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Prevention of sexually transmitted infections

Cynthia L Gay, MD, MPH
Myron S Cohen, MD
Section Editor
Noreen A Hynes, MD, MPH, DTM&H
Deputy Editor
Allyson Bloom, MD


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common and preventable causes of morbidity and serious complications. Untreated chlamydial and gonococcal infection may result in pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain in 10 to 20 percent of cases [1]. STIs can also result in adverse outcomes in pregnancy, including spontaneous abortion, still birth, premature birth, and congenital infection [2]. Finally, the presence of STIs can facilitate HIV transmission [3-5]. Thus, primary prevention of STIs needs to be given high priority.

This topic addresses issues related to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Prevention of HIV infection is discussed in more detail elsewhere. (See "HIV infection: Risk factors and prevention strategies".)

Screening for sexually transmitted infections is discussed elsewhere. (See "Screening for sexually transmitted infections".)


A key strategy in the prevention of STIs involves the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of patients, as well as their sexual partners, to interrupt transmission. Routine sexual histories are critical to allow targeted STI screening and prevention counseling. Assessment of any history of substance abuse, which can lead to disinhibition and risk-taking behaviors, is also important. Risk factors are listed below:

Unmarried status


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Literature review current through: Dec 2016. | This topic last updated: Thu Nov 05 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2015.
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