STIs or sexually transmitted infections are infections which are passed on from one person to another through having unprotected sex or sexual contact, this includes vaginal, anal, or oral sex. No matter your age, gender or sexuality you can contract an STI if you engage in unprotected sex, although young people and people who have multiple sexual partners have a higher risk of contracting these infections.
Dr. Diana Gall
Our Health Care Team
"There is a stigma surrounding STIs, however, you should not be embarrassed to visit your GP or sexual health nurse if you suspect you may be infected. We can test you for any type of STI and prescribe treatment straight away to clear the infection as soon as possible. Of course, lowering your risk of contracting an STI through safe sex is vital but if you do become infected treatment is necessary to avoid complications which can be life threatening."
What are STIs?
There are many types of bacterial and viral STIs, some more serious than others and many can be easily cured or symptoms can be managed. Depending on the type of STI there will be different methods of treatment, some methods do no work for some STIs, for instance, antibiotics do not work for viral sexually transmitted infections. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis of your infection from your GP or sexual health nurse to ensure that you receive the right treatment.
Types of STI include:
- Genital warts
- Genital herpes
- Pubic lice
What are the symptoms of STIs?
Each STI has different symptoms but there are some symptoms which are common amongst all STIs. If you’re experiencing any of the following this may be a sign that you have a sexually transmitted infection. Look out for:
- Unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or anus
- Lumps or skin growths on the genitals or anus
- Unusual bleeding from the vagina
- A rash
- Pain when urinating
- Blisters or sores on the genitals or anus
- Itchy genitals or anus
However, not all STIs will show symptoms or they may be so subtle that you don’t notice them. It may even be days, weeks, months or years before your symptoms develop. It’s important to get a sexual health check up to test for any STI as this is the only way to detect this.
HIV is an STI that has different symptoms to the other common types of STI and can be more subtle. HIV can easily be mistaken for another illness as the symptoms are similar to flu with a fever, sore throat, headache, achy muscles and red rash.
What causes STIs?
STIs are caused by a contagious infection entering the body through contact with skin or bodily fluids such as blood, semen or vaginal fluids which are infected. You can spread STIs through having sex without a condom, or spread it by sharing needles when injecting with intravenous drugs.
How to get tested for STIs
You can get tested at your nearest sexual health clinic or by your GP or nurse. Most STIs are tested with a blood or urine sample but sometimes testing may require a physical examination of the pelvic and genital area and/or a swab of fluid from the infected area.
How to treat STIs
Medication is usually used to treat most STIs, but there are some such as HIV and genital herpes which cannot be cured but the symptoms can be managed. To cure common STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea a course of antibiotics are usually prescribed such as azithromycin which you can buy online at Doctor-4-U. With a course of antibiotics symptoms will usually clear up in a few days but it’s important to finish the course to get the full effect and fully clear the infection. There are also tablets and creams available to treat the symptoms of genital herpes and warts and minimise outbreaks as these infections can return.
To buy STI medication online you will need to fill out a medical questionnaire which will be reviewed by one of our online doctors to determine your suitability which will depend on whether you have any other health conditions or are taking other medication.
Can STIs be prevented?
Yes, and prevention is much better than cure. It’s important to protect yourself every time you have sex and the most effective way of doing this is by using condoms which are over 98% effective at protecting against STIs.
Other ways to prevent STIs include:
- Getting vaccinated against certain STIs such as hepatitis B
- Getting tested regularly
- Avoid having sex under the influence of drugs and alcohol as your less likely to have protected sex
- Reduce your number of sexual partners
However, if you do have an STI getting treated with the right medication as soon as possible is so important to avoid complications.