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Exposure to Sexually Transmitted Infections (cont.)

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your health professional diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.

Before your appointment

  • Do not have sexual contact or activity while waiting for your appointment. This will reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to your partner. If you do have an STI, your sex partner or partners must also be treated as soon as possible.
  • Women should not douche. Douching changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. Douching may flush an STI up into your uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is usually caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia. Symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen and fever. PID may cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, a pelvic abscess, or chronic pelvic pain.

Questions to prepare for your health professional

  • If you have new STI symptoms:
    • What was the date of your suspected exposure to an STI?
    • Which STI do you think you were exposed to?
    • How do you know?
    • Did your partner tell you?
    • What were your partner's symptoms?
    • Was your partner treated? If so, when? Was your partner checked after completing treatment?
  • If you are a woman, what was the date of your last menstrual period?
  • What are your symptoms? If you have discharge from the vagina or penis, it is important to note any smell or color.
  • What method of birth control do you use?
  • Which high-risk sexual behaviors do you or your partner engage in?
  • If this is a repeat visit for exposure to STIs:
    • Which STI have you had in the past?
    • How was it treated?
    • Did you complete the treatment?
    • Did you get rechecked?
    • Was your partner treated and rechecked?
    • What has changed since your last visit?
  • Have you had sexual contact with a sex worker? If so, when? Was a condom used?
  • Have you had sexual contact or activity with an immigrant or while traveling in another country with a native person there?
  • Do you have any health risks?

What you need to know by the end of the visit

  • Is a test, such as a culture, being performed? How and when will you get the results of the test?
  • Is there a diagnosis or do you need to wait for a test result? What does your health professional suspect?
  • What treatment is your health professional prescribing? Be sure to get a written copy of treatment instructions and follow those instructions. Take all medicines exactly as instructed and for the full course of treatment. Do not stop taking your medicine even if your symptoms improve or go away.
  • If you have an STI, who needs to be notified—your partner or partners, the health department?
  • Does your partner or partners need to be treated at the same time?
  • Do you need to stop having sexual contact or activity (abstain) during treatment, or are condoms appropriate to use during treatment?
  • Will you need to be seen or treated again?
  • Discuss STI prevention options.
  • For women who are breast-feeding, discuss the risk of medicines being transmitted in breast milk.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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