Sexually Transmitted Infections
What is an STI?
An STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) is a bacterial or viral infection which can be spread through sexual contact (not just unprotected sex). STI’s can affect anyone and many of them are on the increase. Click on the questions below to find out what you need to know.
How will I know if I have an STI?
Some STI’s have symptoms which appear 3-4 days after sex where as others may take longer or not show any signs at all. The best way to know if you have an infection is to get screened if you have had unprotected sex or your usual protection has failed. Getting screened is quick and easy and you can see what happens when you visit a clinic by watching this video.
Where can I get screened?
You can get tested at clinics in your local area which you can either turn up to or ask your GP to refer you into if you would prefer. Most clinics run drop-in sessions but if you call ahead you may also be able to book an appointment at a time which suits you.
Alternatively, you can order an STI testing kit at http://www.ruclear.co.uk. Kits are free and will be sent to your home. If you find out that you do have an STI, you will need to visit your local sexual health service for treatment.
How do I avoid STI’s?
The best way to avoid STI’s is to use a condom every time you have sex. If you are using other contraception to avoid pregnancy it is still a good idea to use a condom as this is the only way to avoid STI’s.
What are the common signs and symptoms?
Although not all STI’s have symptoms, below is a list of symptoms you should watch out for. If any of these occur, it would be wise to get a full STI screening as soon as you can.
• Discharge from the penis
• Sore, tender or inflamed penis head
• Testicle ache or pain
• Unusual vaginal discharge - a change in texture or colour
• Bleeding in between periods
• Sore, tender or inflamed vulva
Men or women
• Stinging sensation when you urinate
• Itching, blisters or sores in the genital region. Also the mouth.
• Pain during sex
• Anal discharge or itching
• Feverish, flu-like symptoms with any of the above
* Brook 2011
What are the different types of STI?
Below are 2 excellent resources which have information about each STI. This may help you if you have recently been diagnosed or would like more specific information.
Brook – Types of STI’s
Lesbian Gay and Bisexual
If you are Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual you are also at risk of STI’s. Infections can be passed from sharing sex toys, oral and anal sex.
Gay and bisexual men can reduce risk of STI’s and HIV by using condoms and having regular sexual health screenings. To find out more click here
Lesbian and bisexual women although at a lower risk are still at risk of STI’s to find out more click here
For sexual health screenings further information is in our - "Where can I get screened section" above.
If you wish to access specific Lesbian, Gay and bisexual screenings and information then please click here.
Help I think I have an STI – what do I do?
The best thing to do if you have think you are at risk of having an STI is to talk to someone and get tested. This will put your mind at rest, allow you to get treated should you have an STI and allow you to get advice on how to avoid the situation again - click here to find your nearest sexual health clinic.