TALKING about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may not be your favourite thing in the world, but it might just turn out to be the most effective way to protect yourself against them. By discussing them openly with your doctor and sexual partners, you can learn how not to get them. Here are brief descriptions of some of the most common STIs:
This is perhaps the most widespread STI of all. Chlamydia is caused by bacteria and most
frequently passed on during vaginaland anal intercourse. It can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her child during birth. Chlamydia may cause a painful, burning feeling
when urinating, a discharge from the penis or vagina, and tender or painful testicles. In women, typical symptoms include heavy periods, lower abdominal pain, bleeding during or after sex, and bleeding between periods. If left untreated, Chlamydia can lead to serious
problems like infertility. Luckily, once identified, the infection is easily treated using antibiotics. Many doctors recommend that sexually active women aged 25 and younger should go for a chlamydia test once a year.
The herpes simplex virus, which is the cause of cold sores, is also responsible for genital herpes. This STI is characterised by small, but itchy sores and blisters and tends to result
in painful urination. There is no cure for this condition, but the symptoms can be managed successfully with antiviral medication.
These small, fleshy bumps and growths on and around the genitals, scrotum, rectum or anus are a manifestation of the human papilloma virus which can be passed on from one person to another through contact with the skin – no penetrative sex is necessary.
While usually painless, you may experience redness, itching and bleeding. The warts often disappear after some time as your body fights the virus that produces them. Treatments include applying creams, removing them surgically, freezing them off (cryotherapy), or by burning them off (electrocauterisation).
Gonorrhoea is a viral infection of the genitals which may also affect the rectum, eyes and throat. It is transmitted during vaginal, oral and anal sex. Symptoms are very similar to those for chlamydia. Like chlamydia, gonorrhoea tends to be easily treated with antibiotic drugs.
Typically found in the pubic hair (you may see their eggs or the lice themselves) and passed on to others by close genital contact, these irritating creatures cause plenty of itching in uncomfortable places. Pharmacies sell shampoos and creams that will help you get rid of pubic lice.