Five common STIs and how to know if you have one!

In the flourish of passion, we can all forget about keeping ourselves sexually protected. But quite often there can be serious repercussions, like sexually transmitted infection (STIs). However, there is no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Instead, get yourself treated and learn what you can do to prevent it from occurring again. Here are the most common STIs, and what you need to look out for.

Chlamydia

This is one of the most common STIs, and is most prevalent in people aged around 25. The infection is caused by a germ called Chlamydia trachonatis and is passed on through semen and vaginal fluids when having sex. This means that if you do contract the disease you must tell all recent sexual partners from the past six months.

In women, the affected area will be at the neck of the womb and the womb itself; whereas, in men, it affects the urethra of the penis. However, there are other places on the body that can be affected if they have come into contact with semen or vaginal fluids. The most likely of these areas are eyes, throat and lungs.

Symptoms

- Seven out of ten people will experience no symptoms at all

- Vaginal discharge or penile discharge

- Vaginal bleeding

- Pains when passing urine.

Chlamydia is often cleared with a course of antibiotics.

Genital herpes

This is one of the STIs that you may not know you even have, so it is important to watch out for the smallest of signs of infection. Genital herpes is passed on by skin-to-skin contact, which means you can get herpes on your genitals, and also around your mouth and on your skin. It can be contracted through vaginal, anal or oral sex, but can at times be passed through cuts or breaks in the skin.

Symptoms

- Groups of blisters on genitals or anus

- Sores around the mouth

- Glands in the groin are swollen. These may feel like lumps

Pubic lice – crabs

I am sure we can remember when we first got head lice, with the school on high alert for a breakout. Head lice are the same as pubic lice, and can be dealt with without pain. The louse is a blood-sucking insect which feeds of small amounts of your blood. To contract pubic lice you must be in close contact with someone else who has them.

Symptoms

- Itchy genitals which are being irritated by louse saliva

- Red bumps on the genitals

- Faint blue marks where the lice have fed

- Small brown marks found in your underwear - these are the louse’s droppings.

If you go to your GP they can advise you on the right treatments.

Syphilis

Syphilis has always been common, but there has been a noticeable rise in recent years. This STI can be contracted repeatedly over the years and can have long-term health effects. It can even be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn child. The disease is caused by Treponema pallidum and is passed from skin to skin or transmitted through blood. There are many different symptoms depending on which type or what stage of syphilis you have.

Symptoms

Primary

- An ulcer that can be painful and puss-filled

Secondary

- Rash or wart-like growth

- Hair loss, joint pains, sore throat and tiredness

Tertiary

- This will be years after the first case of syphilis but not infectious

- Brain and heart cardiovascular issues

- Gummatous disease

The best way to reduce your risk of getting syphilis is by using a condom.

Gonorrhoea

This is most likely to be transmitted by sex between a woman and man or a man and man. Although it has been caught by women having sex together, this occurrence is very rare. The main affected areas are the anal region and the mouth. If not tested early it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women or narrowing of the urethra in men.

Symptoms

- Increased discharge in both men and women

- Pain in the lower part of the pelvis (women)

- Vaginal bleeding

- Infection in the throat or rectum

- Redness at the top of the penis

- Pain when passing urine

However like most STIs, gonorrhoea can be rapidly treated with an antibiotic injection. If you don’t talk to a GP due to embarrassment, you will find yourself worse off in the future. STDs are common and you should not feel guilty or shameful if you happen to get one. Simply get treatment and stay safe with protection.