Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STD), are infections that are passed from one person to another during sex. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for STIs. Having multiple partners or unprotected sex increases that risk.

What are Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)?

If your teenager is sexually active, or considering becoming sexually active, he or she needs to learn how to prevent STIs (also called sexually transmitted diseases - STD) and the importance of testing and prompt treatment if they are at risk for an STI.

What are the different types of Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)?

The most common types of STIs include:


What are the signs and symptoms of Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)?

Many STIs can have mild symptoms, or none at all, but they can increase a teen’s risk of acquiring:

Teens should be tested for infections immediately if they develop symptoms such as:

How are Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) diagnosed?

Depending on what STIs your teen’s doctor is testing for, he or she may:

  • Take a urine sample (chlamydia, gonorrhea)
  • Take a blood sample from the arm (HIV, herpes, syphilis)
  • Obtain a vaginal swab of the discharge (chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis)
  • Obtain a swab from inside the mouth (HIV)

Can Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) be prevented?

The best way for your teenager to prevent STIs is to avoid sexual activity (abstinence). At Children’s Health, we will explain the potential consequences of sexual activity – especially risky or unprotected sex.

If teens are already sexually active, or planning to be, we recommend: 

  • Using a new condom every time they have sex. 
    • Condoms are not guaranteed to prevent all STIs, but they greatly reduce the risk of acquiring the most dangerous ones – like HIV.
  • Limiting the number of sexual partners

If your teen is sexually active, they should get regular tests for STIs. Though most females can wait until 21 years old to start regular pap smears, all sexually active young females should visit their physician for annual exams.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that all teenagers be offered HIV testing. It’s important for your teen to receive regular counseling about STI and HIV prevention.


Sexually active female teenagers be tested annually for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Testing for syphilis is recommended only if a sexually active female has symptoms.


Certain sexually active males should be offered screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and should be screened for syphilis. 

How are Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) treated?

If your teen is diagnosed with an STI, treatment depends on the infection.

It may include:

  • Antibiotics for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis
  • Anti-parasitic medication for trichomoniasis
  • Antiviral medications to treat and prevent outbreaks of, but not cure, herpes
  • Combination of antiviral medications to treat, but not cure, HIV
  • Creams to get rid of genital warts, but not the HPV virus

Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Doctors and Providers