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For Teens: Get the Facts About STIs

Portrait of teen girl.

Q. Would I know it if I had an STI?

A. Maybe not. Many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have signs that are hard to notice. And you can catch an STI and not even know it! You may hear an STI also called an STD (sexually transmitted disease). If you are concerned about an STI, talk with an adult you trust or your healthcare provider, school nurse, campus clinic, or local health department. It's important to be tested and to get the right treatment if needed.

Q. Do birth control pills prevent STIs?

A. No. Taking the pill doesn’t protect against STIs. Even if you take the pill, you should still use latex condoms.

Q. Is it safe if I only have oral sex?

A. No. Almost every kind of STI can be spread through oral sex.

Q. Do STIs ever go away on their own?

A. No. Even if your symptoms go away, STIs stay in the body. You need to be treated by a healthcare provider. Don’t try to treat yourself!

Q. Can you catch an STI if you’ve already had it before?

A. Yes. Even if you get treated, you can catch some STIs over and over. This is especially true if your sex partner doesn’t get treated. He or she can pass the disease back to you.

Q. Isn’t HIV/AIDS the only STI I really need to worry about?

A. No. Many STIs besides HIV can cause serious health problems—including death.

Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2020
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