What are STIs?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases that can be transmitted through body contact during sex. They are caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites and are also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or venereal diseases (VD).
There are many STIs and most are easy to treat. However, some, such as HIV, are far more serious and it is vital that you protect yourself by using condoms when you have sex.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who is sexually active can be at risk from STIs. Symptoms can vary hugely and include genital discharge, pain when urinating, genital swelling, inflammation and abnormal odours.
What if I think I have an STI?
If you think you may have an STI, then it is important you consult your doctor or clinic at the earliest possible opportunity.
However, many STIs, such as chlamydia, cause no noticeable symptoms, but can have serious health consequences if left untreated. If you think you have been at risk of catching an STI, it is important to have a sexual health check-up.
The most common STIs are: gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus, genital herpes, hepatitis B and C, and HIV.
If you think you may have an STI or STD, then you should visit your GP or local GUM clinic.