STIs can be a very confusing things. There are quite a few to get your head around; some of them have very few symptoms and others have very similar symptoms.

Sex on Female First

Sex on Female First

If you have unsafe sex with a stranger, you might be lucky and get nothing other than another notch on your bedpost. Or you could find yourself with a STI that's completely treatable. Worst-case scenario, you could end up with something that requires medication for throughout the rest of your life.

People like me don't preach about safe sex for nothing- if you don't have sex responsibly, get an STI and leave it untreated, you could become infertile. Heavy stuff, but we feel you need to be prepared.

So we are here to be crystal clear about the symptoms:


This is the most common of all and easily passed between two lovers. Most people get no symptoms at all so they don't even know they have one.

Women- It may cause pain or a burning sensation when you pee, vaginal discharge or pain in the lower abdomen during and or after sex. It is also responsible for bleeding in between periods and heavy periods too.

Men- It can cause a burning sensation when peeing, cloudy or watery discharge from the top of the penis or testicular pain.

Treatment- A swab of the area can be taken or a urine test will determine if you have it or not. It is generally treated effectively with antibiotics. If left untraded it can cause infertility.

Genital Warts

These are small and fleshy growths or bumps in the genital or anal region. They are the second most common STI and are caused by HPV, or Human Papillomavirus. They tend to painless, however may become itchy, red and possibly bleed.

The warts can be passed on just from skin-to-skin contact, so you don't have to have penetrative sex to pass on the infection.

Treatment- Creams and wart freezing are options to get rid of them.

Genital Herpes

This is a common infection that's caused by the herpes simplex virus, which is the same virus that causes cold sores.

You might realise you have it only days after coming into contact with the virus. It is characterised by small, painful blisters or sores that can become itchy and make it sting when you urinate.

After you become infected, the virus remains inactive or dormant for the majority of the time but can reoccur with certain triggers making the blisters come back. They tend to be smaller and less painful the second time around.

Treatment- There is no cure - once you've contracted herpes, you have it for life - however can be controlled with antiviral medicine.


This is a bacterial STI that is passed on through sex. Around 50% of women and 10% of men don't have any symptoms at all.

Women- It can cause pain during urination, vaginal discharge (watery, yellow or green), and lower abdomen pain after or during sex and bleeding after sex and between periods.

Men- A burning section while you pee, discharge from the head of the penis and testicle pain.


It can be diagnosed with a urine test or by taking a swab of the area. It is treated with antibiotics, however can lead to infertility.


This is bacterial infection that causes painless, yet very infectious sores around the genitals and the mouth. It can last up to six weeks before it heals.

Other symptoms include a rash, flu like illness or patchy hair loss.

The remaining symptoms occur years later and can cause serious conditions such as heart problems, paralysis and blindness.

Treatment- A blood test can be used to identify if a person has it or not and is treated with antibiotics and penicillin injections. When it is identified early enough, the later symptoms can be prevented.


HIV is passed on through unprotected sex and can also be transferred through uninfected blood, such as by sharing needles for drug use.

The virus attacks the immune system, making it weaker against infections and disease.

Treatment- There is no cure for it, but treatments will allow someone to live a healthy life.

Aids is the final step of the HIV infection when the body has no longer got any fight left in it against infections.

People who have it look and feel well initially with no symptoms, however in the beginning you may find you experience flu like symptoms such as a fever, a sore throat or rash.

A blood test can be used to identify the infection - a rapid finger prick blood test or saliva sample also.


This is an STI caused by a small parasite that is passed on through sex.

Women- Get frothy yellow, watery vaginal discharge that smells foul, soreness and an itchy vagina or pain while urinating.

Men- Don't get many symptoms, however burning when peeing or an inflamed foreskin is a good indicator.

It is difficult to diagnose so your GP may send you to a specialist clinic for a swab test.

Pubic Lice

These are very easily passed on through genital contact. They are usually found among pubic hair, however have also been located in body hair, underarm hair or in rare cases, eyebrows and eyelashes.

The lice crawl from hair-to-hair and jump from one person to another. The easiest way to tell is by seeing the lice but they can also cause itching.

Treatment- They are treated with cream or shampoos which can be bought over-the-counter- there is no need to shave off your bodily hair.


This is caused by small mites that burrow into your skin. It can be passed on from person-to-person through sexual contact or from infected clothing, bedding or beach towels.

The itching is intense and it gets worse at night. It can occur in your genital area but also between your fingers, on your wrists and ankles, under your arms or on your body or breasts.

It's often thought to be eczema as the mites are barely noticeable.

Treatment- Specialist creams or shampoos over-the-counter tackle the problem; sadly the itching carries on even through treatment- but this is normal.

If you are worried about STIs, contact our HealthClinic.