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Exposure to Sexually Transmitted Infections: Care Instructions


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases spread by sexual contact. This includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex. If you're pregnant, you can also spread them to your baby before or during the birth.

There are at least 20 different STIs. They include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). (This is the virus that causes AIDS.) Some STIs can reduce the chance of getting pregnant in the future.

Treatment can cure STIs caused by bacteria. STIs caused by viruses, such as HIV, can be treated, but they can't be cured.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take medicines exactly as prescribed.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Don't stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Tell your sex partner(s) that they will need treatment.
  • Don't douche. Douching changes the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina. It may increase the risk of spreading the infection to your uterus or other reproductive organs.

How can you prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

You can help prevent STIs if you wait to have sex with a new partner (or partners) until you've each been tested for STIs. It also helps if you use condoms (male or female condoms) and if you limit your sex partners to one person who only has sex with you.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new pain in your belly or pelvis.
  • You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
    • Pain or burning when you urinate.
    • A frequent need to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
    • Pain in the flank, which is just below the rib cage and above the waist on either side of the back.
    • Blood in your urine.
    • A fever.
  • You have new or worsening pain or swelling in the scrotum.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have unusual vaginal bleeding.
  • You have a discharge from the vagina or penis.
  • You have any new symptoms, such as sores, bumps, rashes, blisters, or warts.
  • You have itching, tingling, pain, or burning in the genital or anal area.
  • You think you may have an STI.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.