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I've always had a fear of STDs, I'm not sure why, I'm just a germo. Statistically speaking, I know the odds I contracted it are very small. I've gotten better as I've gotten older, but I've tried to be careful to protect myself. Most of the data I've read indicate somewhere around 2% per year from female to male with regular condom use. has you covered in Sex & Body Talk, a regular column where we ask an expert a zillion questions and translate what it means.Sexually transmitted diseases (also called sexually transmitted infections — STIs) are illnesses spread through sex (all the kinds!
Other times, it's transmitted sexually — and yes, oral sex counts, too.
There's a whole menu of tests your doctor can run for you, and they don't necessarily give you every one.
If, for example, you've fooled around in your underwear with your boyfriend but never had vaginal, oral, or anal sex, you might get tested for herpes and HPV (which can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact), but not necessarily for gonorrhea.
But having an STD is no different than anything else you'd go to the doctor for. There's a medication you can take during an outbreak to help it clear up (the brand name version is called Valtrex).
Most doctors don't test for herpes automatically because it requires a separate blood test, so if you think you could be at risk — if you've slept with someone who has it, or if you're experiencing sores — you should specifically ask to be tested for it. People who have herpes do have to deal with annoying outbreaks every once in a blue moon, but that doesn't mean they can't have totally normal experiences with sex and dating.