What is an ‘STI’?

STI stands for Sexually Transmissible Infections.

STIs are sicknesses you can catch when you have sex.


How do I get an STI?


STI germs live on the skin, in the blood or in sexual fluids like semen, vaginal fluid

You can get an STI by having sex (vaginal, anal or oral sex) or touching genitals.

You can get an STI if you do not use a condom.

What do STIs do to the body?


For women STIs can cause:

  • bad stomach pain
  • a discharge from the vagina
  • spots near the vagina
  • a baby to grow outside the womb
  • the woman to have her baby too early (miscarriage)
  • the baby to be very sick

For men STIs can:

  • stop the man having children
  • cause a discharge from the penis
  • leave spots on the penis
  • cause a burning pain when you pass urine (have a piss)

How do I know if I have an STI?


Many people don’t know they have an STI because they look and feel well and have no signs or symptoms. The only way to be sure is to have a test.  There are different tests for different STIs. The tests are:

  • your urine is tested
  • your blood is tested
  • your genitals are swabbed for infections

You might need to have just one test or all three tests. Your doctor will tell you which tests you should have.

Can STIs be treated or cured?


Some STIs can be cured quickly and easily with medicine. Some can be treated but not cured.

You can get an STI again even after the medicine is finished and the STI is cured.

When should I get tested?


You should have STI tests if:

  • you have sex (including vaginal, oral or anal sex) without a condom
  • you have any symptoms
  • you are worried about your sexual health
  • you think you may have an STI
  • your condom broke or it fell off during sex
  • you or your partner has sex with another person
  • you or your partner had sex with other people in the past
  • you share needles, syringes, spoons to inject drugs
  • you start a new sexual relationship

What is an STI test?


  • They are quick, painless and usually free. The tests are different for men and women. The doctor or nurse will take a small amount of body fluid for example, urine (pee), saliva (spit), vaginal fluid, or blood. Some tests you can do by yourself.It takes 1 or 2 weeks to get the test results.

My test was ‘positive’. What can I do?


A ‘positive’ test result means you have an STI. The doctor will give you medicine that is quick and easy to use.

Remember, some STIs can be treated but not cured.

Do I have to tell anyone I have an STI?


You should tell your sex partner, and your sex partner should also have a test. If your sex partner is not tested and doesn’t take the medicine, you could keep giving the STI to each other.

If you cannot tell your sex partner, ask your doctor or nurse to tell them. They will not tell your sex partner about you. This is called ‘contact tracing’.

You do not have to tell your

  • boss
  • workmates
  • friends
  • family

How can I make sure I don’t give an STI to someone else?


  • do not have sex until you and your sex partner have finished the medicine
  • use a condom

How can I avoid getting an STI?


The best way to avoid getting an STI is to use a condom every time you have sex.

More information