The frightening thing about STIs is that most of them don't show any symptoms. If you catch an STI after unprotected sex, there's a good chance that you won't know you have it.
However, this doesn't mean that they aren't extremely dangerous. Sexually transmitted infections can cause serious damage to your reproductive organs and make you infertile. They can also play a part in the development of other conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, epididymitis and cervical cancer. It's the bacterial STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, that usually show no symptoms.
The STIs that are most likely to cause symptoms are viral STIs, such as genital herpes and genital warts. These STIs can't be cured, and can return to cause more uncomfortable symptoms in the future.
While we still stress the importance of regular testing, there are some noticeable signs of an infection that you could experience, and that you should act upon immediately. If you experience any of the following STI symptoms, you would definitely be advised to take a test:
Most bacterial STIs can be cured with antibiotic treatments, but you'll need to have a positive test result before you can be prescribed a suitable treatment.
Unlike bacterial STIs, viral infections do show symptoms. However, you may not experience them right away. Genital warts and genital herpes are the two most common viral infections. These STI symptoms may appear within a few weeks or may take months, or even years, to appear. And unlike bacterial infections, viral infections cannot always be cured.
It's often assumed that because viral STIs are contagious (passed on by touch) that they cannot be caught unless you touch the visible STI symptoms. However, both genital warts and genital herpes can sometimes be active on the surface of the skin without even being visible.
Genital herpes symptoms include:
Genital herpes can be tested for with an individual Genital Herpes test or with a Full STI Screen test. Genital herpes cannot be cured, but if you find out that you have the virus, before symptoms appear, you can prevent the virus from spreading to a partner.
Genital warts symptoms include:
Unfortunately, there is no test for genital warts. They can only be diagnosed through a physical exam after symptoms appear.
There are many other viral STIs, including HIV, hepatitis and syphilis, but these infections cause symptoms that appear across the body, not just near the groin. A blood sample is required to test for these infections, which should be administered by a doctor.
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