Your guide to sexually transmitted infections (STI’s)

Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) are infections spread through sexual intercourse and other sexual activities.

With some of the more serious STI’s, not knowing you are infected could damage your health quite significantly. Some of the most common STI’s are:

  • Chlamydia– This is one of the most common STI’s in the UK, and one that is on the increase. However, it is fairly easy to test for and just as easy to treat. This STI is recognised in women by vaginal discharge, heavy periods or discharge, abdominal pain, or pain when going to the toilet. In men, Chlamydia is recognised by the testicles swelling quite painfully, and cloudy discharge coming out of the penis.
  • Herpes– This is a viral infection, caused by the herpes virus. It is becoming more and more common among young people in their 20’s, and is passed through unprotected vaginal sex, oral sex, and anal sex, too. Herpes is recognised by a tingling or stinging feeling in the genital area, upon which blisters will start to appear. Other symptoms are also common too, and include headaches, backache, a significantly higher temperature than normal, and pain when passing urine.
  • Pubic lice– Lice are not only passed through sexual contact/intercourse, but are instead most commonly passed through bodies coming into close contact, or by towels being shared. Public lice are hard to see and therefore it is quite easy to be unaware that you have it. Lice will make your genital area incredibly itchy, with brown eggs left behind. Scratching this area will cause swelling and inflammation, which will remain until the lice are treated with special solutions.
  • Thrush– This is caused by yeast called Candida Albicans, and when the level of yeast increases, thrush is caused as a result. The yeast that causes thrush lives unharmfully in the vagina all the time, and develops into thrush. Thrush is most common in women, and roughly 3 in every 4 women will get it at some point in their life. Antibiotics, contraceptives and strong body sprays can trigger it.
  • Genital warts– Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus, and are the most common STI. They can often take a year or so to develop and are not always easy to see, especially if they are inside the vagina. Genital warts can be quite easily treated with special ointments and creams, clearing up within a week or so.