Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK
It's common because most people (70% of women and 50% of men!) don't get any signs or symptoms of the infection
The problem with Chlamydia is that if it is left untreated it can cause complications, including pelvic infection in women, testicular infection (ball-ache) in men and if it's not treated properly or you keep catching it it can potentially affect fertility (stop you from having children).
Lots of people think if they had an infection they would definitely know but this isn't the way Chlamydia works
Chlamydia is easily passed on from person to person from sexual contact - oral, anal or vaginal sex. You can also catch it from sharing sex toys. Pregnant women can also pass it on to their baby if the baby is born whilst the mum has Chlamydia infection.
The most important thing to know though is that Chlamydia is easy to treat and treatment is free, effective and easy to take
So if you are worried about Chlamydia - do a test - its really easy to do.
If your test is positive and shows that you have Chlamydia infection we will help sort out treatment for you and your sexual partners
Using condoms reduces the risk of catching Chlamydia. Also asking sexual partners when they last had a sexual health check up is a good thing to do - if they haven't been tested recently it may be worth waiting until they have been tested before having sex or stopping using condoms together.
Find our more about Chlamydia here.
Genital herpes is a very common STI that usually causes problem with the skin on or around the genital area. More commonly known as the 'cold sore' virus - lots of people who have herpes (either around the mouth or face or on the genitals) get it very mildly, but for some people it can be painful.
Herpes is easy to treat and clinics can take a swab from the skin to confirm the diagnosis (whilst the infection is present) and provide antiviral tablets to make the symptoms heal quickly.
Find out more information about herpes here.
Genital warts are the most common viral STI. They are caused by a form of the HPV virus and it is caught from skin to skin contact with someone who has the virus. Not everyone who has the virus has genital warts present. The commonest symptom of genital warts are skin lumps present on the genital skin and sometimes around the anus (bum) too.
Most people who have the virus, even those with warts present, will clear the virus over time and for most people, there are no long term health problems associated with genital warts.
Visible warts can be treated easily, either by using a freezing treatment at a sexual health clinic, or by using a special cream prescribed by a doctor
You do not have to have full sex to catch HPV virus.
For more information - look here.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial STI. It can be present in women and men and some symptoms may include vaginal discharge, discharge from the urethra (end of the penis), abnormal bleeding in women (bleeding after sex or between periods) and pain in the pelvic area and testicles in men. However lots of people with this infection may not have any signs or symptoms. You can also catch gonorrhoea in the throat via oral sex and in the anus (bum). If untreated, Gonorrhoea can become very painful and can affect fertility.
A sexual health clinic can diagnose Gonorrhoea and can treat it with antibiotics. The clinic would also talk with you about contacting recent sexual partners- so that they can treatment too.
For more information, look here.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is an infection spread via a number of ways, most commonly through sex or by contact with body fluids such a blood. It can also be passed from mother to baby, usually at birth or via breast milk. HIV affects the body's immune system and if left untreated, can make a person seriously ill. However, there is good treatment for HIV and people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives.
All people attending a sexual health clinic are routinely offered testing for HIV. It is good to know your status - even if you think you are low risk.
Find out more about HIV on the pages of this site - in the HIV section here.
Non-specific urethritis (NSU) is pain or discomfort in the lining of the urethra (tube where the urine comes out). Symptoms of NSU can be a 'tingling', itching or burning feeling when passing urine and other times too. Some men notice some discharge from the end of the penis too - this may be a clear or milky-white colour.
It is possible for women to have NSU too, although it can be more difficult to diagnose.
Chlamydia is a common cause of NSU-type symptoms, but there are other causes too. Find out more here.
Syphilis is not a common STI, however it can cause serious complications if left untreated for women and men. Syphilis often causes no symptoms, or sometimes the symptoms may be missed as they can be quite vague.
Syphilis ia a bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics. Find out more here.
Thrush and Bacterial Vaginosis
'Thrush' (candida) is caused by a yeast infection. It is not a sexually transmitted infection, but sometimes the symptoms can occur after sex. The symptoms can also occur at other times too - even if you're not sexually active. Common symptoms of thrush are a thick, white discharge from the vagina and sometimes itching and soreness to the skin around the vulva and vagina. Men can get thrush too but it is often quite mild. Men may notice an itchy, red rash on the end of their penis (glans) and occasionally in uncircumcised men the foreskin can swell a little and be difficult to retract (pull back). This may feel sore,
Thrush is often a sign that you may be a little bit run down or feeling tired or stressed. It is also more common in people with other long term health conditions such as diabetes, and in pregnant women too.
Thrush is treated with a cream and a tablet- either taken by mouth or put into the vagina at night (pessary). Thrush is not harmful.
Bacterial Vaginosis is a bacterial infection of the vagina only. Men cannot get BV. Sometimes BV has no symptoms, but some women may notice more discharge present, often with an unpleasant smell (odour). It is not an STI, but symptoms can develop after sex. The most common cause of BV is washing too much around the vulval and vaginal area and using lots of products like scented shower gels, feminine 'wipes', bubble baths or scented sanitary products.
BV can sometimes improve or get better by itself, but a woman may need a course of antibiotics if the symptoms are problematic.
Find out more about Thrush and BV here.
Trichomonas or 'TV' as its usually known, is not a common STI. It is a caused by a parasitic infection that lives in the vagina in women and in the urethra (wee tube) in men. Often men have no symptoms of this infection. Women may notice increased vaginal discharge and which may also be sore and itchy, although not always. TV is passed from person to person during unprotected sex (sex without a condom).
TV can be treated with antibiotics.
Find out more information here.
Pubic lice and Scabies
Pubic lice are tiny little parasitic insects that live on course pubic and body hair. They have a crab-like appearance and are often known as 'crabs'. They are approximately 2mm long and lay little eggs in the hair. Pubic lice usually cause itching to the skin around the hair. They are different to headlice 'nits' that live in the hair on the head, but can look similar.
Scabies are tiny parasitic mites, that are smaller than a pin head and burrow into the skin to lay eggs. Scabies is normally itchy and people may notice redness between the fingers and on other parts of the skin where the mite has burrowed.
Pubic lice and scabies are common and are easily passed from person to person from close body contact and sexual contact. Children can get scabies too through close body contact.
Pubic lice and scabies are easily treated with a lotion applied to pubic hair and / or skin.
For more information, click here.