Sexually Transmitted Infections (STDs)
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STDs are infections that are spread from one person to another, usually during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They’re very common, and most STDs are easy to treat.

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If you're sexually active, getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. has an STD, and most people don't even know they have one. At Trillium Health, we're here to talk to you about your sexual history and provide free STD testing.

1 in 5 people have an STD.

Who should be tested for STDs?

Everyone
Ages 13-64 should be tested at least once for HIV and Hepatitis C

Sexually Active Women
Should be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea

Pregnant Women
Should be tested for syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, chlamydia and gonorrhea

Gay Men, Bisexual Men, and men who have sex with men
Should be tested for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and Hepatitis C

People who share Injection drug equipment
Should get tested for HIV and Hepatitis C

have a question about your sexual health?

We have a whole team of providers who can help you.

Rose is one of our sexual health experts at Trillium Health. We sat down and asked her some common questions.

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learn about STDs

  • What is chlamydia?

    Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs that can infect both men and women. Most people who have chlamydia don’t show any symptoms, but it can be easily cured with antibiotics.

    How is chlamydia spread?

    You can get chlamydia by having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia. It can infect the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, eyes, and throat. If you are pregnant, you can give chlamydia to your baby during childbirth.

    How do I know if I have chlamydia?

    Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner.

    Symptoms in women can include:
    -Abnormal vaginal discharge
    -A burning sensation when urinating

    Symptoms in men can include:
    -
    Discharge from the penis
    -A burning sensation when urinating
    -Pain and swelling in one or both testicles

    Rectum symptoms can include:
    -Rectal pain
    -Discharge
    -Bleeding

    What happens if I don’t get treated?

    The initial damage that chlamydia causes often goes unnoticed. However, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems.

    In women, untreated chlamydia can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes. This can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID often has no symptoms, however some women may have abdominal and pelvic pain. PID can lead to long-term pelvic pain, inability to get pregnant, and potentially deadly ectopic pregnancy.

    Men rarely have health problems linked to chlamydia. Infection sometimes spreads to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles, causing pain and fever. Rarely, chlamydia can prevent a man from being able to have children.

    Untreated chlamydia may also increase your chances of getting or giving HIV – the virus that causes AIDS.

  • What are Genital Warts?

    Genital warts are caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) and are treatable.

    Genital warts show up on the skin around your genitals and anus. They’re the most common STD, but most of the time they go away on their own. Sometimes certain types of “high-risk” HPV can develop into cancer if left untreated. Other “low-risk” types of HPV can cause warts on your vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis or scrotum.

    How do you get genital warts?

    You get genital warts from having skin-to-skin contact with someone who’s infected, often during unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex. You can spread them even when you don’t have any visible warts or other symptoms, though that’s less common.

    Genital warts are different from warts you might get elsewhere on your body. So you can’t get genital warts by touching yourself (or a partner) with a wart that’s on your hand or foot.

    You’re more likely to pass genital warts when you’re having symptoms. So if you notice a wart, it’s best to get tested and treated to help lower the risk of passing genital warts on to a partner.

    What are the symptoms?

    Genital warts look like skin-colored or whitish bumps that show up on your vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, or anus. They kind of look like little pieces of cauliflower. You can have just one wart or a bunch of them, and they can be big or small. They might be itchy, but most of the time they don’t hurt.

  • What is Gonorrhea?

    Gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs that can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. Most people with gonorrhea don’t have symptoms. Gonorrhea is sometimes called “the clap” or “the drip.”

    How is gonorrhea spread?

    Gonorrhea is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex. The infection is carried in semen (cum), pre-cum, and vaginal fluids. You can also get gonorrhea by touching your eye if you have infected fluids on your hand. Gonorrhea can also be spread to a baby during birth if the mother has it.

    What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

    Gonorrhea doesn’t always have symptoms, so many people don’t know they have it.

