An STI is a sexually transmitted infection. This means it’s an infection you can get from sex. Sometimes STIs are called STBBIs. This stands for sexually transmitted and blood borne infections. This is because some infections spread through sex, while others spread through blood or close, non-sexual contact. Some can also spread through all of these!
Most STIs are curable and don’t have a big risk to your health. Most of the ones that aren’t curable are treatable. That means you can take drugs to have less symptoms and make sure you don’t give it to anyone else.
Why do people call it an STI?
STIs get their name because they spread through sexual contact. That means that they can spread when you touch someone else’s privates. They can also spread through someone’s body fluid. The bodily fluids that can spread STIs are:blood, semen, vaginal or front hole fluid, breast milk, and rectal fluid.
Some people also use the term STBBI, which stands for sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections. The “blood-borne” part shows that some infections spread through blood, not just sex. For example, someone can get HIV from sex. But, they can also get it from sharing needles.
What kinds of STIs are there?
There are three main types of STIs: bacterial, viral and parasitic.
These come from bacteria, which are tiny cells that we can only see with a microscope. All bacterial STIs are curable if the person treats it properly. But, some of them can cause serious health problems if they’re not treated. Some bacterial STIs are:
These come from viruses. These have no cure but some people’s bodies can fight them off on their own. Lots of viral STIs have treatments that will limit symptoms and stop someone from spreading it. Some viral STIs are:
- Hepatitis B
These come from small insects and other living things. All of them have cures. Some parasitic STIs are:
- Pubic lice
How do I know if I have an STI?
If you have an STI, you might have some symptoms in your privates. You could feel:
- Burning when you pee
- A new smell coming from your privates
- Bumps or rashes
- Feeling like you have a cold or flu after having unprotected sex
If you have any of these symptoms or other ones in your privates, you can get tested at a clinic. They’ll tell you if you have an STI and how to treat it.
How can I make sure I don’t get an STI?
Different STIs spread in different ways. Some spread through skin-to-skin touch, touching someone’s pubic hair, or bodily fluids. To try and stop the spread of STIs you can use a barrier method. Barriers are things like condoms or dental dams. They stop the spread of fluid between partners and can make it less likely that you touch their skin.
To get an STI your partners have to have one. Having sex can’t create an STI. Someone has to already have an STI to spread one.
Some people who have STIs don’t know they have one because they don’t have any symptoms. To protect yourself you can get tested regularly. Clinics like Head and Hands offer testing for people 12-25! STIs are usually curable or treatable. Lots of people get them! So, if you’re worried that you have one you can go to a clinic and they’ll be able to help you.