What Young People Need to Know about STIs
Sexually transmitted infections can be very serious, and yet many young people are often ignorant about the subject despite being sexually active. Sexually transmitted infections are infections that are passed between people during the course of sexual activity such as anal sex, oral sex and vaginal sex. There are a number of different kinds of sexually transmitted infections.
Some people do not suffer from any noticeable symptoms when they contract a sexually transmitted infection, including the great majority of women who are infected with chlamydia. Likewise, 10 percent of men and 50 percent of women often suffer no symptoms from contracting gonorrhoea. However, symptoms of sexually transmitted infections that can be experienced by both sexes include the likes of:
• Pain during urination
• Blisters, spots, lumps or sores near the anus or genitals
• Tiny white dots or black powder in underwear, which can be the eggs or droppings of pubic lice
• Burning, tingling or itching around genitalia
Women can also suffer specific symptoms such as:
• a green or yellow discharge from the vagina
• bleeding after sex or between periods
• pain in the lower abdomen
• smelly discharge
• pain when having sex
Men can also suffer symptoms such as:
• urethra irritation
• penis discharge
Although these symptoms do not always indicate the presence of a sexually transmitted infection, it is a good idea to seek medical help from a doctor or The STI Clinic in order to discover the cause of the symptoms, and to be able to receive treatment.
For instance, thrush can be transmitted without sexual activity, but can result in many symptoms normally connected to sexually transmitted infections such as discharge, itching and soreness. If you do not have symptoms but you believe you may be at risk, and have participated in unprotected sex, it is important to get a check-up. The likes of gonorrhoea and chlamydia can go otherwise undetected, but can result in serious health problems later on, even including infertility in women.
If you are concerned about the state of your sexual health there are a number of options in terms of testing. Many GP surgeries offer STI testing, but there are also sexual health clinics specifically designed for such purposes, as well as community contraceptive clinics and a number of other sexual health services. Chlamydia can be tested for in certain pharmacies and The STI Clinic also offers a range of tests.
The treatment that you may be offered will be very much dependent on the precise nature of the infection that you have contracted. For instance, scabies and pubic lice can normally be dealt with by a lotion or cream, while the likes of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomonas or syphilis can usually be cleared with a short course of antibiotics.
More complex and involved treatments tend to be required for the likes of genital herpes, HIV and hepatitis B and C. You will receive expert advice on your options for treatment, and will have plenty of time in which to ask any questions you may have, about both the condition and the treatment. If you are given antibiotics it is crucial to finish the complete course of tablets in order to fully clear the infection. In the event that you suffer side-effects from the medication, consult your medical practitioner, but do not just cease taking your medication. You may be asked to return to your health provider in order to check that the infection has cleared after completing your course of treatment.
You should refrain from engaging in sexual activity until such time as advised by your health care professional, in order to avoid passing the infection on to any sexual partners. Any recent or current sexual partners should be informed of your diagnosis as they may also require testing and treatment. If you do not wish to do this in person, clinics can often anonymously contact your partners. The great majority of clinics offer a sexual health advisor who will be able to give you more information relating to STIs, ways to avoid being infected in the future, and how to deal with the symptoms – as well as providing free condoms.