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No matter your age, personal hygiene, or health, if you are sexually active, you are at risk for a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that individuals 15-24 years old make up over one-quarter of the sexually active population; however, this group accounts for half of the 20 million STIs in the United States each year. Hope First provides factual information and referrals for testing and treatment to women in our community. At this time we do not provide STI testing.

How Do I Know If I Have an STI?

It is possible to contract sexually transmitted infections/diseases from people who seem perfectly healthy and may not even know they have an infection. You may already be infected and not have any symptoms currently. Usually, symptoms of the diseases show up later when they are harder to treat.

Possible Signs of an STI

  • Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Unusual or odd-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Pain during sex

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Signs and symptoms may appear a few days after exposure, or it may take years before you have any noticeable problems, depending on the organism.” Some STIs are easy to treat and cure when detected early. If left untreated some STIs can lead to infertility, organ damage, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), certain types of cancer, or death.

Pregnancy and STIs

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), says STIs can complicate pregnancy by having serious effects on both the mother and baby. Some common side effects can include low birth weight, preterm labor, and premature birth. Women with an STI can infect their baby either before, during, or after the baby’s birth. The sooner a woman begins receiving care for STIs during pregnancy, the better the health outcome for both the woman and her baby. In addition, women considering abortion should be tested for STIs/STDs to decrease their chances of developing PID.

I Think I May Have an STI

Although you think you have been careful, anyone who has sex with multiple partners runs the risk of having an STI. Testing and early treatment are important for your sexual health. Make an appointment at Hope First to find out more information about sexual health and how you can protect yourself.