You might think you’d know straight away if you had a sexually transmitted infection. However, many people have no symptoms, feel fine and would have no idea they have contracted an infection. If you are sexually active then it’s worth getting tested, whether or not you feel any symptoms. The earlier something gets noticed, the quicker you can receive treatment.
Such infections can be transmitted between sexual partners via vaginal, anal and oral sex. It doesn’t matter who you are having sex with, anyone is susceptible to contracting an STI at some point. The infections do not discriminate and can pass between men and women, from men to men and between women. You cannot tell by looking at a person if they have an STI or not, so if you’ve been having unprotected sex, you could be at risk.
Thankfully, a lot of the STIs can be successfully treated with a course of antibiotics. Some of the more serious, such as HIV currently have no cure but can be effectively treated to prevent it worsening.
Sometimes the symptoms that all is not well in the downstairs department go unnoticed or blamed on something else. Chlamydia is one such STI that can go unnoticed for a long time. The danger with this is that left untreated, chlamydia can cause problems with fertility.
Gonorrhoea is another infection that can lead to fertility problems. Worryingly, up to 50% of women with gonorrhoea have no noticeable symptoms. Any STI left undiagnosed and untreated can lead to potential health problems.
There are multiple ways you can get tested. You can visit a sexual health clinic, otherwise known as a genitourinary medicine clinic. There might be community contraceptive clinics in your local area. You can visit your GP who will be able to advise you on where to get tested. If you prefer the privacy of your own home, you can use London Home STI kits from https://www.bexleysexualhealth.org/chlamydia_screening/
When symptoms do appear, they can take the following form:
In both men and women –
- Discomfort when passing urine
- Burning sensation around the genitals
- Itching and tingling of the genitals
- Spots, sores, blisters or lumps
- Small pale dots in underwear or black powder (eggs or droppings from public lice)
For women –
- A coloured discharge
- A smelly discharge
- Spotting or bleeding after sex or between periods
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Pain in the lower abdomen
For men –
- Penis discharge
- Urethra pain or discomfort
It’s important to practice safe sex to help prevent the risk of catching an STI or passing one on to someone else. Condoms should always be carried, and they should have the BSI kite logo or CE mark to ensure they are of the highest quality and offer good levels of protection.