Who to turn to
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Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed between people via unprotected sexual activity, whether this is orally, vaginally or anally.
The most common types of STIs are Chlamydia and HPV (genital warts).Read more from the NHS about sexually transmitted infections here.
If you have had unprotected sex and you experience any of the following symptoms you must ensure you are checked out.
- Pain or discomfort when urinating
- Unusual discharge from the vagina or penis
- Inflammation or discomfort of the genital area
- Rectal pain, bleeding or discomfort
- Bleeding during or after sex (female)
- An unusual sore throat (if oral sex has been undertaken)
It must also be remembered than some STIs can be asymptomatic, meaning you may not present any symptoms.
The key thing to remember; if you have had unprotected sex it is possible that you have an STI.
One of the most common STIs that is generally asymptomatic, Chlamydia can cause infertility in both men and women, and therefore quick treatment is essential.
Click here to read more about Chlamydia, and what will happen if you catch it.
Another very common STI, second to Chlamydia, genital warts caused human papilloma virus (HPV).
The infection presents itself as small fleshy bumps that are not necessarily passed by sexual contact; they can be passed skin to skin.
The warts are not necessarily painful but can look unpleasant and be a nuisance as they have a tendency to re-occur.
It should be remembered that warts can appear some time after being exposed to HPV and therefore it should not be assumed that your partner has been unfaithful if they suddenly have genital warts.
They could have contracted the infection months or even years ago.
Read more about genital warts here.
Click here to find out more information on other common STIs and the symptoms you may experience, plus how dangerous they can be.
How to find a clinic
Testing and treatment is carried out at a sexual health or genitourinary medicine(GUM) clinic, often anonymously if required. Click here to find a location near to you.
Word from our GP
“Some STIs exist without symptoms, so don’t be fooled into thinking you are safe from STIs if you have had unprotected sex - get checked out as soon as possible.
Some surgeries supply self testing kits so you don’t have to see the doctor first.
Results generally take around a week and can be sent to you by text message. It really is a confidential and straight forward process.”
Dr Dawkins, Riversalde Surgery.
Things to remember
- Practice safe sex at all times – it’s not worth the risk to your health.
- When you visit a GUM clinic you don’t have to give your real name, so don’t worry if you are embarrassed.
- Most tests are carried out via a simple urine test; swabs are only taken if discharge is present. Don’t worry though this is relatively pain-free.
- HIV can take up to three months to show in your blood stream so you may need to wait for testing for this.
Read our coffee break interview with Dr Justine Dawkins on the importance of safe sex here.