sexually transmitted infection

What is a sexually transmitted infection(STI)?

March 16, 2022

An STI, or sexually transmitted infection, is an infection caused by bacteria, viruses or a pathogen that is transmitted through sexual contact. Sexual contact can include vaginal, oral or anal sex. Some STIs can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Examples of STIs include chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, pelvic inflammatory disease, public lice (crabs), syphilis and trichomoniasis.

What are the symptoms of an STI?

Vaginal discharge, urethral discharge or burning in men, genital ulcers, and abdominal pain are common symptoms of an STI, but sometimes there are no symptoms at all.

Did you know?

Over 1 million sexually transmitted infections are acquired everyday worldwide.

When should I see a doctor?

You should see a doctor if:

  • You are sexually active and may have been exposed to an STI
  • You have signs and symptoms of an STI

If you think you might have an STI, it is best to abstain from sexual activity until you have spoken with a doctor.

If I don’t have any symptoms, do I need to get treatment?

Even if you do not have any symptoms it is important to get treated if you have an STI. An STI can spread to other people you have sexual contact with or your child if you are pregnant. In addition, even if you do not have symptoms at the moment an STI can lead to downstream health complications if left untreated.

How do you diagnose an STI?

Your doctor will assess your symptoms but they may also need to run additional tests. Depending on the suspected STI, this may include:

  • A physical exam
  • A swab of bodily fluid
  • A blood test

Can an STI be treated?

Depending on the type of infection, there are a variety of different treatment options. Some examples include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antiviral drugs
  • Oral or topical medications
  • Surgery

You may also be asked to abstain from sex until your treatment is completed.

Unfortunately some STIs, such as genital warts and AIDS, are not completely curable.

STI prevention tips

Make sex safer by following these tips to reduce the risk of contracting an STI:

  • Have an open discussion about your sexual history with any new partners
  • Get tested regularly for STIs, especially if you have a new partner or multiple partners
  • Use a condom during vaginal, oral, or anal sex
  • Consider getting vaccinated for hepatitis B and HPV
  • If you are at high risk of contracting HIV talk to your doctor about preventative medications that may reduce your risk

Can someone at Pulse On Call help me?

Of course! Schedule an online doctors appointment and one of our team members will be happy to help. Our licensed Canadian physicians can help diagnose and can also provide prescriptions online.

If additional testing is required, we can still help! Our doctors can help find a nearby facility to help carry out any required testing or refer you to a local specialist.

The best part? You can do it from the comfort of your own home and it’s free if you have OHIP coverage!

*Please Note:

Please note that all information within this posting is up-to-date at the time of publication.