What is an STI?

An STI, or sexually transmitted infection, is an infection that is passed on through unprotected sexual contact.

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had sex or how many partners you’ve had; anyone can get an STI.

What causes an STI?

STIs can be caused by four different types of infection:

Virus - Herpes, Hepatitis, HIV, Genital Warts

Bacteria - Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Shigella, Syphilis

Parasite - Crabs, Scabies, Trichomonas Vaginalis

Fungus – Thrush

Most of the time, you get an STI by having sex with a partner who is infected. Some can be caught through skin to skin contact, like Syphilis and Crabs, whilst others are carried by bodily fluids (cum, pee, blood and saliva). Each STI is different, so for more information, check out their web pages by clicking on the STI.

How do I stop myself from getting an STI?

Condoms are the most effective way to stop yourself from getting an STI, though with some like crabs and scabies, it is possible to get them through skin-to-skin contact, so it is also important to use fingering and fisting gloves, or to put condoms over your fingers.

It is important to change condoms between partners, as it is possible to carry an STI in bodily fluids like vaginal discharge, anal mucus or blood which may be on the outside of the condom.

You can also get STIs by sharing sex toys, so it is important to clean them regularly, and always use a condom over the sex toy, changing it between partners.

Where can I test?

It is possible to get tested for most STIs at a Sexual Health (GUM) clinic or if you identify as a gay, bi or any other man who has sex with men, then you can get tested at LGBT Foundation through our full sexual health screening clinic in partnership with The Northern. For more information on when and where to get tested, visit lgbt.foundation/testing.