How do I know if I have an STI?
When it comes to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, spreading of the infections continue to increase. It’s important to practice safe sex as not doing this is increasing your health risk. Public Health England’s 2014 report stated that 439,243 cases of STIs were confirmed as well as people under the age of 25 and gay and bisexual men most likely being at risk of getting STIs.
Further statistics in the report stated that people ages between 16 to 24 accounted for:
• 63% of chlamydia
• 55% of gonorrhoea
• 52% of genital warts
• 42% of herpes
In regards to HIV infections, the 2014 report stated that there were more than 6,000 new cases of HIV across the UK. This also stated that men who have sex with men are mostly likely at risk as well as black African men and women born in sub-Saharan African countries.
Will I get symptoms?
Not necessarily, infections don’t always have symptoms meaning you may not know if you’ve caught something, it’s reported that up to a quarter of people with HIV, don’t know that they have it. If you have an undiagnosed STI, you are increasing your risk of it getting worse and passing it onto others, which is why it’s important to have it checked and treated.
When it comes to STIs you can’t tell that someone has one just from looking at them so it’s important to have protected sex and use a condom, this will instantly reduce your risk.
Hidden signs you’ve been infected
Surprisingly, even the most common STI like chlamydia can be symptomless. There’s also a number of hidden signs that could indicate you’re infected…
Lumps, bumps and sores
Lumps, bumps and sores located in your intimate area can be scary, but try not to panic as these lumps can be completely harmless. Should your lump look wart like and feel rough or grainy, this could be genital warts. If the lump is soft to touch and looks like a pimple, this could be an ingrown hair or a small, benign non cancerous growth. Having sores or blisters on your genitals or in/around your mouth, this tends to be a sign of herpes.
Burning when peeing
This sensation is unpleasant and when you pass urine it will feel like fire, putting you off going to the bathroom. This symptom can indicate herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, a urinary tract infection or a bladder infection.
Noticing frequent pain is one of the tell-tale signs that something is not right, a consistent pain in your abdomen or in men, in your testicles, can indicate gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichinosis. If you’re experiencing pain when you’re having sex then it’s important to seek medical assistance immediately.
This tends to occur in women more than it does in men, so if you’re bleeding irregularly or frequently, it can mean an infection, inflammation or even cancer. Irregular bleeding can happen naturally every now and then, so don’t panic if you have an irregular bleed. But when it starts to become a part of your daily life, it’s time to visit your GP. It’s also important to watch out for bleeding after sex, this can happen naturally if it’s been rough, but if it’s happening often, it’s time to get it checked.
Discharge is normal and healthy for women, but not for men, whilst both sexes can experience odd discharge, it has the potential to be serious. It’s important to keep an eye on your discharge, if it’s green or yellow, this could mean you have gonorrhoea, if its thick white or has a slight odour, you should get checked out professionally. Having abnormal discharge doesn’t mean you have an STI, it could be inflammation or a yeast infection, but it’s always important to get it checked.
Rashes and itching
Rashes can be irritating especially when they’re unbearably itchy, it can be tricky to work out if the red patches are harmless as they could be eczema or a heat rash, or they could be more serious. If you notice a rash around your genital area, it’s better to be safe than sorry and get a professional opinion.
You can get an STI, even if you’ve only had intercourse once?
Yes, you only need to have unprotected sex once to get an STI or pass one on to someone else. The more sexual partners you have, the more at risk you are. Whether you have more than one partner at the same time or different times.
You can contract an STI, without having intercourse?
Yes, you can, you can catch infections from indirect contact, oral sex, dry sex and even kissing…
Ways that STIs can be spread includes the use of damp or moist objects, this includes towels. Although the risk of infection tends to be low, it still can happen, especially in the case of the disease Trichomoniasis, known as Trich, this is a parasite that can live outside the body for up to 45 minutes. We recommend that you refrain from sharing damp or moist items like clothing or towels.
Although this tends to not be considered as sex, it can still lead to the spread of STIs, it can lead to the transmission of herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and other diseases. It can be spread during oral sex with infected secretions and surfaces on the body, so it’s important to use protection to reduce the spread of these diseases, it’s safer to use condoms during penile-oral sex. You can also use dental dams for oral vaginal sex.
Dry sex, also known as body to body rubbing, can spread herpes, even though there is no penetration or bodily fluids involved. The only way to spread infections by dry humping is if there is skin to skin contact, this means that you are safe if your clothes are kept on. Should there be skin to skin contact, this increases the risk of warts (HPV) and other viral or bacterial infections.
Should you be concerned regarding any of the points in the article and your own health, don’t worry, contact Broadgate GP today, we provide a full sexual health service including sexual health screenings, tests and treatment.