    Most women who get gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. If they do, gonorrhea symptoms show up within about a week of being infected. These include:
    -Pain or burning feeling when you pee
    -Abnormal discharge from the vagina that may be yellowish or bloody
    -Bleeding between periods

    Men are more likely to have symptoms if they get gonorrhea. The symptoms usually begin within a week after they get the infection. These include:
    -Yellow, white, or green discharge from the penis
    -Pain or burning feeling when you pee
    -Pain or swelling in the testicles

    Anal gonorrhea often doesn’t have any symptoms, but signs of gonorrhea in your anus can include:
    -Itching in or around your anus
    -Discharge from your anus
    -Pain when you poop

  • What is Hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B is an infection that can cause liver disease. It usually will go away by itself, but it may become chronic and seriously damage your liver.

    How do you get hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B is contagious, but it isn’t spread through saliva (spit), so you CAN’T get it from sharing food or drinks or using the same utensils as someone who is infected. Hepatitis B is also not spread through kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding. It’s transmitted through contact with semen (cum), vaginal fluids, and blood. You can get it from:
    -Having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex
    -Sharing toothbrushes and razors
    -Sharing needles for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
    -Getting stuck with a needle that has the virus on it
    -Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it

    What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B often has no symptoms. About half of adults with hepatitis B never get any symptoms. The symptoms can also feel like other illnesses, like the flu. So it’s possible to have the infection and not know it.

    When people do show signs of hepatitis B, they usually show up between 6 weeks and 6 months after they got the virus. Hepatitis B symptoms typically last for a few weeks, but can sometimes stick around for months.

    These symptoms can include:
    -Feeling really tired
    -Pain in your stomach
    -Losing your appetite
    -Nausea and vomiting
    -Pain in your joints
    -Headache
    -Fever
    -Hives
    -Dark-colored urine
    -Pale, clay-colored bowel movements
    -Jaundice — when your eyes and skin get yellow

    If you have any symptoms of hepatitis B, it’s important to check with a doctor or nurse for testing.

  • What are Oral & Genital Herpes?

    Herpes is a common virus that causes sores on your genitals and/or mouth.

    Herpes is caused by two different but similar viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both kinds can make sores pop up on and around your vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, scrotum, butt, inner thighs, lips, mouth, and throat that come and go.

    How do you get herpes?

    Herpes is spread from skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, often during vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, and kissing.

    Herpes is most contagious when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also “shed” and get passed to others when there are no sores. Most people get herpes from someone who doesn’t have any sores. It may live in your body for years without causing any symptoms, so it’s really hard to know for sure when and how you got it.

    Because the virus dies quickly outside the body, you can’t get herpes from hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or sitting on toilet seats.

    Genital herpes symptoms

    The most common symptoms of genital herpes is a group of itchy or painful blisters. The blisters break and turn into sores.

    Other symptoms:
    -Burning when you pee if your urine touches the herpes sores
    -Having trouble peeing because the sores and swelling are blocking your urethra
    -Itching
    -Pain around your genitals

    If your genital herpes is caused by HSV-2, you might also have flu-like symptoms, such as:
    -Swollen glands in your pelvic area, throat, and under your arms
    -Fever
    -Chills
    -Headache
    -Feeling achy and tired

    When blisters and other genital herpes symptoms show up, it’s called an outbreak. The first outbreak (also called the “first episode” or “initial herpes”) usually starts about 2 to 20 days after you get infected with herpes. But sometimes it takes years for the first outbreak to happen.

    The first herpes outbreak lasts about 2 to 4 weeks. Even though the blisters go away, the virus stays in your body and can cause sores again. It’s common to get repeat outbreaks, especially during the first year you have herpes.

    Oral herpes symptoms

    Usually, oral herpes is less painful than genital herpes and doesn’t make you feel as sick. Oral herpes causes sores on your lips or around your mouth, called cold sores or fever blisters. Cold sores last a few weeks and then go away on their own. They can pop up again in weeks, months, or years.

    How is herpes treated?

    There’s no cure for herpes, but medication can ease your symptoms and lower your chances of giving the virus to other people. Outbreaks usually become less frequent over time, and even though herpes can be uncomfortable and painful, it’s not dangerous. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live perfectly healthy lives.

  • What is HIV & AIDS?

    HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, they are not the same thing. People living with HIV do not always have AIDS. HIV damages your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick.

    How is HIV spread?

