Sexually Transmitted Infections
For a graph / chart of common STIs, please click here.
Sexually transmitted infections include a variety of disorders which are passed from one person to another through intimate or direct sexual contact. Symptoms of these infections can appear in the genital area. The genitals include the labia and vagina, penis and scrotum, or the anal region. Persons who engage in oral sex may also develop symptoms in the mouth and throat. Other areas that may be affected include the skin of the groin and the eyes.
It is important to know how your body feels, functions, looks and smells when you are in good health. This knowledge will help you to determine when you need to seek assistance from a health care professional. Avoid web searching which can cause you more anxiety and give you misleading information. Any unusual discharge, lump, pain or discomfort in the breasts, vagina, rectum, penis or testes should be evaluated by a health care provider. These services are available at the IU Health Center. Get an appointment online or call (812) 855-7688.
If you would like information on this topic or general information on other health topics or problems, call Health and Wellness Education at (812) 855-7338.
Avoiding sexual contact is the only guaranteed way of preventing sexually transmitted infections. For individuals who are sexually active, the following tips may help reduce risk. These tips for reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections apply to all sexually active individuals regardless of sexual orientation.
- Mutual Monogamy: Two people who only have sexual contact with each other. Limiting the number of lifetime sexual partners decreases your risk of infection.
- Condoms: A latex sheath placed over the erect penis or a polyurethane female condom worn internally by a woman act as barriers to the transmission of body fluids from one person to another. Latex barriers, including dental dams, plastic wrap and non-lubricated condoms cut open, may provide some protection when performing oral sex on a woman.
- Avoid Alcohol and Recreational Drug Use: Avoiding sex if you are under the influence will help you make better decisions. Drunk or “mistake sex” also affects you and your partner’s ability to give consent.
- Vaccinations: All women and men (ages 9-26) should consider vaccination against HPV (Gardasil or Gardasil9). Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination.
- Genital Inspection/Get tested: Check your and your partner’s genital areas for any noticeable changes in texture, lumps, color, odor or discharge. If you notice a change, don’t have sexual activity until the affected person can be evaluated by a health care provider. The only way to really know if you or your partner is infected is to be tested.
- Treatment: When drugs have been prescribed to treat a specific infection, take all of them until they are all gone, even if symptoms disappear after part of the prescription is used. You should also refrain from sexual contact until advised by your provider, usually 7 days after all partners have finished their drug treatment.
- Partner Evaluation and Treatment: Tell any and all partners that you have been treated for a specific problem and that they should seek appropriate medical care. If partners live nearby, and have no health provider, they can be treated at the IU Health Center even if they are not students.
- Communication: The ability to talk openly about sexuality will lead to safer, less stressful sexual activity.
- Spermicides: These may increase the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection by causing vaginal irritation.