What are STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected individual. STDs can be transmitted during vaginal or other types of sexual intercourse including oral and anal sex. Most bacterial infections (like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis) are curable with antibiotics. Herpes, HIV and genital warts (HPV) are all caused by viruses and can be treated to reduce symptoms, but there is no cure.
How are STDs spread?
You can get an STD by having sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who has an STD. Anyone who is sexually active can get an STD. You don’t even have to “go all the way” (have anal or vaginal sex) to get an STD, since some STDs, like herpes and genital warts, are spread by skin-to-skin contact.
How do I know if I have an STD?
Since most STDs have no symptoms at all, the only way to know for sure is to get tested. Testing is always confidential and is often free or low-cost. Many STDs are curable and can easily be treated at a clinic. If you do not get treated, you can develop permanent damage and pass your STD on to others.
What can I do to protect myself?
The surest way to protect yourself against STDs is to not have sex. That means not having any vaginal, anal, or oral sex (“abstinence”). There are many things to consider before having sex , and it’s okay to say “no” if you don’t want to have sex.
If you do decide to have sex, you and your partner should get tested beforehand and make sure that you and your partner use a condom—every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex, from start to finish. Know where to get condoms and how to use them correctly. Visit www.condomfinder.org to find free condoms near you.
- Mutual monogamy means that you and your partner both agree to only have sexual contact with each other. It is not safe to stop using condoms unless you’ve both been tested, know your status, and are in a mutually monogamous relationship. This can help protect against STDs, as long as you’ve both been tested and know you’re STD-free.
Before you have sex, talk with your partner about how you will prevent STDs and pregnancy. If you think you’re ready to have sex, you need to be ready to protect your body and your future.
Avoid using alcohol and drugs. If you use alcohol and drugs, you are more likely to take risks, like not using a condom or having sex with someone you normally wouldn’t have sex with.
Where can I get tested?
Butte County Public Health Clinics in Chico and Oroville provide free or low-cost STD testing and treatment.