Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also called sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or venereal diseases (VD), are common throughout the world. STDs, which are spread primarily through sexual contact, can be painful and debilitating and may lead to serious conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), prostatitis, infertility, and pregnancy complications. In severe cases, STIs can be life threatening.

There are more than 20 types of sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV; causes genital warts), trichomoniasis (called "trich"), and HIV/AIDS. Safer sex, STD testing, and prompt treatment for STDs can help reduce the spread of these infections.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor (e.g., urologist, gynecologist) if you think you may have a sexually transmitted disease. Print this page, check off the questions you would like answered, and take it with you to your medical appointment. By asking the right questions, you can learn more about how to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and reduce your risk for serious STD complications.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about STDs

  • What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
  • Why do you suspect that I have a venereal disease?
  • What does STD testing involve?
  • I have STD symptoms that come and go. Should I be tested?
  • Should I be tested for HIV/AIDS?
  • When will the results of these diagnostic tests be available?
  • Will someone contact me or should I call for the results of my STD testing? Telephone number to call: Date to call:
  • Do you recommend that I avoid sexual activity until my test results are available? If not, what types of precautions can I take to reduce the risk for infecting my sexual partner?
  • Should my partner also be tested for sexually transmitted diseases?
  • What type(s) of STD do I have?
  • Is this infection caused by bacteria, parasites, fungus, or a virus?
  • How is this infection transmitted?
  • Is this sexually transmitted disease treatable? Is it curable?
  • Does having this sexually transmitted disease increase my risk for other health problems, including other STDs?
  • Are there long-term risks or complications associated with this type of sexually transmitted disease? If so, what are these risks?
  • What does treatment for this STD involve? Which medication(s) will be used to treat my condition?
  • Why do you recommend this treatment?
  • What are the benefits, risks, side effects, and possible complications associated with this STD treatment?
  • How will this treatment be administered? How should I take the recommended medication(s)?
  • How long will my course of treatment take?
  • Are there steps I can take to help improve the effectiveness of my treatment and/or to help myself to feel better during treatment?
  • What should I do if I experience severe side effects from the medication? Telephone number to call:
  • Should I avoid sexual activity during treatment? If not, what types of precautions can I take to reduce the risk for infecting my sexual partner?
  • How will you determine if treatment is working? Will I undergo additional STD testing?
  • If this sexually transmitted infection is resistant to this STD medication, what other treatment options are available?
  • Are there newer medications that might be helpful in treating my condition?
  • If this STD is not curable, how can I reduce the risk for transmitting the disease to my future sexual partners?
  • What types of sexual activity increase the risk for STDs?
  • Can you recommend a local or online support group for people who have STDs?
  • Can you recommend a local or online support group for sexual partners of people who have an STD?
  • Can you recommend resources for more information about sexually transmitted diseases?

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Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 03 Apr 2009

Last Modified: 19 Jul 2011