MANY people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) do not get symptoms, so it is advisable that you get tested even if you feel fine. It is important for you to know that if you suspect that you have an STI, the earlier you get tested, and get treated, the better it is for you.
An STI can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. You can get or pass on an STI to whoever you are having sex with. STIs can pass between men and women and from women to women and men to men.
Many STIs can be cured with antibiotics. Some, such as HIV, have no cure, but can be treated to prevent them getting worse. You cannot tell by looking at someone (yourself inclusive) whether they have an infection or not, so it is important to get a check-up if you have had unprotected sex or think you might be at risk.
STI symptoms to watch out for
Many people do not notice symptoms when they have an STI, including most women with chlamydia (any of the several common often asymptomatic sexually transmitted diseases caused by microorganisms). If it is left untreated, chlamydia can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant.
Gonorrhea can also affect fertility. A lot of women and men with gonorrhea do not have symptoms. If left untreated, STIs can affect your health. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, get tested.
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In women and men:
- pain when you pass urine (pee)
- itching, burning or tingling around the genitals
- blisters, sores, spots or lumps around the genitals or anus
- black powder or tiny white dots in your underwear – this could be droppings or eggs from pubic lice
In women alone:
- yellow or green vaginal discharge
- discharge that smells
- bleeding between periods or after sex
- pain during sex
- lower abdominal pain
In men alone:
- discharge from the penis
- irritation of the urethra (the tube urine comes out of)
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have an STI, but it is worth seeing a doctor so you can find out the cause of the symptoms and get treatment. For example, it is possible to get vagina thrush without having sex, but it can cause STI-like symptoms, such as soreness, itching and discharge. Thrush is easily treated
You can visit your doctor or health care provider to get tested if you suspect you might have contracted an STI. Early detection and treatment is very good to avoid infection and re-infection.
Safer sex is very essential, always use condoms to help protect yourself from catching or passing on an STI. Buy condoms that are not expired.