Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
It is not just people who have a lot of sexual partners who get a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Anyone who has sex without a condom, or who may have used a condom incorrectly, can catch an STI. Click here to find out how to use a condom.
STIs can be passed on though vaginal, anal and oral sexual intercourse, as well as through genital contact with someone who is already infected. The most common STIs in the UK are chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea. Other STIs include herpes and genital warts.
Like most other infections, STIs can be avoided fairly easily. The most important preventive technique is to use a condom when you are having any sort of penetrative sex. And if you or your partner have any concerns about STIs – from avoiding them to getting them and treating them - you should talk to a medical professional, preferably one that specialises in STIs and other sexual health concerns.
If you are worried that you might have a Sexually Transmitted Infection you can get free, confidential advice and treatment from your GP or from specialist clinics in your area (even if you're under 16). Most hospitals have special clinics called genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics that give tests and treatment for STIs. Most STIs can be treated easily so don't be scared of having a test and getting a positive result.
If in any doubt, get checked out. Left untreated for a long time some STIs can result in infertility, and other long-lasting physical damage. Click here to find STI testing services near you.
STI testing by post
Then – depending on the test result – you can seek advice about how to treat STIs, including in many cases receiving treatment by post. You will also get advice about how to avoid them in the future.