Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by bacteria or viruses that can be passed on between individuals during sexual activities. STIs can be transmitted by genital skin-to-skin contact, oral sex, sexual intercourse and in some cases even kissing.
Both bacterial and viral STIs are contracted in similar ways.
Bacterial STIs and associated symptoms can be treated and cured with antibiotics.
Symptoms from viral STIs can be managed, however viruses are not living organisms and antibiotics will not have any therapeutic effect.
Currently, viral STIs can be suppressed but are not fully curable.
Condoms can help prevent STI transmission and should be incorporated properly into healthy sexual practices.
Why is it important to get tested for STIs?
STIs are very common! 376 million new STIs are detected each year. The most common STIs are Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, and Trichomoniasis.
The chances of getting an STI are high. One in two sexually active people will contract an STI by the age of 25.
STIs impact the sexual health of males and females and can impact fertility.
In males, STIs can cause inflammation of the urethra – the tube that urine and sperm pass through. If STIs are untreated, the infection can progress through the male reproductive tract, leading to potential pain, scarring, and fertility problems.
In females, STIs can cause inflammation of the urethra, as well as the cervix – the tissue at the junction of the vagina and uterus. If untreated, the STI can cause infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, commonly referred to as pelvic inflammatory disease.
Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause scarring, chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and cause issues with pregnancy and childbirth.
How do I know I have an STI?
STIs can be symptomatic or asymptomatic. Many STIs are asymptomatic, meaning that the infection does not cause any noticeable symptoms. The lack of noticeable symptoms is a major reason why STIs are continually spread, infecting more than one million people every day!.
If you do have symptoms, they may include:
sores or bumps on the genitals, mouth or rectal area
pain when urinating
unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
unusual vaginal bleeding
pain during sex
sore, swollen lymph nodes, especially in the groin
pain in the lower abdomen
rash on the body, hands or feet