live a healthy life style – eating well getting exercise, sleeping enough, lowering stress are some suggestions.

GENITAL WARTS – Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
What is it?

Human papilloma virus or HPV is the name of a group of over 100 types of viruses that cause warts. Some types are linked to changes in the cervix and penis that can lead to cancer.

How it is spread?
HPV and genital warts are usually spread by direct, skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex with a partner who already has the virus.

HPV is a virus and there are no cures for viruses. The warts can be removed with chemicals, freezing with liquid nitrogen, prescription creams or laser in severe cases. You can treat the symptoms of the infection, warts and/ or cellular changes on the cervix, but you can’t make the infection go away. A person may not know right away – or ever- if they have been infected by HPV.


What is it?
Herpes is a common and usually mild infection caused by two viruses – herpes simplex type 1 and 2. Both are very contagious and cause similar symptoms.

How it is spread?
Herpes is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with a herpes sore. Herpes is spread by kissing, oral, vaginal or anal sex. Oral herpes can spread to the genital area from other parts of the body and from the body to the genital area.

There are several effective medications that can shorten or prevent the outbreak of symptoms. A healthy lifestyle and lower stress is important too.

Other facts:
Four of five people with herpes do not know they have it because they do not have or notice symptoms. Yet they can spread the infection if a small amount of virus is present.


What is it?
Hepatitis is the name for a group of viruses that cause serious infections in the liver. There are three types of Hepatitis – “A”, “B”, and “C”. Hepatitis can permanently damage or destroy the liver. Hepatitis can permanently damage or destroy liver cells. Some people who get hepatitis never completely recover.

How it is spread?
Hepatitis A is caused by drinking or eating contaminated water or food.

Hepatitis B and C are caused by blood or body fluids passed during vaginal, oral or anal sex; sharing contaminated needles, razors, tooth brushes, piercing or hair removal equipment. Treatment:

There is no cure for Hepatitis.

Treatment can only relive symptoms temporarily.

Vaccines can prevent Hepatitis A and B.

Hepatitis C must be treated early. The disease can severely damage the liver before symptoms occur.

Other facts:
People can have the virus for a long time before they realize they are sick. Some people never get sick, yet they can spread the virus with every contact – they are called chronic carriers.


What is it?
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, attacks the body’s defenses by damaging and destroying the cells of the immune system over a period of time. AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the most advanced stage of the infection.

How it is spread?
HIV is spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and sharing needles. Babies born to HIV positive mothers have a 1 in 3 chance of getting HIV before or during birth and through breast milk from an HIV infected mother.

HIV progression can be slowed with certain medications and a healthy lifestyle.

Prevention is the best idea.
Prevent HIV by abstaining from sex, having one lifetime sex partner, and using condoms. Babies born to mothers with HIV have less than a 3% chance that of developing HIV.

Other facts:
There is no evidence that HIV is spread through tears, sweat, urine or feces. HIV is not spread through casual contact. It is found in saliva but has never been know to spread through saliva.


What is it?
Molluscum is very common. The virus causes small, painless, harmless growths in and around the area where it enters the body.

How it is spread?
Rubbing the molluscum areas during sex, sports, child play, etc. It can also be spread by sharing towels, etc.

Molluscum will disappear without treatment, but it can take many months. Removing the center speeds the process.

Other facts:
Molluscum can be easily spread to other areas of the body by shaving, scratching, etc. Hundreds of thousands of people get molluscum every year.


Parasites are small animals or insects. Infections caused by parasites are uncomfortable but usually not dangerous and can all be treated and cured. No cure is complete until all parasites are removed from the person’s environment.


What is it?
Tiny one-celled animal (a protozoa) can cause genital symptoms.

How it is spread?
Trichomonas is spread by vaginal sex, bathing or sharing towels.

Antibiotics kill Trichomonas and cure the disease.

Other facts:
Women usually get symptoms of trichomonas, men rarely do.


What is it?
Pubic lice are tiny, blood-sucking insects that live on the hairy parts of the body.

How it is spread?
Pubic lice are spread by skin-to-skin contact with the person or their personal items.

There are special shampoos and lotions that will kill the lice. These can be purchased at your pharmacy but do not need a prescription. Follow instructions carefully. Treatment is not complete until lice have been eliminated in the living and working area – wash all bedding, towels, and clothing and vacuume the home thoroughly.


What is it?
Scabies is an itchy rash caused when female mites burrow into a person’s skin to lay their eggs. How it is spread?

Scabies mites are transferred by direct skin-to-skin contact.

Prescription medication cure scabies. Do not try to treat scabies on your own.

Other facts:
Towels, bedding, clothes and upholstery can spread the mites but for only a short time.

Other Resources on Sexually Transmitted Infections: