What Are The Different Kinds Of STIs?

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Genital herpes

Genital herpes can cause sores and blisters around the genitals, as well as flu-like symptoms.

Symptoms: You may have some itching, tingling, inflammation and discomfort in the affected area.

You can also experience general flu-like symptoms such as a backache, headache and a temperature, and mild swelling of the lymph glands in the groin, armpits and neck.

You may then develop multiple spots or red bumps around the genital area, which can break open and form sores or ulcers.

Risks: If you are infected with herpes for the first time during the first 3 months of pregnancy, there is a small risk of miscarriage.

Treatment: Once you have been infected with genital herpes, the virus stays in your body and can cause symptoms to reappear from time to time. These are called 'recurrent episodes'.

These will clear up by themselves without any treatment, but there is also medication to help speed up the healing process. The doctor may prescribe anti-viral tablets to speed up the healing process and help make your symptoms milder.


Genital warts

Genital warts are common and easily caught through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.

Symptoms: Only about 10% of people exposed to the virus will develop genital warts. If they do occur, it can take weeks or months before genital warts begin to appear.

You may notice small, pinkish or white cauliflower-like lumps or warts, appearing singly or in groups around or inside the genital area.

The warts may be itchy but are painless, although they will bleed if scratched.

Risks: If left untreated genital warts may stay the same size, or grow larger in size and number. They will also remain infectious.

Treatment: If you have genital warts, you will usually be prescribed an anti-wart liquid or cream which can be used at home.

Do not use wart-removal preparations that you can buy from the pharmacy. They will not work on genital warts - always consult a doctor or nurse.

Freezing treatments, although not painful, may be uncomfortable, and may go on for several weeks to ensure the complete removal of the warts.


Caused by a type of bacteria (neisseria gonorrhoeae), Gonorrhoea infection usually occurs in the genitals, but can affect the throat, eyes and anus.

Symptoms: Men with gonorrhoea will notice lots of green or yellow fluid coming out of the penis.

This is sometimes accompanied by pain or a burning sensation when peeing or a rash on the head of the penis. There may also be some discomfort and swelling of the testicles.

For women there can be increased discharge from the vagina, pain in the abdomen, or pain when peeing. They may experience bleeding in between periods, after sex, or have irregular or heavy periods.

Risks: For men, untreated gonorrhoea may lead to infection in the scrotum (the pouch of skin that holds the testicles), causing pain and swelling, and in some cases infertility.

Some women who have untreated gonorrhoea may develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), and in some serious cases infection can result in ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

Treatment: Early treatment of gonorrhoea is very simple and usually involves taking a dose of antibiotics.



Chlamydia trachomatis is a common sexually transmitted infection that affects men and women. It is caused by a type of bacteria and can go undetected for a very long time.

Symptoms: Most people with chlamydia don't experience any symptoms, if symptoms are present, these usually include discharge from the penis or vagina, and pain or a burning sensation when peeing.

Women may also experience pain during sex, or bleeding in between periods. Men may notice some discomfort and swelling of the testicles.

Risks: In women, chlamydia may lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or fertility problems (difficulty in becoming pregnant).

If men are not treated, the infection may spread to the testicles and cause discomfort.

Treatment: You will probably be given an antibiotic to take in a single dose, all at once.  Your current and previous partner(s) will be asked to attend for a check-up and to receive treatment.



Hepatitis infections can be hard to spot but can cause lasting damage to the liver.

There are several different types of virus that cause hepatitis, but most of them can be passed on through unprotected sex.

Symptoms: Most people notice no hepatitis symptoms at all. Initial infection can cause mild fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort and yellowing of the skin and eyes. These symptoms can take some weeks to appear.

Risks: Some may develop problems with liver inflammation or liver cancer later in life.

Treatment: As with most viral infections, management depends on rest and good general health measures, while waiting for the infection to subside.

Those who cannot clear infection with Hepatitis B or C by themselves need to see a liver specialist. They may be offered tablets or injections to help the body clear the infection.

Both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccination. Hepatitis A and B vaccination is especially recommended for men who have sex with men, anyone having sex with people from countries where Hepatitis B is more common, and those with multiple sexual partners.

The hepatitis vaccine is freely available in sexual health services.



HIV - the virus that causes AIDS - can't yet be cured, but drugs are available that help people with HIV to live healthier lives.

Symptoms: HIV is impossible to spot without a blood test.


This is because the main symptom of HIV - an inability to fight off other infections - can have many other causes.

For many people there will be no obvious signs that they are infected with HIV and they may not become ill for months or years.


Risks: HIV weakens the body's ability to fight off other diseases and infections. When this happens, the person is said to have developed AIDS. Over time the virus may damage a person's immune system so badly that they may die from other infections or cancers that they can't fight off.

Treatment: Although there is no cure for HIV, there are effective treatments available that allow people with the infection to stay well and to lead healthy lives. They can prevent the infection causing health problems for many years but you need to keep taking them.



Although syphilis can be hard to spot without the right blood test, it's one of the easiest sexually transmitted infections to catch and pass on

Symptoms: Early syphilis can be easy to miss because many people show no sign that they're infected.

A few days after sex a small sore on the penis, the opening of the vagina, anus, mouth or tongue can appear. This is often painless and heals by itself, although it can be painful and look just like genital herpes.

A few days to many weeks later a rash can develop, notably affecting the palms. Mouth ulcers occur. Moist, warty lumps may grow round the anus. People can feel ill and feverish. Rarely, vision and hearing can be affected.

Risks: Later on, syphilis can damage many organs if it remains untreated. The skin, heart, brain, eyes, bones and nervous system can all be affected.

This can lead to mental illness, shooting pain, disfiguring skin lesions, loss of vision and heart disease. Usually this takes twenty years or more.

Treatment: First and second stage syphilis is treated using a 10-14 day course of antibiotics. Penicillin is normally used, though other antibiotics can be used if you are allergic to penicillin.

Late stage (tertiary) syphilis is treated with antibiotic injections.


Trichomonas infection

The infection, caused by a small parasite, can infect the genitals of both men and women.

Symptoms: Almost half of people infected with trichomonas have no symptoms.

But if symptoms are present, these usually include a yellow or green discharge from the penis or vagina, which can sometimes have an unpleasant smell.


You may have pain or a burning sensation when peeing, or itching and soreness in the genital area.

Risks: It can and can lead to infections of the urethra (the passage that carries pee from the bladder) and, in men infection of the prostate gland.

Treatment: Treatment of TV is simple and usually involves taking a dose of antibiotics.

Your partner should also be treated, and you will both usually be asked to return to the clinic for another test a week or so later to check that the infection has been successfully treated.