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Sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics: Services and common STI questions

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics

Services and common STI questions

What is a sexually transmitted infection?

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 of the most common infections in the world, and the rates of some STIs in Alberta are going up. Anyone can get an STI, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or age.

Some common 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, rectum, or other body parts
  • 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. The clinics have healthcare providers who specialize in STIs. Sometimes you can get your STI test results right away.

STI clinics may offer these services:

  • STI and HIV testing
  • STI treatment
  • HPV, 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

You don’t need a doctor to refer you to go to an STI clinic. The services are free and confidential. All sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions are welcome.

Find an STI clinic near you at or by calling Health Link at 811. Call your local STI clinic for appointment or walk-in times.

What can I expect at the clinic?

The healthcare provider at the STI clinic will ask you questions about your health and sexual history. They ask these questions to make sure that you get the care, tests, treatment, or support you need. All of your answers are confidential. You can also ask the healthcare provider any questions you have.

Depending on your health and sexual history, the healthcare provider at the STI clinic might offer to do an STI test. To do the test, you might need to give a urine sample (you can usually do this at the clinic) or the healthcare provider may need to swab your throat, anus, or genitals. The healthcare provider may also offer to do a blood test or physical exam.

The healthcare providers at the STI clinic can also give you medicines or a prescription for medicines.

Common questions about STIs

If I’m healthy, am I less likely to get an STI?
You can get an STI anytime you have any type of sexual contant (like anal, oral, and vaginal 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 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, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about medicines that can prevent STIs, like HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Can I get an STI if I only have oral sex or anal sex?
Yes. 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?

You can have an STI without having any symptoms.? Many STIs don’t have symptoms, especially when the infection first starts.

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 sex
  • bleeding after sex
  • 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.
  • 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 or partners 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 or partners. This is only to make sure that everyone gets the testing and treatment they need. If you don’t want to tell your partner or partners 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 or call Health Link at 811.

More information

Sexually Transmitted Infections


To see this information online and learn more, visit

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: July 24, 2023

Author: Provincial STI Programs, Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.