Preventing and Treating STDs
As with many other diseases, prevention is key. It's much easier to prevent STDs than to treat them. The only way to completely prevent STDs is to abstain from all types of sexual contact. If someone is going to have sex, the best way to reduce the chance of getting an STD is by using a condom.
People who are considering having sex should get regular gynecological or male genital examinations. These exams offer doctors an opportunity to teach people about STDs and protecting themselves. Plus, regular exams give doctors more opportunities to check for STDs while they're still in their earliest, most treatable stage.
It is important to be upfront with your doctor about your sexual history or your anticipated sexual history in order for these visits to be helpful.
Don't let embarrassment at the thought of having an STD keep you from seeking medical attention. Waiting to see a doctor may allow a disease to progress and cause more damage. If you think you may have an STD, or if you have had a partner who may have an STD, you should see a doctor right away.
If you don't have a doctor or prefer not to see your family doctor, you may be able to find a local clinic in your area where you can get an exam confidentially. There are national and local organizations that operate STD hotlines staffed by trained specialists who can answer your questions and provide referrals. Calls to these hotlines are confidential. One hotline you can call for information is the National STD Hotline at 1-800-227-8922. You may also contact the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention office or the Teen Clinic.
Not all infections in the genitals are caused by STDs. Sometimes people can get symptoms that seem very like those of STDs, even though they've never had sex. For girls, a yeast infection can easily be confused with an STD. Guys may worry about bumps on the penis that turn out to be pimples or irritated hair follicles. That's why it's important to see a doctor if you ever have questions about your sexual health.