Ask Us Anything
The Real Deal About STDs
You know you can't tell if a person has one just by looking…but what ELSE do you need to know about STDs? Sexually transmitted diseases are a big deal and we're here to help. Ask Us Anything about STDs; submit your questions by midnight, Thursday and we’ll post answers around noon ET on Friday.
Are condoms the only form of protection against STDs?
Barrier methods, like condoms (both male and female) are the only effective way to protect against STDs if you are having sex. They’re called barrier methods because they provide a physical barrier between you and your partner.
Of course, the most effective way to prevent against STDs is by not having sex at all, but if you are sexually active there are a few other options available to you: if you’re having sex monogamously with one, a tested partner can reduce your risk of getting an STD. There are also several vaccines available that help prevent some STDs, such as HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B—you can talk to your doctor about whether any of these vaccines are right for you.I find this helpful
How do I ask my boyfriend, without being awkward, if he has/thinks he has a STD?
Talking about STDs with a partner isn’t easy, so it’s okay to be a little nervous—he might be nervous to ask you too! But having an open conversation about STDs with your boyfriend is one of the most effective ways to keep you both healthy. You can start by bringing up the topic in private when it’s just you two, and explain that you’ve been reading up on STDs and it’s possible that either of you could have an STD from a previous relationship and not even know it. If you’re unsure whether you or your boyfriend might have an STD, suggest going to get tested together. Many health centers offer STD tests for free or low cost. If you need help finding a place to get tested, check out our Clinic Locator to find somewhere near you. And remember, having that conversation before you engage in sexual activity (and getting tested if necessary) is an important way to make sure both you and your boyfriend are STD free!I find this helpful
Are some STD's treatable?
Yes—there are various treatments available for STDs, and many STDs are even curable. Bacterial STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be easily cured with antibiotics and leave minimal lasting effects. Treatments are also available for viral STDs like herpes and HIV, which, although controllable with medication, cannot be cured. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you think you or a partner might have an STD to get an accurate diagnosis and figure out what treatment plan is best for you. If you need help finding a health center to get tested, check out our Clinic Locator.I find this helpful
Is it safe to assume that if you've never had sex, then you are clear of STDs?
Not necessarily. All types of sex, including vaginal, anal, genital-to-genital, and oral sex, can spread STDs—meaning that depending on how you define sex, you can still be at risk for an STD. If you think it’s possible you might have an STD, it’s important to get tested before you have any sexual contact with a partner to keep both you and your partner safe.I find this helpful
Even if you haven't had sex before, should you get tested for STD's?
STDs can be spread from vaginal, anal, oral, and genital-to-genital sex, so if you’ve engaged in any of those sexual behaviors it’s a good idea to get tested. Getting tested is the best way to know whether or not you have an STD—and the most important thing is to get tested before you engage in sexual activity, especially if you think you or a partner might have or have been exposed to an STD. If you need help finding a health center to get tested, check out our Clinic Locator.I find this helpful
How can you tell if someone has an STD if you're too afraid to ask?? Is there even a way?
Many STDs show no symptoms at all, so it would be almost impossible to tell if someone has an STD just by looking at them. In fact, most teens and young adults with STDs don’t even know they have one. Asking a partner about their sexual history can be nerve-wracking, but open and honest communication about STDs can keep both you and your partner safe. And who knows, maybe your partner is afraid to ask you too, so don’t wait for him or her to bring it up—it’ll be a relief for you both to talk about it. The only way to be certain about whether someone has an STD is to ask, and if in doubt get tested! If you need help finding a health center to get tested, check out our Clinic Locator.I find this helpful
What are some signs that scream STD?
Some symptoms that might indicate you have an STD include any unusual discharge or odor, itching or irritation, or pain during sex or urination. But a lot of STDs may not have such obvious symptoms—or any at all! Which means many people who are infected might not even know it, so it’s important to get tested even if you don’t see any signs of an STD. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure whether or not you have an STD. If you need help finding a health center to get tested, check out our Clinic Locator.I find this helpful
If neither me nor my partner have an STD, can one of us still contract an STD from sex or oral sex?
