STI Treatment

STDs are infections spread by sexual contact with skin, genitals, mouth, rectum, or body fluids. Although some STDs can be treated, others cannot. People with an STD may not know they have it. 1 According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the United States, 1 out of 4 women between the ages of 14 and 19 is infected with at least one STD.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) pose a serious risk to future reproductive and overall health, especially if left untreated. People who have an STD are at least 2 to 5 times more likely to contract HIV, the virus which leads to AIDS. 2

More than 1 in 3 female teens who have had sex have an STD. 3 As your number of partners and sexual encounters increases, your risk of contracting an STD increases dramatically.

What is Your STD Risk?

Most STD’s go undiagnosed because symptoms are not recognized or are very mild. An infected individual can share an STD with their partner before ever realizing they have one. Because they are often asymptomatic, it’s important to be tested. Women’s Choice Network provides STD testing and treatment.



  1. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2011). “How to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.” FAQ009.
  2. Wasserheit JN (1992). Epidemiological synergy: Interrelationships between human immunodeficiency virus infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. Sex Transm Dis, 19(6): 61-77.
  3. Forhan SE, Gottlieb SL, Sternberg MR, Xu F, Datta SD, McQuillan GM, et al. (2009). “Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among female adolescents aged 14 to 19 in the United States.” Pediatrics, 124(6): 1505-12.

Common STDs:


Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, which can damage a woman’s reproductive organs.

Chlamydia is the most prevelant STD.  Use of hormonal contraceptives increases your risk of contracting Chlamydia. 75% of women who are infected with Chlamydia do not know they have it, because they have NO SYMPTOMS.

Symptoms of Chlamydia in women include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Burning sensation with urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Low back pain
  • Painful intercourse

Symptoms of Chlamydia in men include:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning sensation with urination
  • Burning and itching around the opening of the penis

Symptoms can take 1-3 weeks to appear after exposure


  • Increases a woman’s susceptibility to HIV.

If left untreated: Can develop into a “silent” infection, impacting a woman’s future ability to have children.


Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract in women and men.

Many women and men have NO SYMPTOMS of Gonorrhea. Symptoms can take up to 30 days to appear.

Symptoms of Gonorrhea in women include:

  • Painful or burning sensation when urinating
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods

Symptoms of Gonorrhea in men include:

  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • White, yellow, or green discharge


  • Increases a woman’s susceptibility to HIV. Can be transmitted to infants during birth, causing blindness, joint and blood infections.

If left untreated: Can develop into PID and infertility in both men and women.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

BV often appears as an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor, pain, itching or burning.


  • Increases a woman’s susceptibility to other STDs.

If left untreated: Can develop into PID, resulting in damage to the fallopian tubes and infertility.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, or jaundice.


  • Can cause jaundice; is easily spread through fecal-oral contact.

If left untreated: Hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver cancer.

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes can include small red bumps or tiny white blisters that become ulcers and can be found on the genitals, buttocks, anus or thighs; sometimes flu-like symptoms.


  • Causes recurrent, painful sores and can be transmitted to infants during birth.

If left untreated: Can increase a woman’s chances of contracting HIV.


HIV/AIDS symptoms can include fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat, rash, swollen lymph glands, diarrhea, dry cough, or sudden weight loss.


  • Can be symptomless for 10 years or more, but still transmitted to sexual partners or infant during childbirth.

If left untreated: Can progress into AIDS and death.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is a very common STD and can include genital warts, sometimes in the mouth or throat, genital itching or discomfort, bleeding with intercourse.


  • Can be spread through contact with the infected area regardless of whether symptoms are present.

If left untreated: Causes genital warts, cervical and vaginal cancers, and rarely, penile and anal cancers.


Syphilis can often appear as one or more painless, open sores called chancres.


  • Can be spread when sores are present anywhere on the body, including the anus and mouth; sores can last 3-6 weeks and leave scars.

If left untreated: Can damage internal organs, resulting in paralysis, blindness, dementia and even death.


Symptoms of Trichomoniasis in Women include:

  • Discomfort during intercourse and urination
  • Greenish yellow, possibly frothy discharge
  • Strong odor
  • Irritation and itching

Symptoms of trichomoniasis in men include:

  • Discomfort during intercourse and urination
  • Irritation inside the penis
  • Mild discharge
  • Slight burning after urination or ejaculation


  • Can increase the probability of acquiring HIV.

If left untreated: Can result in premature or low birth-weight babies.

Preventing STDs

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “A reliable way to avoid transmission of STDs is to abstain from oral, vaginal, and anal sex or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.” 1

In other words, the only way to be sure you won’t get an STD is to not have sex, or to only have sex with one sexually healthy person who will only have sex with you.

But what about condoms?

Condoms cannot protect you against certain types of diseases, such as herpes, syphilis and HPV. Condom use can provide some protection from other STDs, but this protection still fails 21-40% of the time. 2 See Birth Control and STDs for more.

Additionally, a phenomenon know as “risk compensation behavior” typically applies as the availability of contraceptive methods such as condoms increases. This basically means that people who feel ‘safer’ by using a condom participate in riskier sexual behavior than those who do not use condoms.  For example, analysis indicates that increasing access to condoms increases teen pregnancy rates in the long run, while reducing access to condoms reduces teen pregnancy rates.3


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). “Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010.” MMWR 59(RR-12):2-8.
  2. Sanghvi H (1996). “Contraception and STDs.” In: JHPIEGO. “Issues in Management of STDs in Family Planning Settings.” STDs Workshop Proceedings; Apr 19-21, 1995; Baltimore, MD.
  3. Arcidiacono P, Khwaja A, Ouyang L (2012). Habit persistence and teen sex: Could increased access to contraception have unintended consequences for teen pregnancies? J Bus Econ Stat, 30(2): 312-25.