You don't need to have a lot of sexual partners to get a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Sex just once with someone who has an infection can be enough.
What is a sexually transmitted infection?
Some infections can pass to another person through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex and through sharing sex toys. Infections spread in this way are known as sexually transmitted infections.
Safer sex involves using condoms correctly every time you have sex. If you don’t use a condom you are more at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.
You don’t need to have lots of sexual partners to get an infection.
Can they be treated?
Most sexually transmitted infections can be treated and it is usually best if treatment is started as soon as possible. Some infections, such as HIV, genital warts and genital herpes, never leave the body but there are drugs available that can reduce the symptoms and help prevent or delay the development of complications. If left untreated, many sexually transmitted infections can be painful or uncomfortable, and can permanently damage your health and fertility, and can be passed on to someone else.
How will I know if I have an infection?
Not everyone who has a sexually transmitted infection has signs and/or symptoms. Sometimes these don’t appear for weeks or months and sometimes they go away, but you can still have the infection and pass it on to someone else. If you experience any of the following you should seek advice:
Even if you don’t have any signs and/or symptoms you may wish to seek advice or have a check-up, particularly if:
Where can I go if I am worried I might have an infection?
You can get all tests and treatments at a GUM or sexual health clinic. General practices, contraception clinics, young people’s services and some pharmacies may also provide testing for some infections. If they can’t provide what you need, they will be able to give you details of the nearest service that can.
All advice, information and tests are free, but if you go to a general practice you may have to pay a prescription charge for any treatment.
How will I be tested for sexually transmitted infections?
Tests for both men and women may include:
In women the tests might also include:
What will I be tested for?
You will not automatically be tested for all infections. All tests are optional and should only be done with your permission. Sometimes you will get the results straightaway, and sometimes you will have to wait. The service will explain how you will get the results.
You can also get information about sexually transmitted infections from fpa.
What other services do GUM and sexual health clinics provide?
In addition to tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, there may be other services available, such as:
How can I protect myself against sexually transmitted infections?
The following measures can help protect against sexually transmitted infections: