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What causes a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner
You can get an STI by having intimate sexual contact with someone who already has the infection. You can't tell if a person is infected because many STIs have no symptoms. But STIs can still be passed from person to person even if there are no symptoms. STIs are spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex or during genital touching. So it's possible to get some STIs without having intercourse. Not all STIs are spread the same way.

This answer is based on source information from National Women's Health Information Center.
Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Sexual activity with an infected partner causes sexually transmitted diseases. STD's are viruses, bacteria or parasites that may be transmitted by oral, anal, vaginal or physical contact. STD's may be life threatening diseases that are incurable or infections that are treatable and curable. It is impossible to know if a potential partner is infected or not by appearances- many diseases do not have obvious signs and the person may not even know they are infected. STD's do not respect gender, age or status-kings, the elderly and children may become victims. Safe sex practices include using a condom at every sexual encounter which may decrease disease transmission.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.