got an infection even though you had safe sex or even no sex? there are common conditions that could be causing your discomfort.

Scenario #1: Katy is a 16 year old girl who has been single her entire life, despite her best efforts. She has never been kissed or had any type of oral, vaginal or anal sex, but this morning her vagina was so itchy that she wished it would just disappear forever. How could she have contracted a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) without ever having any sexual contact with another person??

Scenario #2: Terrell is a 17 year old boy whose girlfriend has just accused him of cheating on her. She says it hurts so badly to pee that she must have an STD, which means Terrell must have slept with someone else, contracted something and passed it on to her! Terrell doesn’t understand… They use condoms and have both tested negative for STDs. How can he convince his girlfriend that he is faithful??

Before Katy decides that her romantic life is doomed forever and Terrell and his girlfriend break up, there’s important information that our heroes need to know. People can contract infections around their genitalia that aren’t connected to having an STD.

If you have been sexually active, the first step is to get tested.  If you know you don’t have an STD because you got tested or have not been sexually active, what could be the problem?

What’s happening? #1: Yeast Infection

Yeast infections occur most often in women, but men can also contract them, especially if they’re uncircumcised. In women, they are caused when the yeast (or if you prefer the science name: Candida Albicans) living in the vagina replicates excessively and throws the vagina into a funk. Not to worry, it’s not the same yeast that is present in bread, so you can’t get a yeast infection from eating a bakery pastry.

What are the most common symptoms?

  • Overwhelming itchiness
  • Burning sensations
  • Clumpy white vaginal discharge

How can it be treated?

What’s happening? #2: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

1 in 3 women will get a UTI by the time they’re 24 years old, and once you’ve gotten one, there’s a 25% chance you’ll get another one! Because a woman’s urethra (the vessel that goes from the bladder to the outside world) is located so close to the opening of the vagina and the rectum, it gets easily infected by a pesky bacteria called E. coli, which you may have studied in biology lab. If you think you have a UTI, don’t wait to go see a doctor! If left untreated, UTIs can very easily develop into far worse infections like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) or an infection of the kidneys.

What are the most common symptoms?

  • Burning sensation when peeing
  • Frequent need to urinate, but incredibly frustrating small quantity of urine when actually peeing
  • Cloudy, smelly urine

How can it be treated?

  • Antibiotics prescribed by a medical provider
  • To prevent UTIs, make sure to wipe from front to back and pee after any sexual activities to flush all that bacteria out!

What’s happening? #3: Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women under 50 years old, and it is estimated that at any given time, one third of pre-menopausal women are fighting it. There are a bunch of different organisms living in the vagina (like yeast), some of them being good bacteria, while others are harmful. Occasionally the bad bacteria band together and stage a coup and take over, which throws off the pH in your vagina and may cause you to contract BV. Although BV is not an STD, it can make it easier for you to contract one, and can be spread between female partners.

What are the most common symptoms?

  • Grey or yellow watery discharge with a strong fishy smell
  • Possible pain or itching, especially during sex (however having these symptoms does not mean you have BV!)

How can it be treated?

  • Antibiotics prescribed by a medical provider
  • Over-the-counter probiotics can help restore a healthy bacterial balance in the vagina

Don't take our word for it - talk to a doctor!

So... what do you think Katy and Terrell’s girlfriend are suffering from?

If you don’t find it super easy to tell, that’s because it’s not, especially if you’ve never had a genital infection before! A medical provider like a doctor can clear up any questions you might have about an infection AND can prescribe medication so you feel relief!

You can use TeenSource’s Find a Clinic resource to find a provider near you who can tell you everything you need to know – and to get an STD test… just in case!

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This blog was reposted from, a project of Essential Access Health. is an online hub for comprehensive and teen-friendly information on birth control, STDs, relationships and teen’s rights to accessing sensitive services. The site features youth-developed blogs and videos, a clinic finder, a Condom Access Project and links to TeenSource social media where youth can stay updated on relevant sexual and reproductive health information and news.

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