Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) can affect anyone who's sexually active. Some infections can be treated to keep you and your partners healthy. There are many things you can do to stay STI free.
Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are infections which can be passed from one person to another during sexual contact.
Sexual contact includes:
The most common STIs are:
You can get an STI by having sex without a condom.
You are more likely to get an STI if you have sex without a condom with:
Men who have anal sex without a condom with other men are also at higher risk of STIs.
Some STIs don’t have any signs or symptoms, so you can have an STI without knowing. This means you can pass the STI to a sexual partner and make them sick too.
Some STIs show symptoms around your genitals. Genitals include:
These symptoms can include:
The only way to find out if you have an STI is to have an STI test:
Your doctor will tell you which tests you should have. It takes 1 to 2 weeks to get the test results.
You should have an STI test if:
A ‘positive’ test result means you have an STI. Your doctor will give you medication to treat the STI.
Most bacterial STIs can be treated and cured. This means when you are finished treatment, the infection is gone from your body and can’t be passed onto a sexual partner.
Some viral STIs can be treated, but not cured. This means when you are finished treatment, the physical symptoms of the virus are gone but the virus may remain in your body and may still be able to be passed onto a sexual partner.
You should tell your sexual partners if you have an STI, so they can go to their doctor to have a test.
If your sexual partners are not tested or don't take their STI medication, you could keep giving the STI to each other.
You do not have to tell your:
It can be difficult to talk to partners about STIs, but you can use an online resource called Let Them Know to help you either tell your partners yourself or anonymously about some STIs.
You can also ask your doctor if they can help you. Let Them Know provides information to help doctors help you.
You should see your doctor to have regular STI tests to make sure you stay STI free.
Most STIs are easily treated with medication such as antibiotics. After the treatment is finished, you will not pass the STI on to anyone else.
Some STIs can be treated with medication, but not cured. The medication will help control the STI in your body and help prevent symptoms. You will need to manage the STI and your sexual contact. Your doctor can talk to you about how to do this.
If STIs are not treated, you could have long term health problems such as infertility and you can continue to pass the STI on to your sexual partners.
Always use a condom when you have sex.
If you do get an STI, don’t have sex again until you and your sexual partners have seen a doctor and finished the STI treatment.
The best way to avoid getting an STI is to use a condom or other barrier method every time you have sex. You should also: