What Are The Symptoms Of The Most Common STIs?

An STI is an infection that is passed from person to person through sexual contact.

An STI is an infection that is passed from person to person through sexual contact. Many are preventable and most are very treatable but it’s important to know the facts and how to spot some of the symptoms of the most common STIs.

STIs are passed through sexual activity but that does not only pertain to sexual intercourse between a woman and a man. Many STIs can be passed simply from skin to skin contact and through unprotected sexual activity such as oral and anal sex.
STIs can happen in all sexual partnerships including that of same-sex couples.

Your risk of contracting an STI is hugely decreased when you use a condom every time you have sex. It is important to ensure that you are using the condom responsibly and correctly for this to be effective.
The function of a condom is not purely to prevent a pregnancy. It is to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases from one person to another. However, there are many other things that you can do to ensure that you are practising safe sex and avoiding an STI.

If you use sex toys it is important not to share them. If you do choose to share them, they should be washed properly between each use or by using a condom with the sex toy to reduce the chance of an infection spreading.

If you suspect that you or your partner has an infection, it is important to cease sexual activity until the potential infection has been medically addressed and is no longer present.
A good place to start is with an STI test or screening. In many cases, a new couple will both have a standard STI test before pursuing sexual activity. In most cases, an STI won't be present but if one partner is infected it can spread to the other partner very easily through sexual contact.
While an STI test or screening is the only certain way to test for sexually transmitted diseases it is good to look out for common symptoms.
Here are some of the symptoms of the most common STIs however many STIs contain no symptoms at all.

- Chlamydia
This bacterial infection can be difficult to detect in the early stages due to a lack of symptoms however a couple of weeks after you have been exposed to this infection you may notice symptoms such as pain when urinating, excessive discharge from the vagina or penis, pain during sexual intercourse and in the case of women bleeding between periods.
- Gonorrhoea
This infection can present itself in your genital tract, mouth, throat, eyes and anus. Symptoms may not show for several months but can include a thick and bloody discharge from the penis, painful swollen testicles, painful bowel movements and anal itching. Women may also notice heavy bleeding between periods.

- Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a virus that enters the body through any small breaks in the skin. Symptoms can be mild and therefore go unnoticed in one person but seem extreme for the next. It can involve pain, itching and small blisters in the genital area. In some cases, ulcers may appear. These can burst, bleed and become very severe making urination and simple movements very painful.
- Syphilis
This infection affects your genitals, skin and mucous membranes. It can also affect your heart and brain. Congenital syphilis occurs when an infected pregnant woman passes the disease to her unborn infant which can be very serious. Symptoms can involve small painless sores on the genitals, rectum or mouth area. Other symptoms include a fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and soreness in various parts of the body. Without treatment, syphilis can affect internal organs.

HIV is a virus that affects a person’s immune system. It affects your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections which can lead to chronic or life-threatening illnesses further down the line. Many people develop flu-like symptoms in the early stages. This may include a headache, fever or sore throat 2-6 weeks after you have been infected. The only way to test for HIV is to be medically tested though. More serious symptoms and consequences can take several years to surface.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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