What is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?

A Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is an infection (bacterial or viral) that is passed from one person to another through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, by genital contact and through sharing sex toys. 

You don’t need to have lots of sexual partners to get an infection. If you don’t use a condom you are more at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.

Safer sex involves using condoms correctly every time you have sex.

Please see a list of possible STIs below. 

Further informationhttps://www.sexwise.fpa.org.uk/stis/sti-types

How do I protect myself from STIs?

Safer sex involves using condoms correctly every time you have sex. If you don’t use a condom you are more at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.
To protect yourself from STI’s:

  • Use male or female condoms every time you have vaginal or anal sex.
  • If you have oral sex, cover the penis with a condom (flavoured condoms are good for this) or the female genitals and male or female anus with a dental dam (latex or polyurethane square).
  • Avoid sharing sex toys. If you do share them, wash them or cover them with a new condom before anyone else uses them.

 

How will I know if I have an infection?

How will I know if I have an infection?

Not all STI’s have signs and/or symptoms. Sometimes these don’t appear for weeks or months and sometimes they go away, but you can still have an infection and pass it on to someone else.The only way to know if you have a STI is to test.


If you experience any of the following you should seek advice:

  • unusual discharge from the vagina or penis 
  • pain or burning when you pass urine
  • itches, rashes, lumps or blisters around the genitals or anus
  • pain and/or bleeding during sex
  • bleeding between periods (including women who are using hormonal contraception)
  • bleeding after sex
  • pain in the testicles
  •  lower abdominal pain.

How will I be tested for STIs?

Tests for both men and women may include:

  • an examination of your genitals, mouth, anus and skin to look for obvious signs of infection
  • a urine sample
  • a blood test
  •  swabs from the urethra and any sores or blisters
  • swabs from the throat and the rectum

In women the tests might also include:

  • an internal examination
  • swabs from the vagina and cervix