Nope—it’s not possible to catch an STD from a partner that’s uninfected! If both you and your partner have been tested and are only having sex with each other, there’s no way for an STD to enter into the picture. But even if you have only one sexual partner, don't just assume your partner is monogamous--ask if you're unsure and get tested if there's a chance you may be at risk for getting an STD. And even if you think you and your partner are STD free, it’s important to get tested to know for sure and to get re-tested if you have sex with a new partner. You can use our Clinic Locator to find a health center near you to get tested.I find this helpful
How can I tell my partner I have an STD ?
Talking to a partner about STDs can be a bit intimidating, but don’t be afraid to talk openly and honestly with your partner about STD testing and prevention—it’s one of the best ways to prevent the spread of STDs. First, talk to your partner as soon as you can and make sure to be open and honest. Your partner might have questions, so you may find it helpful to do some research before you sit down to talk. It’s also important that your partner get tested, so try discussing testing options and maybe even locate a health center where he/she can get tested and treated if necessary. Before you engage in any sexual activity, try thinking together about ways to prevent spreading the STD to your partner—whether that’s using barrier methods of STD protection during sex or waiting to engage in sexual activity until you’ve both been tested and/or treated. If you need help finding a health center to get tested, check out our Clinic Locator.I find this helpful
My girlfriend and i are both virgins at the moment but is it possible that you can be born with a STD?
Depending on how you define the term virgin, it is possible that either you or your girlfriend could have an STD since STDs can be transmitted during different types of sexual contact, not just intercourse. And while some STDs can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth, you are far more likely to contract an STD through sexual contact. It’s a good idea to discuss your sexual history with your girlfriend and get tested if there’s any chance either of you might have been exposed to an STD. Take a look at our Clinic Locator to find a clinic near you!I find this helpful
Can you have more than one STD at the same time?
Yes! You can have more than one STD at the same time, and you can even get the same STD again if you’re sexually active. It’s also possible that only one STD will present symptoms, so if you do test positive for one it’s a good idea to get tested for other potential STDs. Because each STD has its own test, it’s important to talk to your doctor about which ones you should be tested for. If you need help finding a health center to get tested, check out our Clinic Locator.I find this helpful
How do you ask your significant other if they have STD's in a non-accusatory way?
Talking to a significant other or sexual partner about STDs can be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s important to be open and honest for both your health and the health of your partner! Try starting a conversation in private, focusing on your concern for your significant other’s sexual health as well as your own. You can tell your significant other that you did some research and found that STDs are way more common than you had realized, so it’s possible that one of you could have an STD and not even know it. Suggest getting tested together to put less focus on your partner and more on the health of your relationship. You also may find it helpful to read up on STDs to feel calm and confident going into your conversation, and to help you answer any questions your significant other might have. To find a place where you, your significant other, or both of you together can get tested, check out our Clinic Locator.I find this helpful
When would be a good time to begin getting tested for STD's?
If you have had any type of sex, you should get tested. It’s also a good idea to get tested once a year, whenever you have a new sexual partner, have unprotected sex with an untested partner, or if you think your partner might have an STD. Otherwise, if you have any doubt or show any symptoms of an STD, it’s important to get tested, both for your own sexual health and the health of your partner(s). Check out our Clinic Locator to find a health center to get tested.I find this helpful
If you've had an STD before are you more prone to getting one again?
While just having an STD in the past won’t necessarily increase your chances of getting one in the future, engaging in behaviors that put you or your partner at risk for getting an STD will make it more likely to contract one again. Even if you’ve been treated for a bacterial STD, it is possible to be re-infected by a new partner, especially if you are engaging in unprotected sexual contact of any kind. Additionally, having STDs that result in open sores (such as syphilis, herpes or genital warts) greatly increases your chances of contracting HIV. So if you think you may have been exposed to an STD or notice any symptoms, it’s important to get tested and treated as soon as possible. You can use our Clinic Locator to find a health center near you.I find this helpful