Sex isn't without its share of risks, one of which being infections. While there are protective measures you can take, such as wearing a condom, to stay safe, not everyone is a fan of these. Plus, none of them are 100% effective, so there's still a chance (even if it's a slight one) that you may catch something during intercourse.
Depending on what you pick up, this can be quite a serious issue. Not all STIs are possible to get rid of, while others have some incredibly unpleasant side effects.
Thankfully, a lot of the most common infections are treatable – you just need to know what to do.
This guide is here to fill in any blanks you may have so that if you do catch an STI, the experience will be slightly less stressful.
Not all STIs have symptoms, at least not all the time. Chlamydia is the perfect example of that.
Many people will catch it without knowing because nothing feels different.
Others may present symptoms, but these can sometimes take months to develop, which is a long time for the STI to go untreated.
If you do experience symptoms, such as pain when urinating, it’s essential that you get yourself checked out.
Otherwise, there’s a possibility you may develop conditions that affect your fertility.
The good news is that the antibiotics prescribed for this common STI are highly effective at fighting the infection.
Both azithromycin and doxycycline have a great success rate, as do alternatives like amoxicillin and erythromycin, which you may have to take if pregnant or allergic.
Generally, these treatments need to be taken for up to a week maximum.
However, your doctor may advise a longer course if they believe you’ve developed complications from chlamydia.
Provided you take the antibiotics as prescribed and avoid sex until treatment is over, there’s a good chance you should get the all-clear.
Gonorrhoea is another STI that doesn’t always present symptoms, particularly in women.
They’re more likely than men to have the infection without any obvious signs, which is why regular sexual health screenings are a good idea.
For those who do have symptoms, pain while passing urine is again a common indicator, along with unusual discharge from the genitals.
These generally occur a few weeks after the infection is given to you, although it’s not abnormal for them to appear months later.
Treatment for gonorrhoea is relatively quick and easy.
Typically, all it requires is an injection of ceftriaxone and an azithromycin tablet.
However, due to potentially high levels of antibiotic resistance, as well as possible allergies, what your doctor prescribes may well be different.
Either way, if everything goes plan, this can be a quick one to deal with.
After receiving treatment, you just need to wait until you’re given the all-clear at a second screening before having sex again.
Genital herpes can be an incredibly problematic STI because you can’t get rid of it the way you can some others.
It’s a lifelong condition that prompts repeated outbreaks from time to time, which you’ll want to seek treatment to alleviate.
These outbreaks tend to be more common and severe for the first few years of having the Herpes virus, although some people have delayed or even non-existent symptoms.
This STI generally presents itself as sores around your crotch. Blisters may appear on your genitals, buttocks and/or thighs before filling with fluid and bursting.
They can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful to deal with, but they don’t last forever.
Outbreaks can occur for several reasons, with factors like stress, hormonal changes, or even vigorous sexual activity believed to play a part.
When one happens, the best course of treatment is to take aciclovir or valaciclovir tablets, which you can buy yourself if you look here.
Chemist Click sells both products in several quantities, ranging from enough tablets for one, two, or three outbreaks, to three months’ worth of suppression.
This is ideal if you have half a dozen or more outbreaks a year and wish to reduce their frequency.
The name might make it sound like genital herpes, but the two – whilst similar – are different infections. Whereas the herpes simplex virus causes herpes, the warts are the result of the human papillomavirus.
Given that there are over 150 variants of HPV, what symptoms a person will have when they contract this can differ. One of the most common is warts around the genitals, which may present as a single growth, or a cluster of them.
Pain while urinating, a burning sensation in the infected areas, and flu-like symptoms are also possible with genital warts.
However, you can again have this STI without developing any notable signs, making it hard to identify without a sexual health screening.
How you treat this infection depends on the appearance and placement of the warts. A cream like Aldara might be prescribed if you have larger warts.
Applying this regularly for several weeks (or possibly months) should help your immune system fight the virus and reduce the likelihood of the symptoms returning.
Alternatively, a doctor may turn to surgical removal of the warts or consider freezing them off.
Unfortunately, these procedures can be painful, and there’s never a guarantee of removing the warts permanently.
Much like genital herpes, there is no cure for this STI.
However, treatment can help reduce the likelihood of recurring symptoms, so it’s definitely worth seeking medical assistance.
Syphilis is a highly contagious disease, and unfortunately, it’s one that seems to be on the rise.
While the number of cases might not match diseases like chlamydia, you’re likely to pick up the infection if you’re exposed to it.
This can be a problem because if syphilis goes untreated, it can have life-threatening consequences.
If you’re worried you might have syphilis, getting tested is always advised. This is especially the case if you have small sores and skin growths, generally around the genitals, or a rash on your palms or soles.
These are some of the symptoms of this STI, and they can present themselves alongside flu-like symptoms such as fever and joint pain.
They don’t always appear, though, so if someone you’ve been with reveals they have syphilis, but you’re asymptomatic, you still need to get checked out.
You can’t buy the treatment required to deal with this STI, so you’ll have to see a doctor to get a prescription.
Fortunately, treating syphilis requires less effort than a lot of other infections.
An injection of penicillin in the buttocks should do the trick, although you may require more if you’ve had the STI for several years.
If the infection is so severe that it’s causing brain damage, you could require daily injections for two weeks.
Alternatively, if you’re allergic to penicillin, doxycycline or tetracycline may be prescribed as antibiotic tablets. You’ll need to take these for up to two weeks or four weeks, depending on the severity of the syphilis.
It’s not uncommon for someone who’s sexually active to contract at least one STI during their lifetime. While this might come with the territory though, you should still use protection where possible.
Not all of these infections are easy to deal with, so it’s best to try and avoid catching them in the first place.
It’s not the end of the world if you do pick up something, though. Just speak with a doctor and take the treatments they recommend, so you have the best chance of getting better.
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