There’s a whole host of conditions referred to as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). These are differentiated from other types of sexual infections by the manner through which you contract them, that is, sex. This isn’t the best way of identifying them. Because so many of us have encountered negative cultural messages about sex throughout our lives, we sometimes associate sexual acts with a bunch of negative adjectives, like “dirty,” “shameful,” or “reckless.” For this reason, many people are more ashamed to contract an STI like chlamydia than a non-sexually transmitted infection like, say, bacterial vaginosis, even though the symptoms and treatments of these two infections are virtually identical. This kind of shame can prevent people from seeking treatment early on, and delayed treatment has the potential to cause lasting damage to your sexual health.

If you think you might have an STI, don’t fear! Many are curable, and even in non-curable cases, there are still plenty of treatment options out there to help you lead a healthy, happy sexual life. The most important thing you can do is seek treatment early and be honest with any sexual partners you’ve had who might have also come in contact with the infection. If you are diagnosed with an STI, remember: you are not dirty, you are not shameful, and you are always worthy of love.

This section is currently being updated.  If you need immediate access to information about STIs, check out Planned Parenthood’s site, or any other reliable sexual health resource.  A note about terminology: Planned Parenthood uses the term Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) instead of Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).  STD this is just an older name for STI, but it means the same thing.