Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's) are infections of bacteria and viruses that are spread from one person to another through sexual touching. This includes vaginal/penial, oral and anal sex. Mutual masturbation can also spread these infections if you are touching each other directly on the skin. You are not likely to get an STI by touching through clothing unless semen or vaginal fluids soak through the material. Some infections have symptoms and some do not. It could take 1-3 weeks for symptoms to occur.
If left untreated, some of the STIs can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). The bacteria enters the abdomen through the genitals, creates pain and swelling in the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries. This can cause swelling and scarring that may lead to infertility for females. For males, the infections can cause swelling and scarring in the testicles and can lead to infertility, as well.
Some of these infections are reported to the state health department to make sure everyone is treated. In the state of Colorado, your health care provider is allowed to treat your partner without seeing them.
Testing is available at our clinic for all of these infections. A urine or blood test can tell you if you have an infection. It is important to tell your health care provider what kind of sexual touching you have done. This will help them test you in the places you could be exposed. For example, if you had oral sex, a urine test will not detect an infection in your throat.
The only way to prevent infections is to abstain from sex. Condoms and dental dams can reduce your risk of getting an STI. A dental dam is a flat piece of latex that is placed over a woman's vulva (external genitals) prior to oral sex. It creates a barrier between her skin and her partner. A condom should be placed over the penis prior to oral sex on a male.
This page gives a brief overview of the STIs. There is much more information available on each infection.