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How do people get an STD? During vaginal, anal or oral sex, STDs can be transmitted through the exchange of blood, semen and vaginal fluids, or through skin-to-skin contact.

How can I tell if I have an STD? Many people with an STD have no symptoms at all. If someone does have an STD sometimes they experience itching, discharge, rashes or sores on the genitals or burning when they urinate.

Can I tell if somebody else has an STD? No. You can't always tell. The only way to know for sure is by getting tested. Before deciding to sleep with someone, make sure you ask them if they've been tested.

I think I might have an STD. What do I do? The easiest way to find out if you have an infection is to get tested. It's a good idea to have regular sexual health check-ups every year once you start having sex. It's also a good idea to get tested when you change sexual partners. Women need to have a pap smear annually to screen for cell changes on the cervix and certain types of STDs. Most medical doctors offer sexual health checks, but you should ask for one. You can also go to your local health clinic or a Planned Parenthood center for more information on how to get tested.

What happens if I have an STD and just leave it alone? Will it go away? Most STDs can be quickly and effectively taken care of if treated. But if they go untreated, they can affect your reproductive organs, which can lead to infertility and other serious complications.



Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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