    HIV is spread through semen, vaginal fluids, anal mucus, blood, and breast milk. The virus gets in your body through cuts or sores in your skin, and through mucous membranes (like the inside of the vagina, rectum, and opening of the penis). You can get HIV from:
    -Having unprotected vaginal or anal sex
    -Sharing needles or syringes for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
    -Getting stuck with a needle that has HIV-infected blood on it
    -Getting HIV-infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids into open cuts or sores

    HIV isn’t spread through saliva, so you can’t get HIV from kissing, sharing food or drinks, or using the same fork or spoon as someone with HIV. HIV is also not spread through hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or toilet seats.

    What are the symptoms of HIV & AIDS?

    People with HIV don’t usually have symptoms right away, so they may not know they have it. It can be years before HIV makes you feel sick.

    The first 2-4 weeks after being infected with HIV, you may feel flu-like symptoms. During this time, it’s really easy to spread HIV to other people. The symptoms only last for a few weeks, and then you usually don’t have symptoms again for years. But HIV can be spread to other people — whether or not you have symptoms or feel sick.

    HIV destroys cells in your immune system called CD4 cells or T cells. Without CD4 cells, your body has a hard time fighting off diseases. Over time, the damage HIV does to your immune system leads to AIDS.

    You have AIDS when you get rare infections (called opportunistic infections) or types of cancer, or if you’ve lost a certain number of CD4 cells. This usually happens about 10 years after getting HIV if you don’t get treatment. Treatment can delay or even prevent you from ever developing AIDS.

    Testing & Treatment for HIV

    Once you have HIV, the virus stays in your body for life. While there’s no cure for HIV, medicines can help you stay healthy. HIV medicine lowers or even stops your chances of spreading the virus to other people. Studies show that using HIV treatment as directed can lower the amount of HIV in your blood so much that it might not even show up on a test — U=U. When this happens, you can’t transmit HIV through sex.

  • What is HPV?

    Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts.

    There are more than 200 types of HPV. About 40 kinds can infect your genital area — your vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, and scrotum — as well as your mouth and throat. These kinds of HPV are spread during sexual contact. Other types of HPV cause common warts like hand warts and plantar warts on the feet — but these aren’t sexually transmitted.

    At least a dozen types of HPV can sometimes lead to cancer. These are called high-risk HPV. Cervical cancer is most commonly linked to HPV, but HPV can also cause cancer in your vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, and throat.

    How do you get HPV?

    HPV is easily spread from sexual skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it. You get it when your vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, or anus touches someone else’s genitals or mouth and throat during unprotected sex.

    HPV is so common that most people who have sex get HPV at some point in their lives but have no symptoms so they don’t even know they’re infected. HPV usually goes away on its own.

    What are the symptoms of HPV?

    Most people with HPV don’t have any symptoms or health problems. People who have a high-risk type of HPV usually will never show any signs of the infection until it’s already caused serious health problems. That’s why regular checkups are so important. Pap and HPV tests are the only way to know for sure if you’re at risk for cancer from HPV. Testing can find HPV and abnormal cell changes before they cause problems, so you can get treatment to stay healthy. In most cases, cervical cancer is preventable if your doctor catches the warning signs early.

    How often you should get tested depends on your age, medical history, and the results of your last Pap or HPV tests. In general:
    -If you’re 21–24 years old: you can choose to get a Pap test every 3 years, or you can wait until you’re 25 years old to start getting tested.
    -If you’re 25–65 years old: get a Pap test and HPV test together every 3 years.
    -If you’re older than 65: you may not need HPV/Pap tests anymore.

    Your doctor or nurse will tell you which tests you may need and how often you should get them.

    If your Pap test or HPV test comes back positive or abnormal, don’t panic — most of the time, it doesn’t mean that you have cancer. Your nurse or doctor will talk with you about any other testing or treatments you may need.

    For most people with HPV, the infection will go away without causing any problems. But you can still pass HPV to your partner(s), even if you don’t have any symptoms — that’s why having protected sex is important.

  • What are pubic lice?

    Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are small parasites that look like tiny crabs and attach to the skin and hair near your genitals. Crabs aren’t dangerous, and they’re usually pretty easy to get rid of.

    How do you get pubic lice?

    Pubic lice are usually spread through sex, because they like to live in pubic hair. Pubic lice move easily from one person’s hairs to another person’s hairs when their genitals touch or are very close to each other. 

