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Exposure to Sexually Transmitted Infections (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Home treatment is never an appropriate treatment for a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Evaluation by a health professional is needed for:

  • Any changes or symptoms in the genital area that suggest an STI.
  • A known or suspected exposure to an STI.

If you think you may have symptoms of an STI:

  • Do not have sexual contact or activity while waiting for your appointment. This will prevent the spread of the infection.
  • Women should not douche. Douching changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. Douching may flush an infection up into your uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Symptoms of STIs may not appear for many days, weeks, months, or, with HIV, even years after an exposure. After you have been exposed to an STI, you cannot reduce the risk you now have of getting an infection.

A regular habit of genital self-examination once a month will help you know what is normal for you and when you may have symptoms of an STI.

In addition to your health professional, there are other resources that can help you with information about STI evaluation and treatment. These resources include:

  • Local health departments that have STI clinics.
  • Family planning clinics, such as Planned Parenthood (1-800-230-PLAN or 1-800-230-7526 or www.plannedparenthood.org).
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention STI hotline (1-800-CDC-INFO or 1-800-232-4636 or TTY: 1-888-232-6348 or www.cdc.gov/std).

Treatment for pregnant women is monitored by their health professional to avoid complications. STIs in pregnant women may cause problems such as:

  • Miscarriage.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Premature delivery.
  • Infections in their newborn baby, such as pneumonia, eye infections, or nervous system problems. These infections may threaten the life of your baby or cause serious long-term problems or disabilities.

It is important for you and an infected partner to complete all medical treatment for an STI to prevent the infection from returning. You may need to be rechecked after treatment is complete.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if symptoms persist or become more severe or frequent.

Note:

If you think you may have symptoms of an STI:

  • Do not have sexual contact or activity while waiting for your appointment. This will prevent the spread of the infection.
  • Women should not douche. Douching changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. Douching may flush an infection up into your uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Home test kits for some STIs are available but it is recommended that you consult your health professional about any STI symptoms.

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