27 Common Questions About STIs, Answered By A Doctor

    Getting STIs should have no shame attached to it! So let's answer some common questions and spread the word.

    We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share any questions they may have had about STIs so that we could sit down with Dr. Jennifer Peña, Chief Medical Officer for Nurx, the largest digital practice for women’s health, to get some answers!

    An image of Dr Jennifer Pena

    1. “I have been diagnosed with HPV. The doctor said they will check again in a couple months to see if it has developed in stages. They mentioned it could lead to cervical cancer. Of course there is the slut-shaming aspect I am implementing on myself, but I am also immensely terrified. I feel like I deserve this for not making the right decisions. I don't quite know what to do. And the information is very unclear to me as well. What are my options and what might happen to me?” —Anonymous

    Block letters on a pink background spelling out "HPV"

    2. “How common are STIs?” —Anonymous

    3. “Is there a difference between genital warts and HPV?” —Anonymous

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    4. "So say you've been celibate by choice for 10 years; would you have noticed any STI symptoms by now if you had one? Are there some that just stay in your system without you feeling any changes at all?" —elisaday

    5. “Can STIs be transmitted through saliva? For example: oral sex?” —Anonymous

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    6. “If I have multiple sexual partners, how often should I be tested?” —Anonymous

    A stock image of a test for chlamydia

    7. “If I want to marry and have kids with someone but they have an STI from a previous relationship, do I have to resign myself to getting said STI too?" —Anonymous

    8. “My wife of 20 years was recently diagnosed with HPV. I know it's super common, and she says she must have gotten it before we were married, but is it really possible that she had it for two decades without either of us knowing it?” —Anonymous

    Squamous epithelial cells of human cervix under the microscope view. Pap smear test is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women - stock photo

    9. “How would a male know if he has HPV? And can a male be a carrier of yeast infections if a partner developed a new yeast infection after subsequent sexual relations with him?” —Anonymous

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    10. “Someone I know claims he got gonorrhea from being naked in a hot tub less than a week before they started displaying physical symptoms (discharge). Can that really happen?” —Anonymous

    A stock image of a man sitting shirtless in a hot tub

    11. “Is the only way to get tested for herpes is to have blood drawn?" —Anonymous

    A stock image of a vial of blood labeled "Herpes Test"

    12. “How do STIs transfer from two people with vaginas/female sex organs?” —Anonymous

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    13. “Is it shameful to have an STI? Will my medical practitioner judge me for it?” —Anonymous

    14. "Can having herpes affect your immune system or have other health impacts?” —Anonymous

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    15. "Do all STIs affect fertility in women or sterility in men?" —kiiki

    16. “I've just been treated for an STI, and I'm glad I'm in the clear. I want to have (casual) sex again, but I'm petrified. What should I do to protect myself and others?” —Anonymous

    A condom in a wrapper in front of a pink background

    17. “I have had genital herpes for over 10 years…when I was first diagnosed, I very rarely had an outbreak, but now it seems to happen more frequently. Is there something I can do to make it less frequent without medication? Diet or exercise or natural remedy? Also, have doctors found any medication to cure it?” —Anonymous

    Block letters spelling out "Herpes"

    18. “Can STIs be transmitted through just skin contact (meaning skin to genital)? Or can they only be transmitted through actual genital to genital/mouth to genital contact?” —Anonymous

    19. "Do any STIs present the same symptoms as vaginal thrush?" —rosebudlola

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    20. “I'm a lesbian who grew up with absolutely nonexistent LQBTQ-inclusive sex ed, so I was wondering what steps I would need to take in order to practice safe sex with my partner(s) in the future. What kind of protection would I need if I was, say, giving or receiving oral?” —Anonymous

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    21. “Is it true you can get an STI from a Brazilian or bikini wax?” —Anonymous

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    22. “Are there any natural, doctor-approved ways of treating or relieving STIs? No prescriptions?” —Anonymous

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    23. "If you contracted and were treated for chlamydia, can it resist treatment and/or come back?" —Anonymous

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    24. “If you’re diagnosed with a curable STI and properly treat it, is it necessary to get retested to make sure it’s gone?" —Anonymous

    A stock image of a doctor holding up vials of blood for STD testing

    25. "I was diagnosed with HSV-2 about a year and a half ago. I had a singular outbreak that lead to the diagnosis. I have been taking medication daily. I feel betrayed by my ex for lying to me about his status, and I feel ‘dirty,’ even though I know I shouldn’t. I have been trying to date, but the fear of having to tell someone and the fear of betrayal have been overwhelming. How do I tell someone? Do I have to tell someone if I’m on medication and using condoms? I don’t know how to navigate this, and I feel ashamed and alone.” — Anonymous

    26. “Is there an alternative to condoms to prevent STIs? Or is that the best route?” —Anonymous

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    27. “I was recently diagnosed with a low-risk strain of HPV through a routine Pap smear at 47 years old. My husband and I are monogamous and were each other's first and (to my knowledge) only partners. My doctor says that this isn’t an indication of infidelity, and my husband was genuinely hurt by the question. Is it possible to get HPV through some other route than sex?” —Anonymous

    An image of a doctor holding a vaginal speculum

    Did we miss anything that you may still be curious about? Feel free to let us know below, or let us know what other topics you want us to explore with experts!