The Grown-Up Guide To STIs
The Grown-Up Guide To STIs

The Grown-Up Guide To STIs

According to government data, sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among UK adults. And while they can be a daunting and often worrying topic, it’s important to be informed so that you can enjoy a happy – and healthy – sex life. To help you navigate the various risks and manage the symptoms, we spoke to sex, relationships and sexual health expert Dr Tara Suwinyattichaiporn.
By Georgia Day
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Image: ANASTASIA MIHAYLOVA/STOCKSY UNITED

Chlamydia

What do you need to know? 

“Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK. The tricky thing about it is that a lot of people may not notice the symptoms or may be asymptomatic. For those that experience the symptoms, they may have unusual discharge from the vagina/penis, or a painful feeling when they urinate.”

How is it spread? 

“Chlamydia is easily transmitted through unprotected sex whether it’s vaginal, oral, or anal sex. When one’s genital touches the other, they could be transmitting chlamydia even without penetration.”

How do you deal with it? 

“First, get tested. Whether you have symptoms or not, it’s always safe to get tested for peace of mind and treatment when needed. While it might feel scary to have got chlamydia, know that it’s easy to treat with a set of antibiotics and a solid lesson to always use a condom.”

Gonorrhoea

What do you need to know? 

“Gonorrhoea is easy to spread and can have a detrimental effect on newborn babies if the mother has left it untreated. Similar to chlamydia, the main symptom is unusual discharge from the vagina/penis, in this case it’s greenish and yellow discharge. You may also feel pain while urinating. It’s important to know that at least one in ten affected people are asymptomatic.”

How is it spread? 

“It’s spread the same way as chlamydia, through unprotected sex whether it’s vaginal, oral or anal sex.”

How do you deal with it? 

“Getting tested would be the first task. If you have it, it can be treated with an antibiotic injection but always get medical support and advice.”

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What do you need to know? 

“Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). For instance, one in three men have HPV. While not all strains of HPV are high risk, it’s important to get tested to know and take preventative measures for the dangerous ones, since they can turn into cancer. The hard thing about HPV is most of the times there are no symptoms.”

How is it spread? 

“You can get it through skin-to-skin contact between genitals as well as vaginal, anal and oral sex. According to the NHS, most people will get some type of HPV in their lifetime.”

How do you deal with it? 

“There isn’t a treatment for HPV, but there are lots of strands and only a couple of them can be dangerous. For the HPV viruses that could potentially be dangerous, the best preventative measure is to see your GP and get treatment or change your lifestyle based on whatever they suggest. Make sure you stay up to date with your cervical screening, which is offered to women aged 25 and up.”

Trichomoniasis

What do you need to know? 

“Trichomoniasis is less common but still affects millions of people. It manifests as unusual discharge from the vagina/penis with noticeable unpleasant scent and swelling, itchiness around the vagina, and discomfort while urinating.”

How is it spread? 

“It’s a parasite that’s spread through unprotected sex and the sharing of sex toys without proper cleaning.”

How do you deal with it? 

“It can be treated with a course of antibiotics, which should treat it completely, but of course you can catch it again because it’s an infection. If you continue to have unprotected sex, you may run the chance of contracting it again.”

Genital Herpes

What do you need to know? 

“Genital herpes affects one in four people, according to the WHO. It manifests as little blisters that can burst into open, reddish sores around your genitals, anus or thighs. It can cause pain while urinating and itchiness around the genital.

How is it spread? 

“You can get herpes through unprotected sex whether it’s vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can also be transmitted when cold sores touch the genital or infection on the fingers is passed onto the partner’s genital.”

How do you deal with it? 

“There isn’t a cure for genital herpes, but the infected person can use different treatments to alleviate the symptoms such as antiviral medication, topical creams and lifestyle changes (because stress causes breakouts). Herpes is triggered by stress, so if you live a low stress life, this will help to prevent an outbreak. Outbreaks have the possibility of coming out way more often when you’re stressed out, so managing stress is highly important for people who have genital herpes.”

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DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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