Think you have an STI?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections which are generally picked up through close body contact or sex. They are usually caused by:
- Viruses - Herpes, Hepatitis, HIV, Molluscum contagiosum and genital warts
- Bacteria - Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Non Specific Urethritis and Syphilis
- Parasites - Crabs, Scabies, Trichomonas Vaginalis and Giardia
- Fungi - Thrush
STIs can have a wide variety of symptoms, but sometimes the symptoms are easy to miss or the infection may not have any symptoms at all.
So, if you’re having sex, it’s important that you have regular check ups at your local sexual health clinic (sometimes called GUM Clinics). By regular, we mean once every six months or more often if you’re having sex with a lot of different people.
You can go to any sexual health clinic you want and you can make the appointment yourself, so you don’t need to see your GP first. However, most clinics are very busy, so it might take a while for you to get booked in unless you have symptoms, or you may have to travel to a clinic further from your home.
Unfortunately, many people consider sex and STIs to be a moral issue – something that you should feel ashamed or guilty about and something that should never be spoken about. As a result, a lot of us end up neglecting or avoiding our sexual health.
The problem is that if you don’t take care of your sexual health, it could have a disastrous affect on your whole life. So remember, if you do pick up an STI, don’t feel embarrassed or dirty and don’t think you’re alone. You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last person to get an STI. Just get yourself treated as quickly as you can and if it’s possible, tell people that you’ve had sex with, so that they can get tested and treated (if necessary) too.
In the following pages about different STI's, we refer to Male/Man/Men and Female/Woman/Women gender identity as cisgender. However, we do understand that some trans people may be uncomfortable with these terms as their gender identity and/or gender expression may not reflect cisgender terms. For further information on specific sexual health matters for both trans men or trans women, please follow the links here:
This information is available in our Sex Education booklet.
Our guide to good sexual health for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
A favourite of LGBT Foundation's team which has had several print incarnations. It is our most accessible sexual health resource and ideal for LGB people aged 16 upwards.
It is most common in areas like the throat, vagina, penis, urethra (the tube that runs down the penis) and the arse.read more
There are three areas of the body where Chlamydia usually happens – the bottom, throat, penis or vagina.read more
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common form of vaginal infection, being twice as common as thrush, for which it is often mistaken.read more
Hepatitis can be caused by different things including viruses, long-term alcohol abuse and the use of certain types of drugs.read more
They have six legs and do actually look like crabs, hence the name.read more
Giardia is a parasite, a life form that lives off its host.read more
One type of the virus causes a ‘cold sore’ blister made most annoying by the fact that it generally appears just before we have a hot d...read more
It’s one of the most common STIs in men (or people who have a penis). The exact cause of it is not always known, which is why it’...read more
Lymphogranuloma Venereum (L…
LGV or Lymphogranuloma Venereum, is a particularly nasty form of Chlamydia. What makes it nasty is its ability to infect the lymph nodes in the bod...read more
Human Immunodeficiency Viru…
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus which weakens the immune system and leaves people open to unusual illnesses and cancers that wouldn&r...read more
It can happen all over the body especially around the face, genitals and bottom.read more
The condition used to be relatively common in the UK until the end of the Second World War. Then the widespread availability of antibiotics meant t...read more
However, it can sometimes be picked up whilst having sex, so we thought we’d include it anyway. The infection is caused by a fungus which liv...read more
Trichonomas is caused by a tiny parasite which lives in the vagina and urethra.read more
Warts can occur all over the body, especially on hands and feet, but there are some strains of HPV which only occur in the genital area and it&rsqu...read more
They are a bit like pubic lice except they have eight legs and are related to ticks and spiders.read more