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How can I tell if I’ve got a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

People who have an STI sometimes get symptoms, which may include itching in the genital area, unusual discharge, pain passing urine, or pain during sex, but often there are no symptoms at all. The only way to be sure is to have a test, at a local Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic or in Marie Stopes Clinics.

Are sexually transmitted infections treatable?

Yes. Most sexually transmitted infections are treatable.

How do they do the tests to find out if you’ve got a sexually transmitted infection?

There are different tests available. A full sexual health check includes an examination of genitals, a urine sample, taking a swab from the genital area and a blood sample. You may also be offered an HIV test but this will only be done if you agree.

I had unprotected sex over a year ago and I’ve never had any symptoms, so it’s not likely I’ve got a sexually transmitted infection, is it?

Sometimes there are no symptoms or they may not appear for months or may disappear when there is still an infection. The only way to be sure is to have a test at a GUM clinic.

Can you get sexually transmitted infections from oral sex?

Yes. Some sexually transmitted infections, including Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhoea, Genital Warts, Hepatitis B + C and HIV, are passed on through oral sex. To reduce the risk of infection, you can use a condom for oral sex. Dental dams (thin squares of latex) can also be used as a barrier during contact between the mouth and the vagina, or the mouth and the anus. Contact your local GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine Clinic) for further details.

Can you get sexually transmitted infections from sharing someone’s towel or sex toys?

It is possible to transmit some infections through sharing towels and sex toys, but as different infections are spread in different ways, we would suggest that you seek specialist advice from a health adviser at a Genito-Urinary Medicine clinic or in Marie Stopes Clinics.

I’ve always used a condom, so does this mean I can’t have a sexually transmitted infection?

Using condoms reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections. However, different infections are spread in different ways, for instance condoms may not prevent the transmission of genital warts if other infected areas come into contact. We would suggest that you seek specialist advice from a health adviser at a GUM clinic or or in Marie Stopes Clinics.