STI Information

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's)


Sexually Transmitted Infections are caused by close sexual contact and exchange of bodily fluid (vaginal secretions, semen, blood, breast milk).

Every sexually active individual is at risk.

Risk factors include:
- no. of partners
- unprotected sex
- already having an STI
- nature of sexual activity (oral/vaginal/anal)

STI's are most prevalent among young people.

Symptoms

Many STI's have NO SYMPTOMS.

Symptoms can include:
- Pain passing urine / during sex
- Abnormal discharge
- Odour
- Itch / Rash
- Sores on / around genitalia
- Abdominal Pain

Long Term complications & possible consequences can include Infertility, Impotence, Cancer, Heart problems and even Death.

How can you avoid infection?

Abstain from intercourse
Limit your number of partners
Use a condom - only one at a time, and only with water-based lubricants
Use a dental dam for oral sex
Find out your partners sexual history
Be hygienic - urinate & wash genital area post sexual activity
Don't share sex toys / injecting equipment
Get your health checked regularly.

 

Common STI's

 

Chlamydia
What is it? Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection, which often shows no symptoms, but if left untreated, can cause serious problems such as Pelvic Inflammation or even infertility. It is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis
Who is at risk? Sexually active men and women. Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal and oral sex, and from mother to baby during birth.
What are the symptoms? Most women and many men experience no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after infection. Women can feel pain in the lower abdomen, which can lead to infection of the fallopian tubes, or the pelvic floor and ultimately to infertility. Men might notice discharge from the penis or pain when urinating. Left untreated, they can develop inflammation of the testicles.
Where to test? At Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) Clinics, Family Planning Clinics or your GP. Both you and your partner(s) should get tested.
How is it treated? Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. You will need to visit a healthcare professional for formal diagnosis and treatment and should not have unprotected sex whilst infected.

 

Gonorrhoea
What is it? Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Who is at risk? Gonorrhoea most frequently affects 15 to 25-year-old men and women, but also older people. It can be transmitted during vaginal, anal and oral sex, and from mother to baby during birth.
What are the symptoms? Men can experience painful urination and yellow or green discharge from the penis or rectum. Women can notice painful urination and discharge from the vagina. In both sexes, a sore throat is a sign of the infection acquired through oral sex. Long term symptoms may be inflammation of sexual organs and infertility in women. Many infected individuals will not show any symptoms.
Where to test? At Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) Clinics, or your GP. Both you and your partner(s) should get tested.
How is it treated? Gonorrhoea is treatable with antibiotics. You and your partner(s) should visit the doctor for diagnosis and treatment. You should not have sex whilst infected.

 

Syphilis
What is it? Syphilis is a highly contagious sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. It has three stages. The first two are contagious and the third is not contagious but causes sever deterioration of general health.
Who is at risk? Sexually active men and women of all ages. It can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex. Mothers infected with syphilis can also transfer the infection to their children during pregnancy.
What are the symptoms? 1st stage (2-6 weeks after contact): painless ulcers or sores on the genitals, anus or in the mouth. These will disappear after a few weeks. 2nd stage (weeks or months after first stage): all over body rash (including palms of hands and soles of feet), flu-like symptoms including fever. These symptoms can reappear again, however, many people do not develop any symptoms. 3rd stage (years after contact): damage to the heart and arteries, damage to the brain and nervous system.
Where to test? At Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) Clinics, or your GP. Both you and your partner(s) should get tested.
How is it treated? Syphilis is treatable with antibiotics. You and your partner(s) should visit the doctor for diagnosis and treatment. You should not have unprotected sex whilst infected.

 

HIV
What is it? Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening infections.
Who is at risk? Sexually active men and women and injecting drug users. Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate (pre-cum), or breast milk. The three major routes of transmission are unprotected sex (in particular anal or vaginal), contaminated needles, and transmission from an infected mother to her baby at birth or through breast milk; NOT through kissing, touching, sharing cups, cutlery or toilets.
What are the symptoms? There may be no symptoms when someone first gets infected with HIV. If untreated, it can develop into AIDS, which is the gradual failure of the immune system, where life-threatening infections attack the body and can ultimately lead to death.
Where to test? At Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) Clinics or your GP. Both you and your partner(s) should get tested. HIV virus can be detected in the blood 3 months after infection at the earliest.
How is it treated? HIV is for life, but treatment can prolong life expectancy to that comparable to a natural life span. If you have HIV, you risk giving it to others if you have unprotected sex.

 

Genital Herpes
What is it? Genital Herpes is a viral infection caused by either of the two Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV-1 or HSV-2). Cold sores and genital herpes are both caused by HSV viruses.
Who is at risk? Sexually active men and women of all ages. Genital herpes is transmitted through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with someone infected with herpes. The herpes virus is usually contracted when someone has herpes sores, but it can also be passed on when no sores are present.
What are the symptoms? Redness and tingling in the affected area, then ulcers similar to cold sores appear. Discharge may also be experienced. After the episode the sores heal without scars. Outbreaks can repeat several times in a year. The first outbreak is usually more severe and has flu-like symptoms. Herpes is not fatal and does not cause infertility.
Where to test? At Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) Clinics or your GP. This is done by visual inspection and a swab.
How is it treated? There is no treatment that can eradicate herpes virus from the body. Anti-viral medication can be used to control the outbreaks and creams are applied to numb the pain. You should not have sex whilst you have an episode.

 

S.T.I.s

 

Name of Infection

What is it?

Transmission Risks

Prevention

Treatment

Bacterial vaginosis (BV):

Vaginal infection causing smelly discharge and discoloration.

