Sexually transmitted infections are becoming increasingly common, especially amongst women aged between 16 and 24. The most common sexually transmitted infections include Chlamydia, genital warts and gonorrhoea. These infections are passed from person to person during unprotected sexual intercourse or intimate sexual contact.
Should I get tested?
You should get tested if you have had unprotected sex or are hoping to conceive a baby. If you have symptoms including abnormal discharge, abnormal bleeding and abdominal pain, you should also consult your GP.
What are the effects of STI’s?
The effects of sexually transmitted infections can potentially be very serious and could even prove fatal so it is important to get yourself tested. Common effects of sexually transmitted infections include:
- Abnormal discharge
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal bleeding
- Abnormal periods (increased pain and heavier periods)
Less common effects may include reduced fertility; Chlamydia can result in infertility if left untreated. More serious infections such as HIV can prove fatal, as the immune system is gradually broken down, causing the body to become vulnerable to more serious health conditions such as cancer and severe infections.
Where can I get tested?
You can visit your GP, local GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic or your community contraceptive clinic; these services are completely free and confidential.
What does the test involve?
The test usually involves a urine sample and an examination of the genital area; swabs will usually be taken from the vagina. The test should not be painful and should last only a few minutes.
How do I make sure I don’t get an STI?
You should always use protection when having sexual intercourse; if you have been with your partner for a long time and you have both been tested for sexually transmitted infections, you may wish to use an alternative form of contraception, but if you are sleeping with somebody you don’t know doesn’t have an infection or you haven’t been tested yourself, you should always use a condom.