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Sexually Transmitted Disease | STD

Many people with STDs do not show symptoms. If you are at risk of exposure to an STD, it is important to get tested. MaineHealth provides STD screening, vaccination and treatment options that can protect your sexual health.

What are sexually transmitted diseases?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are two names for the same group of medical conditions. STDs/STIs are conditions you can get during contact with an infected sexual partner. STDs can be transmitted from bacteria or viruses. They can also be passed on to a baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Examples of STDs include:

  • Chlamydia

  • Syphilis

  • Hepatitis A/B

  • Gonorrhea

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Genital herpes

  • Genital warts or human papillomavirus (HPV)

  • Trichomoniasis

Who is at risk for STDs?

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of getting an STD. Using condoms can greatly decrease your risk. Young adults and adolescents make up half of those infected. Those who are at greater risk for contracting STDs include:

  • People with multiple sexual partners

  • People who have had sexual contact with someone with an STD

  • People with a history of STDs

  • People who have sexual contact without a condom

  • People with bacterial vaginosis

  • Men who have sex with other men

  • Injection drug users

  • People who have not been vaccinated

Not all STDs have the same symptoms

STD symptoms vary depending on the infection. Many infections go undetected, because the person has no symptoms. But infections without symptoms can still be spread. Common STD symptoms may include:

  • Painful urination

  • Genital discharge

  • Heavy or erratic periods in women

  • Vaginal itching, vaginal irritation, vaginal odor

  • Testicular pain

  • Painful intercourse

  • Anal itching

How do you treat STDs/STIs?

Timely diagnosis is critical to effective treatment. Viral STDs like herpes, HPV and HIV cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated. Bacterial STDs, such as chlamydia and syphilis, can be cured with antibiotics. These antibiotics are usually given by mouth, but can also be injected or applied directly to the infected area. STDs make you more susceptible to other infections. It is possible to treat two infections at once.

Continuing treatment is important, even after symptoms start to clear. The infection can still be passed to a partner regardless of symptoms. STDs can have serious consequences if left untreated. Speak with any sexual partners about possible infection risks.

Ask your doctor about STD testing and vaccination

Vaccinations for HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B are available. Talk to your family doctor or primary care physician for more information about vaccinations and testing.

HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine is recommended for kids age 9 to 11 years old, and for older kids who aren't yet vaccinated.