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For Teens: Get the Facts About STIs

Portrait of teen girl.

Q. Would I know it if I had an STI?

A. Maybe not. Many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have signs that are hard to notice. Or you may not have any symptoms at all. And you can catch an STI and not even know it! You may hear an STI also called an STD (sexually transmitted disease). If you are concerned about an STI, talk with an adult you trust or your healthcare provider, school nurse, campus clinic, or local health department. It's important to be tested and to get the right treatment if needed. Be honest with your healthcare provider. They can help you get the tests that are needed.

Q. Do birth control pills prevent STIs?

A. No. Taking the pill doesn’t protect against STIs. Even if you take the pill, you should still use latex condoms.

Q. Is it possible to get more than 1 STI at a time?

A. Yes. You can be infected with more than 1 at a time. People who have an STI may also be at an increased risk of getting HIV.

Q. Can I be checked for an STI during my period?

A. Yes. You can get tested when you have your period. Your period will not affect test results.

Q. How often should I be tested?

A. Any time you develop new symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider. It is best for both partners to be tested for STIs before having sex with each other. If you have multiple or new sex partners, get tested every year. Your healthcare provider will talk with you about which tests you should have.

Q. Is it safe if I only have oral sex?

A. No. Almost every kind of STI can be spread through oral sex.

Q. Do STIs ever go away on their own?

A. No. Even if your symptoms go away, STIs stay in the body. You need to be treated by a healthcare provider. Don’t try to treat yourself!

Q. Can you catch an STI if you’ve already had it before?

A. Yes. Even if you get treated, you can catch some STIs over and over. This is especially true if your sex partner doesn’t get treated. They can pass the disease back to you.

Q. Isn’t HIV/AIDS the only STI I really need to worry about?

A. No. Many STIs besides HIV can cause serious health problems—including death.

Q. Where can I learn more?

A. Talk with your healthcare provider, school nurse, or campus clinic about testing. Or find a testing site by going to the CDC's GetTested website at gettested.cdc.gov/. GetTested is free and confidential.

Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
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