262 STIs and Other Infections of the Genitals
➤ Most women, and
many men, who are
infected with an STI
do not have any signs.
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.
sexual health, 181
safer sex, 192
Why so many women get STIs
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 (see page 193).
You may have an STI if you have one or more of these signs:
• an unusual or bad-smelling vaginal discharge
• itching genitals
• painful genitals
• sores or blisters on the genitals
• pain in your lower abdomen or pain during sex
STIs hurt men, too
When they are not treated, STIs can cause a man to:
• become infertile.
• have lasting pain.
• get infected with HIV.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012