    Pubic lice are sometimes spread through other kinds of close, personal contact. You can get pubic lice where other types of coarse hair, like eyelashes, eyebrows, chest hair, armpits, beards, and mustaches, touch places on someone’s body where crabs are. Sometimes pubic lice are spread by using an infected person’s clothes, towels, or bed. Pubic lice don’t spread through quick, casual touching, like handshakes or hugs.

    Crabs usually aren’t found in the hair on top of your head. Pubic lice are different than head lice.

    What are the symptoms of pubic lice?

    The most common symptom of pubic lice is itching near your genitals. You may also see crabs or eggs in your pubic hair. Usually, the symptoms of pubic lice start about 5 days after you get them.

    The most common symptom of pubic lice is intense itching in your pubic area. The itching and irritation is caused by your body’s reaction to the crabs’ bites.

    Testing & Treatment

    Pubic lice are easy to treat. You usually don’t need a doctor’s prescription and can get over-the-counter pubic lice treatment at a drugstore. Call your doctor if you have questions.

    Even after you finish the treatment, most of the nits (lice eggs) will stay stuck to your hairs. You can pick them off with your fingernails or a fine-toothed comb.

    Along with using medication, wash or dry clean all of your bedding and towels. Also wash or dry clean any clothing that you wore while you had crabs. Wash these fabrics on the hottest setting, and dry on them on the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes.

    You can also put fabrics that can’t be washed in a sealed bag for 2 weeks, until the crabs and their eggs die out. You can also vacuum rugs and furniture.

    If you still see live lice after 9-10 days, do the treatment again. And make sure you’ve washed everything you needed to, and that your sexual partners did the treatment too. If the crabs still don’t go away, talk to your doctor.

  • What is scabies?

    Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by tiny parasites. Scabies causes rashes, irritation, and itching. Scabies mites burrow underneath the top layer of your skin and lay eggs. The eggs lead to more mites, but most people with scabies only have about 10-15 mites on their body at a time. The mites are super small so you might not see them, but you’ll probably notice the itching and irritation they cause.

    How do you get scabies?

    Scabies is spread by direct skin-to-skin touching. This usually happens during sex, especially when your bodies are touching or close for a long time. While most adults get scabies from sex, you can get it other ways, too. Scabies can be spread to other people in your home, and it’s common in crowded places that may have lots of close skin contact (like nursing homes, prisons, and child care places). You can sometimes get scabies from sharing an infected person’s clothes, towels, or bedding.

    Scabies symptoms

    The symptoms of scabies include:
    -Intense itching that gets worse at night.
    -Rashes that have pimple-like bumps, tiny blisters, or scales.
    -Small, raised, crooked lines on your skin

    Places where people usually get a scabies rash include:
    -The webbing between your fingers
    -Where your wrist, elbow, or knee bends
    -Pubic and groin areas
    -Breasts
    -Belly button
    -Penis and scrotum
    -Thighs and the lower part of your butt
    -Shoulder blades
    -Around your waist

    When does the scabies skin rash usually develop?

    If you’ve never had scabies before, it can take up to 3-6 weeks after you get scabies for the symptoms to start. But if you've had scabies before and get it again, the symptoms can start within a few days. You can spread scabies to other people as soon as you get it — even before you have symptoms.

    Testing & Treatment

    Call your doctor to get tested if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described. Scabies is cured with pills or medicated creams that kill mites and eggs. You need a prescription from a doctor for scabies treatment. Along with using medication, wash or dry clean all of your clothes, bedding and towels. You can put things you cannot wash that may be infected in a sealed bag for at least three days, until the scabies mites and their eggs die out. It’s also a good idea to vacuum carpets and furniture where infected people hung out.

  • What is Syphilis?

    Syphilis is a common STD that causes sores on your genitals called chancres. The sores are usually painless, but they can easily spread the infection to other people. You get syphilis from contact with the sores.

    How do you get syphilis?

    Syphilis is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex. A mother can also pass syphilis to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth, which can be dangerous.

    Syphilis is very easy to give to other people in the beginning when there are sores. Syphilis isn’t spread through casual contact, so you can’t get it from sharing food or drinks, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, sharing towels, or sitting on toilet seats.

    What are the symptoms of syphilis?

