Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are passed on during unprotected sex with an infected partner. This includes vaginal, anal or oral sex. Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI if they don’t practice safe sex.
There are many different STIs including Chlamydia, Herpes, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Mycoplasma genitalium, genital herpes, hepatitis and HIV.
Symptoms can vary, depending on the type of STI, but may include:
- unusual discharge from the penis or anus
- painful urination
- sores, blisters, ulcers, warts or rashes in the genital area
- pain in the scrotum or testicles
- flu-like symptoms including fever, headache and swollen glands
However, many people who have an STI have no symptoms. This means they could unknowingly pass on the infection to a sexual partner. Left untreated, STIs can also lead to other health problems and may affect your fertility. That’s why everyone who is sexually active should have regular check-ups with their doctor or sexual health clinic. This is particularly important if you think you’ve been exposed to an STI.
It is recommended that you get tested:
- after any sexual contact with a new or casual sexual partner
- after any sex, if you know or suspect that your partner has had other sexual partners
- after any unwanted or non-consensual sexual contact
- after any sexual contact in countries where HIV and other STIs are common
- if your partner tells you that they have been diagnosed with an STI
- if you are planning a pregnancy, to prevent any infections being passed on to your baby
You can reduce your chances of getting most STIs by using barrier protection during sexual activity, including condoms and dental dams, and by limiting your sexual partners.
And remember that your doctor deals with sexual health problems on a regular basis, so if you are concerned you might have an STI, there’s no need to be embarrassed to ask for help.
For more information visit the Health Direct website
- Better Health Channel: Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Health Direct: Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Healthy WA: Sexually Transmitted Infections