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Exposure to Sexually Transmitted Infections in Teens: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are those diseases spread by sexual contact. There are at least 20 different STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Bacteria-caused STIs can be treated and cured. STIs caused by viruses, such as HIV, 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?

  • Take medicines exactly as prescribed.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Tell your sex partner (or partners) that they will need treatment.
  • If you are a woman, do not douche. Douching changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. It may also spread an infection up into your reproductive organs.

How can you prevent it?

It's easier to prevent an STI than it is to treat one.

  • Limit your sex partners. The safest sex is with one partner who has sex only with you.
  • Talk with your partner or partners about STIs before having sex. Find out if they are at risk for an STI. It's possible to have an STI and not know it.
  • Wait to have sex with a new partner until you've each been tested.
  • Don't have sex if you have symptoms of an infection or if you're being treated for an STI.
  • Use a condom (a male or female condom) every time you have sex.
  • Don't feel pressure to have sex. It's okay to say "no" anytime you want to stop.
  • Make sure you feel safe with your partner or partners. If you don't, talk with an adult you trust.

Vaccines are available for some STIs, such as HPV. Ask your doctor for more information.

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 https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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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.