Sex is a normal and healthy part of adult life and should be enjoyable and pleasurable for you and your sexual partner. But it can also be a risky endeavour depending on a person’s sexual history and the presence of high risk behaviours.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise and a proportion of people who are infected will have no symptoms at all. As in most areas of life prevention is of course better than cure, but in this case the sooner you are tested and can receive treatment the better the outcome in the long run.

Therefore if you are sexually active, even if you have no symptoms, it is recommended that you undergo regular screening to ensure both your health and that of your sexual partners.

STIs can be passed from one person to another through any form of sexual contact – be that oral, vaginal or anal. They can pass from men to women, women to women and men to men. Particular risk factors include multiple or casual sexual partners and unprotected sexual intercourse.

The majority of STIs can be cured with medication, although we are now seeing the emergence of drug resistant infections – all the more reason for regular screening and prompt treatment. Infections such as HIV, have no cure but can now be successfully treated to prevent any complications.

It is impossible to tell just by looking at someone whether they might have a sexually transmitted infection. So the best way you can protect yourself is by always using barrier contraception (condoms) for forms of any penetrative sex.

As mentioned previously a proportion of people with STIs will have no symptoms at all and if left untreated these can have a significant detrimental impact on your long term health and for women especially fertility.

The following symptoms may indicate the presence of infection and if you are experiencing any of these you should see a doctor promptly for assessment –
● Pain when passing urine
● Passage of discharge from the vagina or penis, may have an offensive odour
● itching , burning or tingling around the genitals
● Blisters, sores, lumps or bumps around the genitals
In women
● Bleeding after sex or between periods
● Pain during sex or pelvic pain