Did you know? Nearly half of the 20 million STDs reported every year occur in teenagers and young adults ages 15-24. Many who are infected with an STD don't know about it. The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested. Stay informed. Stay educated. Stay safe. Learn how to identify STDs and how to get tested and treated for one.
STD stands for "Sexually Transmitted Disease." These are either bacteria, viruses, or parasites that can be transmitted through bodily fluids. This most often occurs during sexual intercourse (oral, anal, and/or vaginal), but can also happen due to sharing needles, or by passing along from mother-to-baby.
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- HPV & Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus)
- Pubic Lice
There are often no signs or symptoms of an STD. Most often, people may have an STD and not even know they are infected. This can risk spreading the STD to partners.
The only way to know 100% if you have an STD is to GET TESTED.
Sometimes, symptoms might include:
- Bumps, sores, blisters
- Abdominal pain
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Discharge (greenish/yellowish)
- Spotting between periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Burning, itching, irritation surrounding infected area
STDs are spread most often through sex. By sex we mean any vaginal, oral (mouth to genitals), or anal (genitals to anus/butt) sex. Any unprotected sexual contact can put you at risk for an STD.
Bodily fluids spread the bacteria and viruses. This includes:
- Vaginal Fluids
Sometimes breast milk can pass HIV from a mother to her baby.
Tattoos and body piercings from unclean needles can spread some viral STDs, such as HIV or Hepatitis.
During sex, condoms or other barrier methods (internal "female" condoms or dental dams) can help protect against STDs. However, some areas of skin remain uncovered and can risk transmitting bacteria or viruses that produce sores. This includes herpes, genital warts, and syphilis.
Reducing risk behaviors can help protect against STDs! This includes:
- Reducing the number of sexual partners
- Having one sexual partner at a time
- Always using a condom with every type of sex, from start to finish
- Avoiding drugs or alcohol when having sex (this can impair your judgment and make it more challenging to be safer about sex)
- Getting tested with every new sex partner
- Talking to your partner about getting tested together
More and more young people are meeting their sexual partners through social media. This may include such sites as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Also, phone apps such as Tinder, Grindr, and PlentyOfFish have become a popular way of meeting both serious and casual partners.
Before "swiping right" and meeting up, make sure that you take precautions to stay safe. Here are some tips for when you meet:
- ALWAYS carry a condom, just in case (both men and women should!).
- Meet in an open and neutral location with plenty of people around, such as at a restaurant or coffee shop.
- Establish your expectations for the date.
- NO MEANS NO - you have the right to say "no" to any unwanted sexual advances.
- You can give consent to any sexual act, but "yes" does not have to mean yes to everything!
- Consent can be given or removed at any time!
Sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity. Before being sexual with someone, you need to know if they want to be sexual with you too. It’s also important to be honest with your partner about what you want and don’t want.
Consenting and asking for consent are all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner — and checking in if things aren’t clear. Both people must agree to sex — every single time — for it to be consensual.
Without consent, sexual activity (including oral sex, genital touching, and vaginal or anal penetration) is sexual assault or rape.
For more details on consent, click here.
Anyone who is 12 years of age or older in Michigan can get tested without parental consent. This means that your parents do not need to be present or give permission for you to get tested. Testing AND treatment are included in this law.
For more specific information, see the Michigan laws related to minor consent for care summarized here.