Sexually transmitted infections are increasingly common, especially amongst teenagers; people aged between 16 and 24 account for over half of the 400,000 cases of sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in the UK each year. Sexually transmitted infections are conditions which are spread through intimate sexual contact or unprotected sexual intercourse.
The most common sexually transmitted infections include Chlamydia and genital warts; both conditions are becoming increasingly common amongst people aged between 16 and 24.
Symptoms of STIs
Each condition may have its own set of symptoms but there are some general signs to look out for; if you are suffering with any of these symptoms you should arrange to see your GP or have an STI test. Symptoms include:
- Abnormal bleeding
- Abnormal discharge
- Itching and swelling
- Change in physical appearance (inflammation or development of warts, spots or lumps)
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during urination
- Abdominal pain
Chlamydia usually has no symptoms so it is important to get tested; it can cause infertility if left untreated.
Most infections are easily treated using antibiotics but if they are left to develop they may become more difficult to treat.
You should get tested if you’ve had unprotected sexual intercourse or sexual contact or you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above. You can get tested at your local GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic, community sexual health clinics and at your GP’s surgery.
In order to prevent the spread of STIs you should use protection during sex; if you have a long term partner and you want to stop using condoms make sure you both have an STI test to confirm that neither of you have an infection. Condoms are the only contraceptive measure that protects against sexually transmitted infections.