Boost your STI awareness

This year’s Sexual Health Week 2018, organised by the sexual health charity fpa, is all about consent. It’s also the ideal opportunity for us to raise our awareness of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts and gonorrhoea.

According to fpa, a STI is an infection that’s passed from one person to another through unprotected sex, by genital contact and through sharing sex toys. However, not everyone who has a STI has any symptoms. And sometimes symptoms can take weeks or months to start, which means you could pass the infection to others without you realising it.

This is why experts recommend you seek advice if you or a sexual partner have had unprotected sex with anyone recently, or if you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner.

If you do have any symptoms, they may include one or more of the following:

  • Unusual discharge
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain and/or bleeding during sex or bleeding after sex
  • Testicular pain
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Rashes, lumps, blisters or itching around the genitals or anus

If you’re affected by any of these symptoms, visit your nearest genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic.

How to get treatment

Most STIs can be treated or managed effectively, but it’s best if they’re treated as quickly as possible. If they’re left untreated they can cause long-term problems for your health and sometimes your fertility.

If you have any symptoms, or if you’re worried you may have a STI, all of the tests and treatments are available at GUM and sexual health clinics (find a clinic via fpa’s online search facility). Some GP practices also provide testing for some STIs, as do some pharmacies. You can also buy licensed home testing kits for infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV at some pharmacies if you think you may have a STI but don’t have any signs of symptoms.

Meanwhile, protect yourself against STIs by using condoms every time you have sex and try to avoid sharing sex toys (if you do share them, wash them or cover them with a new condom each time).

For more advice on diagnosing, treating and preventing STIs, you can have a confidential chat with your local Careway pharmacist in a private consulting room. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.

There’s lots more information about STIs on fpa’s Sexwise website.