WHAT ARE STIs?
Sexual activity often involves getting close to another person. Being close allows infections present in one person to be passed on to the other. You cant be much closer to anyone when you are sexually intimate, so it isnt surprising if germs get spread that way.
There are at least 25 different STIs. What they all have in common is that they can be spread by sex. This means:
WHY ARE STIs IMPORTANT?
Whats special about sexually transmitted infections is that some of them can cause serious and permanent damage to your health if left untreated. Some STIs can make people unable to have children, for instance, so it is important that all STIs are diagnosed by a doctor and treated as soon as possible.
WHO GETS STIs ?
You dont have to be sleeping around to catch an STI, just about everyone who is having sex can get an infection. Even if you and your partner have been faithful to each other for a long time, it is possible that one of you might suddenly discover an infection. This is because some infections can lie dormant in the body and often dont cause symptoms for a long time. Just because one partner finds an infection doesnt have to mean that the other has been unfaithful.
Obviously though, the more partners you have, the greater your chance that one of them will pass on an infection to you.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU MAY BE INFECTED?
If you are infected, you or your partner may develop symptoms such as:
On the other hand, you may have no symptoms at all. In this case you could know, if your partner had an infection and told you about it. This might happen after your partner has attended a GUM clinic and been asked to tell you about it so that you can go too. The clinic may even have given your partner a slip of paper for you to take when you go to the clinic.
Another way to find out if you have an STI is to go to a clinic just for a check up, even if you think you are OK
You need to see a doctor if you think you might have an infection, and expert help is available at any Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinic. They are often called Departments of Genito-Urinary Medicine or G.U.M. Clinics.
Remember that clinics treat all information as EXTREMELY confidential. Unless you give your permission not even your GP will be told that you have been there.
HOW CAN YOU AVOID STIs
There are several things you can do which, together, help to make sex safer. If you want to avoid STIs including AIDS, then you might find the following helpful:
Sex is a normal and healthy part of life but does need thought and preparation.