Why are STIs a serious problem for me

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Men and women can both get STIs. But a woman gets infected from a man more easily than a man gets infected from a woman. This is because a man’s penis goes into some part of a woman’s body—such as her vagina, mouth, or anus—during sex. Without a condom, the man’s semen, which may carry infection, stays inside her body. This gives her a greater chance of getting an infection in the womb, tubes, and ovaries. When a woman has sores on her genitals or irritation from an infection in the vagina, she can also get HIV more easily.

Because most STIs are inside a woman’s body, the signs of an STI in a woman are harder to see than in a man. So it is often hard to tell if a woman has an infection in her genitals—much less what kind of infection she has.

It can be hard for a woman to protect herself from an STI. Often, she must have sex when her partner demands it. She may not know if her partner has sex with other partners, or if he is infected with an STI. If he has another partner who is infected, he may infect his wife.

A woman may not be able to persuade her partner to use condoms. Latex condoms are the best way to protect both partners, but the man has to be willing to use them.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en010503