Last week my boyfriend was driving me to work when all of a sudden I had bad stomach pains. It was terrible — it honestly felt as though my guts were being squeezed. He took me to the Emergency and I was told that I had PID, caused by chlamydia. I never thought this could’ve been caused by a sexually transmitted infection. I had no symptoms up until then and we’ve been together for almost six months. Besides, I had a Pap test done about a month ago and everything came back normal. My boyfriend says he doesn’t want to go to the doctor ‘cause he says the test really hurts for guys.
- At least once a year. Every 3 to 6 months if they have a new sexual partner, or if partners have other sexual partners.
- If a person is having symptoms or problems.
- If there was sex without a condom, or the condom broke.
- If there was sex with someone known to have an STI (Government of Alberta & Alberta Health Services, 2013).
Bacterial (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis).
Viral (e.g., HPV, genital herpes).
Parasite (e.g., public lice, scabies).
If detected early, bacterial and parasite STIs are generally easy to treat. Viral STIs can be treated, but are more difficult to cure. Some viral STIs are not curable at this time.
The table below provides an overview of transmission, symptoms, testing, treatment, and consequences of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Click on the name below to open the table which provides an overview of transmission, symptoms, testing, treatment, and consequences of syphilis.
Common viral STIs include human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital herpes.
The table below provides an overview of transmission, symptoms, testing, treatment, and consequences of HPV.
Click on the name below to see the table which provides an overview of transmission, symptoms, testing, treatment, and consequences of genital herpes.
Parasites are also known as ectoparasites and include pubic lice (crabs) and scabies.
The table below provides an overview of transmission, symptoms, testing, and treatment of pubic lice and scabies.
The table below provides an overview of transmission, symptoms, testing, treatment, and consequences of HIV.
Click on the name below to see the table which provides an overview of transmission, symptoms, testing, treatment, and consequences of Hepatitis B.
- Abstinence is the best way to prevent STIs and BBPs.
- Partners can engage in lower risk forms of sexual activity or sexual simulation such as mutual masturbation or sensual massage.
- If sexually active, the best way to prevent STIs and BBPs is to use condoms and/or dental dams for oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- Limit the number of sexual partners.
- Partners should have open and honest communication with each other.
- If either partner has symptoms, they should not have any sexual contact.
- Don’t share sex toys, clean between use, and cover with a new condom before each use.
- Get tested for STIs at least once a year and when symptoms are present.
- Consider getting tested every 3 to 6 months if there is a new sexual partner, or if partners have other sexual partners (Government of Alberta & Alberta Health Services, 2013).
Condoms reduce the risk of STIs and BBPs. It is recommended that people use a condom (male or female) every time they have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and genital to genital contact. Even though using condoms are important for reducing the risks of STIs and BBPs, not all youth use them because:
- They are embarrassed to get condoms.
- They are on a hormonal method of birth control.
- They may not have a condom at the time of sexual activity.
- Their partner may not want to use condoms.
- The use of substances such as alcohol or drugs may impact their ability to get or use them.
- They may think they are in a monogamous relationship.
- They may be in an abusive relationship.
- They may not know how to negotiate the use of condoms.
- Condoms may be too expensive.
A 2009/2010 Canadian study showed 80% of youth ages 15-17 used condoms during their last intercourse compared to 63% of youth ages 20-24 (Rotermann, 2012):
- Male and female condoms should not be used together as this may cause them to break or slip.
- Using two male condoms together (“double bagging”) may cause condoms to break.
- Air should be squeezed out of the tip of the male condom before putting it on.
- Oil based lubricants should not be used with male (latex) condoms (water based lubricants are fine).
- Male condoms made from latex or polyurethane are recommended. Condoms made from natural skin (lambskin) do not protect from STIs and BBPs.
For instructions on how to use a male condom, see SexGerms.com – Minimize your Risk
For a male condom demonstration, click here.
For instructions on how to use a female condom, see SexGerms.com – Minimize your Risk
For a female condom demonstration, click here.
- Set personal values and boundaries regarding condom use.
- Have a discussion about condom use before intimate activity begins…ideally long before it begins as one of the steps in getting to know each other and setting personal boundaries and limits.
- Be willing to start the conversation.
- Carry condoms to avoid the excuse “I don’t have a condom so we can’t use one.”
- Make sexual decisions when sober so that it is easier to consider and communicate values and limits.
- Be willing to walk away from the activity if a condom will not be used (as long as this does not put a youth in harm).
- Have comebacks or suggestions ready for the most common reasons why partners resist using condoms. Take a look at our conversation box below for example,
For more information on how to talk to sexual partners about sex, see:
- Use a non-latex condom that is still tested to lower the risk of STI or HIV infection (lambskin or animal membrane condoms do not provide protection against STI or HIV transmission or lower protection against pregnancy).
- Use a female condom.
- Try different brands of condoms (this can be used if the whole condom or just the ring feels too tight). Note: a loose fitting condom can result in a less secure fit and provide the potential for pregnancy and/or STI transmission.
- Use a non-latex condom (these retain body heat better than latex and may feel less restrictive).
- Use a female condom.
- Recognize this may prolong sexual activity in a positive way.
- Use a small drop of water or silicone based lubricant in the tip of the condom before applying it.
- Try an ultra-thin style of condom.
- HPV Gardasil vaccinations are routinely given to grade 5 boys and girls in Alberta. Gardasil protects against four common strains of HPV.
- Hepatitis B vaccinations are routinely given to grade 5 boys and girls in Alberta. The vaccine may be given during the first year of life, if parents were born in an endemic area or if they are carriers of the disease (Lokanc-Diluzio & Troute-Wood, 2016).
- HIV and hepatitis B can also be prevented by not sharing drug equipment (e.g., needles, pipes, etc.) or toothbrushes, razors or sex toys.
Alberta Health Services. (2011). E-SYS. Enhanced street youth surveillance Edmonton site results (1999-2010). Edmonton AB: Communicable Disease Control, Alberta Health Services.
Alberta Health Services, & ProvLab Alberta. (2012). Laboratory bulletin: Discontinuation of second trimester syphilis screening on pregnant women. Retrieved from http://www.provlab.ab.ca/partner_updates.htm
Government of Alberta, & Alberta Health Services. (2013). Getting tested & treated. Retrieved from http://sexgerms.com/getting-tested
Lokanc-Diluzio, W., & Troute-Wood, T. (2016). Sexually transmitted infections and blood borne pathogens. In L. L. Stamler, L. Yiu, & A. Dosani (Eds.) Community health nursing: A Canadian perspective (4th ed.). Toronto: Pearson Education.
Lokanc-Diluzio, W. (2014). A mixed methods study of service provider capacity development to protect and promote the sexual and reproductive health of street-involved youth:
An evaluation of two training approaches. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from http://hdl.handle.net/11023/1507
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). (2013). Human Immunodeficiency Virus: HIV screening and testing guide. Ottawa, ON: Author. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/aids-sida/guide/hivstg-vihgdd-eng.php
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). (2011). Report on sexually transmitted infections in Canada: 2009. Ottawa, ON: Author. Retrieved from http://www.catie.ca/sites/default/files/2009%20Report%20on%20STI%20in%20Canada_EN.pdf
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). (2015). Canadian guidelines on sexually transmitted infections. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/std-mts/sti-its/cgsti-ldcits/index-eng.php
Rotermann, M. (2012). Sexual behaviour and condom use of 15- to 24-year-olds in 2003 and 2009/2010. Health Reports, 23(1).