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Types of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

What types of infections can I get after having sex?

Infections can be caught through vaginal sex, oral sex and anal sex. You are most at risk if you have had sex without a condom, but it is still possible to get an infection when a condom has been used so it is a good idea to get tested with any new partners.

Testing is usually done with a swab and/or a urine test and a blood test. The infections we would normally test for include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • HIV.

If you have symptoms, we may also test for:

  • Herpes Simplex virus (HSV) – Type 1 & 2
  • Trichomonas vaginalis
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Candida (Thrush).

Genital warts is another type of STI. We do not test for this. We can diagnose genital warts if you develop the characteristic lumps or bumps in your genital area.

Routine Swab and/or Urine tests

Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are common bacterial infections. Most people who have the infections will not have any obvious signs or symptoms. Both can be cured with antibiotic treatment.

These infections are tested for on the same test.

These infections are tested for on a urine sample or a cotton-tipped swab. Sometimes this can be done yourself, but if you have symptoms this might be taken by the doctor or nurse during your examination.

This is a routine test offered to everybody.

Herpes simplex virus (HSV)

This is the cold sore virus.

It is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. It can cause painful blisters or ulcers.

It is tested for on a swab taken from the sore area. The symptoms of herpes can be treated with antiviral medication. There is not a cure for the virus.

You will be offered this test if the doctor or nurse thinks that your symptoms might be caused by the herpes virus.

Further information about herpes may be found at the Herpes Viruses Association website: www. herpes.org.uk

 

Trichomonas vaginalis (TV)

This is a tiny parasite that could be passed on during sex. It can be cured with antibiotic treatment. We can easily test women for it, although we know men can carry the infection we are not able to test men for it.

You will be offered this test if the doctor or nurse thinks that your symptoms might be caused by TV.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial vaginosis is a very common condition which develops when the normal environment of the vagina changes. It may cause an unusual vaginal discharge. One in three women will get it at some time.

It is not a sexually transmitted infection but can develop after you have had sex.

You will be offered this test if the doctor or nurse thinks that your symptoms might be caused by BV.

Candida (Thrush)

Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of yeast and can cause symptoms in women and men.

It is not a sexually transmitted infection.

It is detected on a swab test. It can be treated with antifungal treatments.

You will be offered this test if the doctor or nurse thinks that your symptoms might be caused by thrush.

You can find further information on these infections on the following websites:

Routine Blood Tests

HIV

Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is most commonly passed on through unprotected sex. It can also be transmitted by coming into contact with infected blood – for example, sharing needles to inject steroids or drugs. It is a virus that affects the immune system over time.

Many people with HIV feel well and do not know they have the infection. It is treatable, but not curable.

It is important to test for HIV even if you don’t think you are at risk as there are very good treatments available for people with HIV infection.

This is a routine test offered to everybody.

Syphilis

This infection is caused by a bacteria. It can be passed on through unprotected sex. The symptoms can be difficult to recognise. It can be cured with antibiotic treatment.

It is important that Syphilis is treated, as it can have serious long term health problems.

This is a routine test offered to everybody.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is caused by a virus and affected the liver. It is passed on through contact with infection faeces- through oral and anal sex, as well as contaminated food and water.

It is not a common infection but certain groups are more at risk of coming into contact with it. It is not a routine test.

There is a vaccination that can prevent against this infection. You will be offered vaccination if you are thought to be at risk of Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus and affects the liver. It is passed on through unprotected sex.

It is not a common infection but certain groups are more at risk of coming into contact with it, therefore this is not a routine test.

There is a vaccination that can prevent against this infection. You will be offered vaccination if you are thought to be at risk of Hepatitis B.

 

You can find further information on these infections on the following websites:

Other infections that may be diagnosed on the day

Non-specific Urethritis

Non-specific urethritis (NSU) is inflammation of the urethra, which is the tube that urine comes out of. There are many different causes, ranging from STIs to a reaction to soaps or a non-STI bacterial infection.

If gonorrhoea has been ruled out as a cause, it can be called Non-Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU).

Symptoms include pain on urination, redness, swelling and itching.

It is treated with antibiotics.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID is an infection of the female upper genital tract – including the ovaries, womb and fallopian tubes. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection that has made its way up from the vagina or cervix through to the reproductive organs.

Symptoms include lower abdominal pain, pain during sex, unusual discharge or vaginal bleeding.

It is treated with antibiotics.

Pubic Lice

Pubic lice are small parasites that live in human hair, usually pubic hair. They can’t jump between people and are only transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact.

It can cause itching. You may notice lice or eggs on your hairs.

These are usually treated with over-the-counter creams.

Scabies

Scabies is caused by small parasites that make their way under the skin and can be passed on through close contact, or from infected clothing, towels or bed sheets.

They can cause severe itching on multiple parts of your body and can cause a rash which can look similar to eczema.

Scabies is treated with over-the-counter creams.

Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus ( HPV). The virus causes the warts to appear in only a small minority of people. This means the majority of people who have been infected with HPV do not develop warts.

Genital warts may either be left alone or treated to try and clear the lesions. It is important to understand that treatment is for cosmetic purposes only and treatments do not clear the virus – only the warts. Treatments include:

  • cryotherapy ( cold spray of liquid nitrogen)
  • topical creams or solutions

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