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Exposure to Sexually Transmitted Infections in Teens: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are those infections spread by sexual contact. There are at least 20 different STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Bacterial-caused STIs can be treated and cured. STIs caused by viruses can be treated but not cured. Some STIs can reduce a woman's chances of getting pregnant in the future.

STIs are spread during sexual contact, such as vaginal intercourse and oral or anal sex.

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 call line 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?

  • Your doctor may have given you a shot of antibiotics. If your doctor prescribed antibiotic pills, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Do not have sexual contact while you have symptoms of an STI or are being treated for an STI.
  • Tell your sex partner (or partners) that he or she will need treatment.
  • If you are a woman, do not douche. Douching changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and may flush an infection up into your reproductive organs.

To prevent exposure to STIs in the future

  • Use latex condoms every time you have sex. Use them from the beginning to the end of sexual contact.
  • Talk to your partner before you have sex. Find out if he or she has or is at risk for any STI. Keep in mind that a person may be able to spread an STI even if he or she does not have symptoms.
  • Do not have sex if you are being treated for an STI.
  • Do not have sex with anyone who has symptoms of an STI, such as sores on the genitals or mouth.
  • You should never feel pressured to have sex. It's okay to say "no" anytime you want to stop.
  • It's important to feel safe with your sex partner and with the activities you are doing together. If you don't feel safe, talk with an adult you trust.
  • Having one sex partner (who does not have STIs and does not have sex with anyone else) is a good way to avoid STIs.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis.

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

  • You have new belly or pelvic pain.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have new or increased burning or pain with urination, or you cannot urinate.
  • You have pain, swelling, or tenderness in the scrotum.
  • You are pregnant and have any symptoms of an STI.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call 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 in the genital or anal area.
  • You have itching, tingling, pain, or burning in the genital or anal area.
  • You think you may have been exposed to an STI.
  • You have a sore throat or sores in your mouth or on your tongue.

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.