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What to Look For and What to Do

April 13, 1998

Facts About STDs

* Sexually transmitted diseases are contracted from having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who has an STD.

* Many people with STDs have no symptoms at all. STDs can still be passed even if there are no apparent symptoms.

* If not treated, STDs can cause serious health problems, even death. Some STDs can cause sterility. In pregnant women, STDs can harm or even kill the fetus.

* Most STDs can be cured. But some remain in the body indefinitely and have symptoms that may recur.

* If you have an STD, both you and your partner or partners need to be treated. If not, the disease can be transferred back and forth.

Signs of STDs

* Discharge: Men may have a white, yellow or green discharge from the penis. Women may have a change in the flow from the vagina, such as a color change, itching or bad smell. Discharge may be a sign of chlamydia, gonorrhea or vaginitis. Discharge from the anus may also be a sign of an STD.

* Sores and bumps: Sores, bumps, blisters or rashes on or near the penis, vagina, anus or mouth may be from an STD. Sores may be a sign of herpes or syphilis. Skin-colored bumps may be a sign of genital warts.

* Itching: Itching around the penis, vagina or other areas may be a sign of crabs (lice) or scabies. In women, itching around the vagina may also be a sign of vaginitis.

* Pain in the lower belly: In women, pain in the lower belly, fever, bleeding between periods or pain during sex can be signs of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).


* Abstinence is the best way to protect yourself. Using a latex condom is the best protection for the sexually active. Learn how to use them correctly.

* Limit sex partners. The more people you have sex with, the greater the chances of getting an STD.

* Check yourself and your partner for sores, bumps, discharge and other signs of STDs. Don't have sex if you or your partner have any signs. Go to a clinic to get tested.

* Get regular checkups. You can have an STD without any signs. Get checked every six months if you change partners, have more than one partner or if your partner could be having sex with anyone else.

--Los Angeles County Sexually Transmitted Disease Program

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