Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's)

STDs Sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) or sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) are diseases and infections that are spread through sexual intercourse and other sex acts. It is best to try to prevent STD’s altogether. You can do this by practicing safe sex methods like using a condom, having regular check-ups, and avoiding unprotected sex. Some STD’s are symptomless so if you have had unprotected sex in the past it is important to get checked. If you have some symptoms and suspect that you have an STD you should visit a sexual health clinic as a GP is likely to refer you to one anyway. If you are apprehensive about visiting a sexual health clinic you can order an at-home testing kit. Be aware that these kits do not screen for all STD’s.



What Should I do if I think I’ve got an STI?


There are more than 30 STD’s; a few of the most-well known are discussed below:



Chlamydia NHS

Chlamydia is a very common STI in the UK. It is recommended to test for chlamydia if you have unprotected sex with any new partner. For women, symptoms include unusual discharge from the vagina or anus, pain in the stomach, bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex, and pain when peeing. For men, symptoms may include unusual discharge from the penis or anus, swelling in the testicles, and pain when peeing. There can be serious complications of chlamydia if it is left untreated. It can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women. In men, the infection may spread to the testicles and cause epididymitis (inflammation of the testicles). It is easily treated with antibiotics.



Genital Herpes NHS

Herpes is a very contagious virus that is distinctive for causing sores and blisters around the mouth and genitals. It is passed through skin to skin contact with someone who has an outbreak of these sores. There is no cure and the sores will clear up on their own, but you may have future outbreaks and need ongoing treatments like creams for the pain and antiviral medicines. A herpes outbreak can be treated at home by bathing in salt water and applying a wrapped ice pack to affected areas. The virus that causes herpes is called herpes simplex and it will stay in your body once caught. You can avoid bringing on new outbreaks by managing stress, reducing friction in the genital area, and avoiding ultraviolet light.




Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that damages your immune system leaving you less able to fight off infections and disease. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the term used to refer to a collection of potentially fatal illnesses that occur when your immune system has been damaged by the HIV virus. In short, if you acquire HIV (the virus) that may lead to the development of AIDS (a syndrome). After an initial flu-like spell, HIV may not cause any symptoms for many years. Regular check-ups are advised for high-risk groups. The only way to know if you have HIV is through testing and you must do this as soon as you suspect you have HIV. Early intervention is essential for improving your outcomes.


Further advice and information can be found in the resources below.

(For a sexual health clinic directory please see: General, Sexual Health, Sexual Health Clinic Directory)

SASH – Support and Advice on Sexual Health

Metro – Sexual Health Services


Your Sexual Health Matters

British Association for Sexual Health and HIV

Fumble UK – Sex Education for Young People

Getting it on – Sex Education for Teens

Terrence Higgins Trust – UK’s Leading HIV and Sexual Health Charity

LGBT Foundation – Sexual Health

National AIDs Trust

Sexual Health Information and Support Services NHS

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) NHS


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