What is an STI?

STIsSexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases that can be transmitted through bodily contact during sex. Also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or venereal diseases (VD), they are caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites in the body.

There are many STIs and most are easy to treat. However, some, such as HIV, are far more serious. It is vital that you protect yourself by using condoms when you have sex in order to protect yourself.

Who is at risk?

There are many myths that you can get STIs from shared toilet seats or kissing, but this is not true. STIs are contracted through sexual intercourse, so anyone who is sexually active can be at risk from STIs.

What are the symptoms of 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.

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 even if no symptoms appear.

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 at the first available opportunity.