Frequently Asked Questions

How common are STIs?
Half of sexually active people will contract an STI by age 25.

I have an STI. Did my partner cheat on me?
Not necessarily. Many STIs can stay hidden with no symptoms for years. So, while your partner may have given it to you, he or she may have had it before they were with you. The most important thing is for both of you to get tested and treated at the same time so you don't reinfect each other.

Can I get an STI from oral sex?
Yes. A common misconception is that you cannot get an STI from giving or receiving oral sex. This is not true. Gonorrhea and herpes are commonly transmitted through oral sex.

Can I get an STI if I'm a virgin?
It depends on how you define being a virgin. STIs can be transmitted through oral and anal sex, but many people believe that if they haven't had vaginal intercourse they are still a virgin. Some STIs can be transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact even without intercourse.

Can I get an STI even though my partner has no symptoms?
Yes, many people who are infected have no symptoms but are still very contagious.

Are cold sores really herpes?
Yes, cold sores on your mouth are a symptom of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and can be transmitted to the genitals as well as the mouth.

Can I get an STI from kissing?
It is possible to get herpes through kissing, but with most STIs, the chances are pretty slim.

Can I get an STI more than once?
Yes. You can get bacterial infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis more than once, even if you've been treated before. That's why it's so important to make sure you and your partners are tested and treated.

Does having an STI put me more at risk for getting HIV?
Yes. This is because the same behaviors and circumstances that may put you at risk for getting an STI can also put you at greater risk for getting HIV. In addition, having a sore or break in the skin from an STI may allow HIV to more easily enter your body.

Can I get an STI from a public toilet?
It's very unlikely. There is no evidence STIs can be transmitted by contact with public toilets.

Can I be tested for an STI while I'm on my period?
Yes. You can be tested for STIs during menstruation.

Can I get an STI sitting in a hot tub?
No. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a person who is infected. Herpes (oral and genital) are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. So you cannot catch an STD from simply sitting in a hot tub.

I recently had unprotected sex. When should I be tested for an STI?
The timing for when to get STI tested varies depending on the sexually transmitted infection because the incubation time in everyone's system varies. And infections take a varying amount of time to multiply enough to show up in a lab test. Consult your provider about which test may be recommended for you and when.