It is a really good idea to test for Sexually Transmitted Infections regularly. This means that you are looking after your sexual health. The sooner infections are picked up, the sooner they can be treated and the less likely they are to lead to more serious complications. It is a good idea to have a STI check up every six months or every time you change partners.
If you have been tested and have been given a positive result (meaning that you do have a Sexually Transmitted Infection) it is important to get treated as soon as you can.
Lots of people find getting a positive result is a bit of a shock but there is no reason to panic. Health Professionals at Sexual Health clinics or your own doctor/GP will help you get the right treatment. They will be able to talk through any worries that you may have and answer any questions.
If you have a positive Chlamydia test result (meaning that you do have the infection) you can be treated with antibiotics. These are usually 2 or 4 tablets that you take at once. They can clear the infection in 7 days as long as you don’t have any sexual contact as you may become re-infected in this time. If you are sick within 3 hours of taking the tablets you need to go and get treated again, as they might not have had time to work properly. When a health professional tells you that you have the Chlamydia Infection they will tell you where you need to go for treatment and arrange this for you. Someone from the Chlamydia Screening Team will usually call you a week after you have had treatment to make sure that everything went ok and that you are feeling alright about everything.
If a sexual partner (somebody that you have had sex with) has had a positive Chlamydia test result, it is very likely that you will have the infection. You will be offered treatment before your test results are back, to make sure that the infection is treated as soon as possible.
If you have a positive Gonorrhoea test result (meaning that you do have the Gonorrhoea Infection) you can be treated with antibiotics. This is usually either antibiotic tablets or a single antibiotic injection. When you are contacted with a positive result the health professional will tell you where you need to go for treatment and arrange this for you.
If a sexual partner (somebody that you have had sex with) has had a positive Gonorrhoea test result, it is very likely that you will have the infection. You will be offered treatment before your test results are back, to make sure the infection is treated as soon as possible.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are bactierial infections and can be treated with antibiotics. Other STIs that can be treated with antibiotics are Non-Specific Urethritis, Syphilis and Trichomonas Vagainalis. If you have any of these infections, a Health Professional will tell you what treatment you need and where to go, when they give you your sexual health test results.
Some STIs are viruses. Viruses cannot be cured but can be treated. Some viruses such as Herpes and the Genital Wart virus can hang around in your body without causing you any problems most of the time, but you may experience times where you get genital warts (fleshy lumps) or Herpes sores (painful ulcers). Sexual Health Professionals can treat the symptoms of these STIs when they appear. If you think you have one of these Infections it is very important to have a sexual health check by visiting one of the services listed.
HIV and Hepatitis are viral infections, which can lead to more serious health problems. Undiagnosed and untreated HIV can lead to AIDS, an immuno-deficiency disease. Hepatitis can lead to liver disease. If you do have either of these viruses, your health professional will work closely with you to treat and manage your symptoms throughout the course of your life. There are many different support systems and treatment options for people who do acquire these illnesses, and there are often more treatment options when the disease is caught early. So regular testing is really important.
Some STIs are actually tiny parasitic insects or mites that live in the genital area, skin or public hair. These include scabies and pubic lice. Although these are an itchy nuisance, treatment is usually simple and effective. If you think you may have scabies or public lice it is important to get a sexual health check.
Other common problems
There are some really common conditions that affect the genital area, such as Thrush and Bacterial Vaginosis. Bacterial Vaginosis, affects women only and cannot be spread through sex. Thrush can be spread between partners, but is not actually an STI. Wearing tight clothing around the genitals, or using perfumed products that destroy the natural ‘healthy’ bacteria that live in the genital area, are just some of the many causes that can lead to both conditions. Cystitis is an inflammation of the urethra, which can be caused by the friction of having sex as well as the bacteria that can be around the genitals when you have sex, although it cannot be passed on from one person to another during sex.
Thrush is usually treated with antifungal pills or pessaries and Bacterial Vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotic pills. Sometimes Cystitis can be cleared up with treatments that you can buy from a pharmacy but if it is painful or you are unsure that you have cystitis, it is a good idea to see your doctor, who will give you antibiotics if you need them.
Although finding out that you have an STI can be scary or worrying, it is unlikely to go away without treatment, and you could pass it on to anyone else that you have sex with. You should always get tested if you think that you are at risk as some STIs have no symptoms or may seem to "clear up" for a while after the first signs or symptoms appear. If you have an STI, always make sure that treatment has worked before having sex again so that you don't pass it on to your sexual partner.
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