Sexually Transmitted Infections
For a graph / chart of common STIs, please click here.
This page is designed to provide basic information on the most common sexually transmitted infections. It does not attempt to list all known sexually transmitted infections.
Sexually transmitted infections include a variety of disorders which are passed from one individual to another through intimate or direct sexual contact. Symptoms of these infections tend to appear in the genital area. The genitals include the labia and vagina, penis and scrotum, or the anal region. Persons who engage in oral sex may also develop symptoms in the mouth and throat. Other areas that may be affected include the skin of the groin and the eyes.
Familiarity with your reproductive organs is the first step in good health care. It is important to know how your body feels, functions, looks and smells when you are in good health. This knowledge will help you to determine when you need to seek assistance from a health care professional.
Remember any unusual discharge, lump, pain or discomfort in the breasts, vagina, penis or testes should be evaluated by a health care provider. These services are available at the IU Health Center. For an appointment, call 855-7688.
If you would like information on this topic or general information on other health topics or problems, call Health and Wellness Education at 855-7338.
No sexual contact is the only guaranteed way of preventing sexually transmitted infections. For individuals who are sexually active, the following recommendations may help reduce risk.
- Mutual Monogamy: Two people who only have sexual contact with each other. Limiting the number of lifetime sexual partners decreases your risk of infection.
- Condoms: A latex sheath placed over the erect penis or a polyurethane female condom worn internally by a woman act as barriers to the transmission of body fluids from one person to another. Latex barriers, including dental dams, plastic wrap and non-lubricated condoms cut open, may provide some protection when performing oral sex on a woman.
- Vaccinations: All women and men (ages 9-26) should consider vaccination against HPV (Gardasil). Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination.
- Genital Inspection: Examination of your and your partner’s genital area for any noticeable changes in texture, lumps, color, odor or discharge is important. If you notice a change, refrain from sexual activity until the affected person can be evaluated by a trained health care provider.
- Treatment: When drugs have been prescribed to treat a specific infection, the entire prescription should be taken even if symptoms disappear after part of the prescription is used. You should also refrain from sexual contact until advised by your provider.
- Partner Evaluation and Treatment: Inform all partners that you have been treated for a specific problem and that they should seek appropriate medical care. If partners are local, and have no health provider, they can be treated at the IU Health Center even if they are not students.
- Communication: The ability to talk openly about sexuality will lead to safer, less stressful sexual activity.
- Spermicides: These may increase the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection by causing vaginal irritation.
These tips for reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections apply to all sexually active individuals regardless of sexual orientation.