 

The vagina normally has a balance of mostly "good" bacteria and fewer "harmful" bacteria. BV develops when the balance changes. With BV, there is an increase in harmful bacteria and a decrease in good bacteria.

Sharing toys between partners without use of condoms or cleaning the toys.

 

Touching own genitals then partner’s.

Use condoms on sex toys.

 

Clean fingers in hot, soapy water before touching self or partner.

 

Keep fingernails short.

 

Use latex gloves and lube.

Antibiotics

Crabs and lice

Small lice that live in the pubic hair. These cause inflammation and irritation.

Through close body contact, usually during sex with an infected person.

 

Lice can be spread through infected, shared bedding and clothing.

Difficult to prevent, but maintain high levels of cleanliness

Non prescription lotion or specialised cream

Cystitis

Bacteria in bladder and urethra causing burning when urinating, frequent urination, aching in lower abdomen and back

Frequent sex.

 

Wiping from back to front after using toilet.

 

Common in all women regardless of sexuality.

Use lubricants for sex.

 

Urinate a.s.a.p. after vaginal sex.

 

Clean fingers and toys of moving between anus and vagina.

 

Wipe front to back after toileting.

 

Keep fingernails short.

 

Use latex gloves

Antibiotics

Genital warts:

 

These are fleshy growths in the vulva and anal region. This can appear on the skin anywhere in the genital area as small whitish or flesh-coloured bumps, which can develop into larger, fleshy, cauliflower-like lumps. They may be itchy but are usually painless. There are no other symptoms of genital warts, but if a woman has a wart on her cervix she may experience slight bleeding or unusually coloured vaginal discharge.

They are caused by certain strains of human papilloma virus (HPV)

Usually sexually acquired through skin contact, such as rubbing vulvas together.

There are a variety of treatment options, including freezing and medicated creams.

 

Hepatitis A

Virus that affects the liver.

Can be spread through sex which involves oral to anal contact (rimming).

Use latex dams or cut up condoms when rimming.

Immunisation available, no medicated treatment.

Hepatitis B

Virus that affects the liver.

Easily transmitted via shared toys, oral sex and possibly rimming, sharing needles and razors.

Use latex dams or cut up condoms for oral sex and rimming. Do not share needles and razors.

No specific medical treatment. Healthy diet and rest may help recovery. A vaccine to prevent is available.

Hepatitis C

Virus that affects the liver.

Route into blood stream, easily transmitted via intravenous needles.

Don’t share works (needles, etc).

Antiviral treatment.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

 

 

Wart virus which can lead to cervical cancer or genital warts – different wart strain from those found on the rest of the skin Usually the virus goes away on its own without causing harm. But not always.

Genital to genital contact (unlikely that warts on hands can be transmitted to genitals).

 

Lesbians and bisexual women can transmit HPV through direct genital skin-to-skin contact, touching, or sex toys used with other women

Avoid genital to genital contact.

 

Regular smears to detect any pre-cancer

 

The Pap test checks for abnormal cell growths caused by HPV, this is a DNA test that detects most of the high-risk types of HPV. Lesbians who have had sex with men are also at risk of HPV infection, this is why regular Pap tests are just as important for lesbian and bisexual women as they are for heterosexual women

 

There is no treatment for HPV, but a healthy immune (body defense) system can usually fight off HPV infection. If you do get HPV, there are treatments for diseases caused by it. Genital warts can be removed with medicine you apply yourself or treatments performed by your doctor, or by freezing and burning. Cervical and other cancers caused by HPV are most treatable when found early. There are many options for cancer treatment. Since 2008, two vaccines have protected against the several kinds of HPV that are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer.

Non-specific Urethritis

Inflammation of the urethra, can be caused by bacteria, virus or parasite

Burning sensation when urinating, cloudy white discharge from vagina, urethra or anus.

 

 

Depend on causes, usually antibiotics

Trichomonas Vaginalis (TV):

 

Symptoms include a frothy discharge, discomfort when passing urine (ithching, burning), vulval soreness, and sometimes an unpleasant vaginal odour. Some women don’t have any symptoms.

It can be passed between women during any sexual activity that involves the exchange of vaginal fluid.

Use dental damn.

TV is treated with antibiotics, anti parasitic tablets.

Trichonomiasis

 

 

 

Small parasitic organism causing irritation of the vagina.

 

Symptoms include: Yellow, green, or gray vaginal discharge (often foamy) with a strong odor; Discomfort during sex and when urinating; Irritation and itching of the genital area; Lower abdominal pain.

Sharing toys between partners without use of condoms or cleaning the toys.

 

Touching own genitals then partner’s.

 

You can also get it from contact with damp, moist objects, such as towels or wet clothes.

Use condoms on sex toys.

 

Clean fingers in hot, soapy water before touching self or partner.

 

Keep fingernails short.

 

Use latex gloves and lube.

Tablets by mouth.

Thrush (Candida)

 

 

Vaginal infection causing itchiness and irritation. It is caused by Candida. Symptoms may include vulvae and vaginal itching, swelling, irritation, redness, pain and soreness on penetration, burning when passing urine and a thick, white discharge. It can be painful and uncomfortable to live with.

Sharing toys between partners without use of condoms or cleaning the toys.

 

Touching own genitals then partner’s.

Use condoms on sex toys.

 

Clean fingers in hot, soapy water before touching self or partner.

 

Keep fingernails short.

 

Use latex gloves and lube.

Cream or prescription/over the counter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, check out our page on Clinics, Screenings and Helplines, or through the listing of health organisations on our links page.

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