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Nurse’s Corner — FAQs about STDs

Nurse’s Corner — FAQs about STDs

Nurse’s Corner — FAQs about STDs

Do you have endless questions on STDs and how they can affect you and your partner? It’s completely understandable to have many questions about STDs. You have come to the right place. We want you to feel empowered with the answers you need to make the best-informed choices for you and your partner. 

Mayo Clinic, Reduce Risks of STIs

STDs and STIs — What’s the difference?

Do you ever wonder what the difference is between a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? You are not the only one. Most of us are familiar with the term STDs. But what exactly is an STI? We hear the terms used in exchange for one another, but it turns out they have different meanings. An STI is an infection that results from a virus, bacteria, or parasite you can receive through sexual contact with an infected person. It’s possible for the infected person to not display symptoms and therefore not know they are carrying it. The difference is when someone with an STI begins to present with symptoms and disease, this is now considered an STD. 

CDC, What are STDs? STD or STI?

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about STDs/STIs

Like we mentioned earlier, it’s totally understandable to have questions — and we at ThriVe+ are here to empower you with information. Here are some common questions that many people have. 

1. What are the most common STDs? 

There are over a dozen known STDs (which can be overwhelming!), so we’ll narrow it down to the most common ones you may have heard of. 

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): A bacterial vaginal infection that is common and treatable. 

Mayo Clinic, Bacterial vaginosis

Chlamydia: A bacterial infection that can harm a woman’s reproductive system and can affect men as well. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms

Gonorrhea: A bacterial infection that causes disease symptoms affecting the uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes of a woman. It can also cause symptoms in male and female rectums as well as orally in the throat and mouth. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms

Herpes: A viral infection that causes sores in the genital area. Like many other STDs, this infection can be present without symptoms. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus): A viral infection that presents in both early and late stages. Early symptoms may disappear within a month and may not reappear for many years. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms

Human Papillomavirus (HPV): A viral infection that affects women’s cervix and may cause warts in the genital area. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms

Syphilis: A bacterial infection that occurs in three stages. It first affects the genital area and later on may affect the brain and heart. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms

Shot of a doctor checking a patient for STDs.

2. What are the symptoms of STDs? 

The symptoms of STDs vary. It is quite possible to have the infection — but not show any symptoms. That’s why testing is very important for you and your partner. The need for testing increases if you have had unprotected sex or sex with a new partner. However, there are some common symptoms that you can watch out for. Here are a few of them. 

-abdominal pain in the lower region

-discharge from the penis

-pain or burning sensation while urinating

-rash on the abdomen, hands, or feet

-sex becomes painful

-signs of a fever

-sores or bumps in the genital, oral, or rectal area

-vaginal bleeding that is new or uncommon

-vaginal discharge with foul odor

It is important to look out for these symptoms in yourself as well as your partner —as it could be a sign that you may have an STD (and which prompts the need for testing). ThriVe+ offers lab-quality testing for STDs with no-cost to you. We are here to help you find answers.

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Symptoms & causes

3. How can I tell if I have an STD? 

What is the best way to tell if you have an STD? Get tested. A wide variety of symptoms exist with STDs. And it’s not unlikely to have an infection without symptoms.  If you think you have symptoms (like ones listed above), it is important for you to make an appointment with a medical professional for STD testing. You can make an appointment with ThriVe+ and speak to one of the nurses in a judgment free space. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Diagnosis & treatment

4. Can STDs be treated or cured? 

Because STDs are caused by infections from bacteria, viruses, and parasites, it is possible to treat them with medications. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics and generally have a better outcome of treatment. When you are prescribed an antibiotic it is very important to finish the entire prescription as directed to ensure the medication works properly. Viral infections are often more difficult to treat and therefore are often not cured — but managed as well as possible with antiviral medications. STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are treated with antibiotics. Herpes and HIV are examples of STDs managed with antiviral medications. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Diagnosis & treatment

5. Can STDs lead to other health problems? 

What happens if your STD is left untreated? If left untreated, STDs can unfortunately lead to other health issues. Seek testing first to confirm the diagnosis. Once you have confirmation of the STD, you can receive treatment. This will help prevent you from experiencing possible further complications of an untreated infection. Other health problems vary but can include the following.

-Arthritis

-Cancer of the cervix or rectum

-Complications in pregnancy 

-Heart disease

-Infertility

-Inflammation of the eye

Just remember, the earlier the testing, the greater chance of preventing complications. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Diagnosis & treatment

6. Do I need an STD test before an abortion? 

Currently, there is not a lot of information about the need for testing before an abortion. Regardless, testing should be done.

7. What happens during an STD test? Are they accurate/how often should I be tested? 

Testing for STDs comes in many forms. Your medical professional will determine what tests to order based on your symptoms and your sexual history. The three main types of tests are listed below. 

  • Blood: A medical professional will draw your blood and use it as a sample to perform STD testing.
  • Urine: You will provide a urine sample used to diagnose the presence of certain STDs.
  • Swab: A medical professional may swab an open sore on your genital area as a sample for certain STD testing.

Portrait of a happy biracial doctor available to answer questions about STDs.

If you are wondering how often you should be tested, that is a great question.

It depends on the person. Without symptoms of an STD, routine screening for STDs is typically not part of routine healthcare. Your medical professional may recommend testing based on a recent change in your sexual history that could pose a risk for infection. Screening once for HIV is recommended for everyone, ages 15-65. For pregnant women, medical experts recommend testing for HIV, chlamydia, and syphilis at the beginning of pregnancy. Sexually active women under the age of 25 are encouraged to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. 

Do you have a new partner? Testing for STDs is also recommended for yourself and your new partner before you have sex. This protects you and the other person. 

Mayo Clinic, Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Diagnosis & treatment

8. If I have an STD, does my partner need to be tested too? 

Your partner’s health is important too. Be open with them and let them know what is going on. It is recommended that your partner be tested if you have a recent diagnosis of an STI or show symptoms of an STD.

CDC, Conversation Tips with your partner   

CDC, Just Diagnosed?

The thought of having an STD or experiencing what you think are symptoms of an STD can feel scary and overwhelming. ThriVe+ is here to help you. We offer support and testing to give you the best options for your health.

Healthy • Safe • Strong

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