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Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Clinics: Services and common STI questions

What is an STI?

An STI is an infection you can get when you have genital, oral, or anal sexual contact with someone who is infected. STIs are some the most common infections in the world, and the rates of some STIs in Alberta are going up. Anyone—of any gender, sexual orientation, and age—can get an STI. Some examples of STIs are:

Most STIs are easy to treat. But if an STI is not treated, it can lead to health issues like:

  • infections in sex organs such as the testicles, prostate, uterus, or fallopian tubes, or other body parts such as the anus
  • problems getting pregnant or getting your partner pregnant (infertility)
  • problems having a healthy pregnancy (such as an ectopic pregnancy)

What is an STI clinic?

You can go to an STI clinic if you think you have an STI or have questions about STIs. The clinics have nurses and doctors who specialize in STIs. The clinics have labs, so sometimes you can get your STI test results right away.

The clinics offer these services:

  • STI and HIV testing
  • STI treatment
  • HPV and hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines
  • care for people after a sexual assault
  • counselling and teaching
  • partner notification (telling your partners they need to be tested)
  • referrals to other health services

What can I expect at the clinic?

STI clinic services are for anyone who is 14 years old or older—all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

You don’t need a doctor to refer you to attend an STI Clinic. The services are free and confidential. Call your local STI Clinic for appointment or walk-in times.

The nurse will ask you questions about your health and sexual history. They ask everyone these questions to make sure people get the best care possible. You don’t have to answer anything that makes you uncomfortable. You can also ask the nurse any questions you have.

Common questions about STIs

If I’m healthy, am I less likely to get an STI?
You can get an STI anytime you have unprotected (no condom) sex or genital contact, even if you’re very healthy. You can also get some STIs from nonsexual contact, like sharing needles or from parent to baby during pregnancy or when the baby is born.

How can I prevent an STI?

  • Use male and female condoms and dental dams during vaginal, oral, and anal sex to protect yourself from STIs. Do not share needles, straws, bills, or other tools for piercings, tattoos, or using drugs.
  • If you are or think you are pregnant, see a healthcare provider. They can help stop an infection from passing to your baby.
  • Get vaccinated. There are vaccines that can protect you against HPV (human papillomavirus), hepatitis A, and hepatitis B.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about medicines that can prevent STIs. For example, HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Can I get an STI if I only have oral sex or anal sex?
You can get an STI from oral sex and anal sex. But because testing your blood or urine might not find an infection in your throat or rectum (the inside of your anus), you may need to get a swab from these areas to find the STI.

What are the symptoms of an STI?
Most people with an STI have no symptoms at all. When there are symptoms, they may include:

  • changes in the fluid (discharge) that comes from your vagina
  • fluid leaking from your penis or anus
  • burning, pain, or discomfort when you pee
  • sores on or near your genitals or anus
  • itching in the genital or anal area
  • pain in your belly (abdomen)
  • pain during intercourse
  • bleeding after sex in people with a uterus
  • pain or swelling in your testicles

How often should I get tested for STIs?
It’s important to get tested whenever:

  • You have symptoms of an STI.
  • You’ve had sexual contact with someone who has an STI.
  • You have a new partner or your partner has other sexual partners.

If you have more than one partner or anonymous partners, it’s best to get tested every 3 to 6 months. Talk to a healthcare provider to help you decide how often you should get tested.

Will I have to tell my partner if I have an STI?
Depending on the STI, your partner(s) may need to be tested or treated so that you don’t get infected again.

With some STIs in Alberta, your healthcare provider must ask you for contact information for your partner(s). This is only to make sure that everyone gets the testing and treatment they need. If you don’t want to tell your partner(s) you have an infection, a nurse will do this for you, without saying who you are.

To find an STI clinic near you, go to www.ahs.ca/srh or call Health Link at 811.

More information

Sexually Transmitted Infections https://myhealth.alberta.ca/sexual-reproductive-health/sexually-transmitted-infections.


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Current as of: May 4, 2020

Author: Sexual and Reproductive Health Services, AHS