    Syphilis is sneaky, because you or your partner may not have any symptoms that you see or feel. Most of the time, people don’t even realize they have syphilis — that’s part of the reason it’s a common infection (and why it’s so important to get tested).

    Syphilis can confusing because there are a few different stages, and they can overlap or happen around the same time. Symptoms can vary with each stage, and they might not always happen in the same order for everyone.

    Primary stage

    A syphilis sore pops up — that sore is where the syphilis infection entered your body. Sores are usually firm, round, and painless, or sometimes open and wet. There’s often only 1 sore, but you may have more.

    Sores typically show up anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months after you get the infection. The sores usually last about 3 to 6 weeks and then go away on their own — with or without treatment. But if you don’t get treated, you still have syphilis, even if the sores are gone. You have to take medication to cure syphilis and stop it from moving to the next stage.

    Secondary stage

    Secondary stage symptoms include rashes on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, or other parts of your body. The secondary syphilis rash is sometimes hard to see, and it usually doesn’t itch. You may feel sick and have mild flu-like symptoms, like a slight fever, feeling tired, sore throat, swollen glands, headache, and muscle aches. You can also have sores in your mouth, vagina, or anus, and weight or hair loss.

    Secondary stage symptoms can last 2 to 6 weeks at a time, and may come and go for up to 2 years. They’re similar to other common illnesses, so it can be hard to tell it’s syphilis. The symptoms from this stage will go away by themselves with or without treatment. But unless you get treated for syphilis, you’ll still have the infection in your body and it can move into the dangerous later stages.

    Late stage

    In between the secondary stage and the late stage, there may be times when your syphilis infection is latent (there are no signs or symptoms at all) for months or even years — but you still need treatment to get rid of it. Late stages of syphilis can cause tumors, blindness, and paralysis. It can damage your nervous system, brain and other organs, and may even kill you.

    Testing & Treatment

    Your doctor can test you for Syphilis. It’s easily curable with antibiotics in the early stages. If you get treatment late, it will still cure the infection and stop future damage to your body. The damage that late stage syphilis has already caused can’t be changed or healed.  The complications from late stage syphilis can happen 10-20 years after you first get infected.

  • What is Trichomoniasis (Trich)?

    Trich is the most common curable STD. Millions of people get trich every year. It’s caused by a tiny parasite (you can’t see it with the naked eye) that spreads during unprotected sex. When it does cause symptoms, the most common one is vaginitis.

    How do you get Trich?

    People get trich from having unprotected sexual contact with someone who has the infection. It’s also spread by sharing sex toys and touching your own or your partner’s genitals if you have infected fluids on your hand. Trich isn’t spread through casual contact, so you can’t get it from sharing food or drinks, kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or sitting on toilet seats.

    What are the symptoms of trich?

    About 7 out of 10 people with trich have no signs of the infection at all. When the infection is in a penis, it’s very unlikely to cause symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms of trich are so mild that you don’t even notice them, or you think it’s a different infection (like a yeast infection or a UTI).

    If you do get symptoms of trich, they usually show up from 3 days to a month after you get the infection.

    Trich can cause symptoms in people of any gender. But trich is most likely to cause vaginitis. Symptoms of vaginitis caused by trich include:
    -Green, yellow, gray, frothy, and/or bad-smelling vaginal discharge
    -Blood in your vaginal discharge
    -Itching and irritation in and around your vagina
    -Swelling around your genitals
    -Pain during sex

    Other symptoms of trich include pain and burning when you pee, the urge to pee a lot, discharge from your urethra, and itching and irritation inside your penis.

    Testing & Treatment

    Your doctor can test you for trich. Most of the time, it is easy to get rid of. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and you usually only have to take one dose of medicine.

free testing

Trillium Health provides free testing for HIV, STDs, and Hepatitis C. Our medical team will put together a personalized care plan for you and answer any questions. Your privacy is very important to us, and all services are confidential.

We offer FREE in-person and at-home testing. Call 585.545.7200 or click below to schedule an appointment.

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If you'd like to speak to someone in Spanish, Trillium has bilingual staff, as well as translation services available to all of its patients. We'll make sure that all of your questions are answered in a way that you understand. Call us at 585.545.7200.