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The truth is, many STDs don’t have symptoms men or women can see or feel. The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to have regular testing for STDs.
Still, it’s important to learn what is normal for your body or your partner’s body. Get things checked out when something changes, like a new or unusual discharge (yellow or white fluid) coming out of your penis.
Other things that may not be normal in men include:
Things that may not be normal in women include:
Depending on the STD you’re being tested for and what place on your body might be infected, you might be asked to pee in a cup (that urine sample could be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomonas), or to give a sample of your blood (that blood could be tested for HIV infection, herpes, or syphilis). If the doctor or nurse thinks it’s necessary, he or she may swab your throat or mouth, the tip of your penis or your anus, or a rash or sore (that swab could be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, or herpes), but the majority of screenings done only require a urine or blood sample.
Yes. Birth control pills, and other birth control methods like the shot (Depo-Provera), the patch (OrthoEvra), and the ring (Nuvaring) are hormones designed to prevent pregnancy. These hormones don’t protect against STDs. Men should still use condoms to protect themselves (and their partners) against infections even if their female partners are on birth control. STDs are transmitted through body fluids like semen and vaginal fluids, or in some cases just by having skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
Yes. Bacterial STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable, but you do not become immune once you’ve been through treatment. Generally if you cure an STD, and then have sex with a partner who is infected, you can get it again. For help discussing ways to get your partner(s) treated, call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Division of STD Prevention at 617-983-6951.
STDs cannot be flushed or washed away, so peeing and washing will not prevent a bacterial or viral STD and nor will they cause a STD to go away.
It depends on the STD. Some STDs, like gonorrhea or chlamydia, may take just a few days to show up on a test. Other STDs, like HIV infection, syphilis or herpes, may take a few weeks to several months to show up on a test. This is why it’s important to get regular testing for STDs. Talk to a doctor or nurse about how often you should get tested for STDs.
No. Any direct contact between your skin and your partner’s skin, or between you and your partner’s body fluids (blood, semen, pre-cum, vaginal fluids) might result in acquiring an STD. So if you only wear a condom right before coming, you might still be exposed to an STD.
While there isn’t any law in Massachusetts that says that you have to tell your partner(s) if you have an STD, not telling your partner(s) that they’ve been exposed to an STD could cause immediate or future health problems for them and any other sex partners they may have. You could also get the infection again if you have sex with a partner who hasn’t been treated. For help discussing options for informing a sex partner(s) and getting them treated, call 617-983-6951 to talk to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Division of STD Prevention.
Yes. In fact, some STDs like HIV may be more contagious when a woman is having her period. And the other STDs are certainly not any less contagious when a woman is having her period.
Yes! In October of 2009, the FDA approved the use of Gardasil for the prevention of two types of HPV (human papillomavirus) in boys and men, aged 9 to 26. Each year, about 2 in every 1,000 men are diagnosed with genital warts caused by HPV, and many of those diagnoses can be prevented with the use of Gardasil. Gardasil is given as three injections over a 6-month period. Headache, fever and pain at the injection site, itching, redness, swelling and bruising, were the most common side effects observed. Talk to your doctor for more information about Gardasil.