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STIsAn STI, or sexually transmitted infection, can be bacterial or viral and is easily spread through unprotected sexual contact.

What are STIs?

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection of the male and female genitals that is passed on through unprotected sexual contact. STIs are sometimes known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or a venereal disease (VD) and mainly occur amongst young people between the ages of 16 and 24, although it is now a growing trend amongst the 40-plus age group.

STIs are a serious health problem and, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage and even infertility. If you have been diagnosed with an STI, it's important to seek help as soon as possible and to ensure you aren't involved in any forms of sexual contact until your infection has been successfully cleared up.

What causes a sexually transmitted infection?

A sexually transmitted infection can be caused by either a bacteria or a virus.

Bacterial STIs include:

Bacterial infections can be treated and cured with a course of antibiotics, either as a single-day strong dose or as a seven-day dose.

Viral STIs include:

Viral infections can be controlled and treated, but not cured because the virus remains in your body even after the symptoms disappear.

What are the common symptoms?

In most cases STIs have no symptoms. You could quite easily catch one without realising it. However, you could experience some symptoms, the most common of which are:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or anus
  • Blisters, sores or warts around the genitals
  • Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Rash or itching near the genitals or anus

How are they spread?

STIs can be spread easily from one person to another through unprotected sexual contact, through vaginal, anal and oral sex. Most sexually transmitted infections are transferred through the bodily fluids when an infected person has sex with an uninfected person without protection. However, some infections, like genital herpes, can be passed on through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area.

Sexual activity at a young age, multiple sexual partners and unprotected sex are all factors that will increase your chance of contracting an STI.

How can I prevent STIs?

Most sexually transmitted infections can be successfully prevented by simply using a condom during vaginal and anal sex, or a dental dam during oral sex. You should ensure that you get regular tests - at least once a year - to be sure that you have not contracted the infection if you are sexually active.

You should also schedule regular gynaecological or male genital examinations to make sure that, if you have an infection, it is diagnosed and treated quickly.

How can I test for STIs?

If you are sexually active, you should test for STIs at least once a year to be safe, whether or not you have any symptoms.

You can test for STIs by visiting a GUM clinic and getting an STI screening. If you feel embarrassed about being tested, you can easily order a test online at your discretion. Our tests are delivered quickly, are easy to use, and are 100% confidential and 99% accurate.

Once you have placed your order online and received your test, you simply take the test and post it back to our registered laboratory, and your results will be made available to you online within a few days.

If you test positive for an STI, we will direct you to a short online consultation with a registered doctor. They can approve a prescription and recommend the best possible treatment for you.

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