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Diseases and conditions
Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)

Sexually transmitted diseases can affect males and females of all ages, sexual orientation and backgrounds. Protect yourself by learning the facts about STDs, how they are spread, symptoms, treatment and how to reduce your risk of getting one.

- General facts about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Chlamydia (PDF)
- Gonorrhea (PDF)
- Genital Herpes (PDF)
- Hepatitis (PDF)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) (PDF)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) (PDF)
- Syphilis (PDF)
- Other sexually-related infections and conditions (PDF)

General facts about STDs

Where can I get tested for STDs in Clark County?
Most health care providers provide testing and care. If you do not have a provider or insurance that covers testing and treatment, call (360) 397-8182 for community resources that provide testing. Clark County Public Health no longer offers testing for STDs, except HIV.

How do STDs spread?
STDs are spread from person to person through anal, oral, or vaginal intercourse. Some, like herpes or genital warts, are spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected area or sore. Other STDs such as HIV and Hepatitis B can also be transmitted by sharing drug injection equipment.

STDs spread easily because it’s difficult to tell when someone has an infection. In fact, you may not know you have an STD which makes it easy to pass on an infection to a sex partner.

Activities that increase your chance of getting an STD

  • Sexual activity at a young age - The younger you are when you start having sex, the greater your chance of getting an STD.
  • Multiple sex partners - If you have sexual contact — not just intercourse, but any form of sexual activity — with different partners you are more at risk than those who stay with the same partner.
  • Unprotected sex - Latex condoms are the only form of birth control that also reduces risk of getting an STD.

Most people who have an STD have no symptoms. A test from your doctor or health clinic may be the only way to know for sure if you're infected. If you do become infected, symptoms may show up right away, or they may not show up for weeks, months or even years.

  • Women
    • Sores, bumps or blisters near your genitals, anus or mouth.
    • Burning or pain when you urinate.
    • Itching, bad smell or unusual discharge from your vagina or anus.
    • Pain in abdomen or lower stomach.
    • Bleeding from your vagina between your periods.
  • Men
    • Sores, bumps or blisters near your genitals, anus or mouth.
    • Burning or pain when you urinate.
    • Drip or discharge from your penis.
    • Itching, pain or discharge from your anus.

Not all genital infections are caused by STDs. You can have symptoms similar to those of STDs, even if you’ve never had sex. For women, a yeast infection can easily be confused with an STD. Men may worry about bumps on the penis that turn out to be pimples or irritated hair follicles. That's why it's important to see a health care provider if you ever have questions about your sexual health.

It's much easier to prevent STDs than to treat them. The only way to completely prevent STDs is by not having any type of sexual contact. If you have sex, the best way to reduce the chance of getting an STD is by using a condom. Another way to lessen your risk is to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.

Visiting your doctor for a medical exam is another opportunity to reduce your risk getting an STD. During your exam, your doctor can discuss STDs and how to protect yourself and test for STDs if you are already sexually active. Make sure you tell your doctor if you are thinking about having sex or if are currently sexually active. This includes all types of sex — oral, vaginal, and anal.

Don't let embarrassment stop you from going to a clinic. Waiting may just let a disease get worse and cause more damage. If you think you may have an STD, or if you have had a partner who may have an STD, you should go to a clinic as soon as you can. If you don't have a health care provider or prefer not to see your provider for this service you may be able to find a local clinic in your area where you can get an exam confidentially.

Most STDs are curable by taking medicine. Other STDs are treatable, to make the symptoms go away or easier to live with. Even when someone takes a medication to cure an STD they are able to get it again, and even though someone is being treated they can pass it on.

If untreated, some STDs can cause permanent damage, such as infertility (not able to get pregnant), lifetime health effects, cervical cancer and even death.



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