STIs are spread in different ways, including unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex, as well as skin-to-skin genital contact. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had sex, how many partners you’ve had or who you have sex with; anyone can get an STI.
To protect yourself from STIs you need to use a condom or female condom every time you have sex. They are the only way you can protect yourself and your partner. Even if you're using another method of contraception, like the pill, to protect against pregnancy, you should still use a condom as well. Condoms are the only method of contraception that protect against both pregnancy and STIs.
If you think you might have an STI, you can get free advice and testing at your nearest Brook service, other young people’s services or GUM or sexual health services. It's really common to feel nervous at the thought of getting tested but don’t worry, most infections are easily treated. Read our page on visiting Brook services to understand more about what might happen when you go for a test. You will probably find that most sexual health clinics work in a similar way.
Signs and symptoms of STIs
STIs don’t always have noticeable symptoms so it can be easy to be in denial and just hope you’ll be ok. But you should always get yourself checked out as soon as possible so that you don’t pass anything on or cause yourself long-term harm. You may also need to consider emergency contraception to protect yourself from pregnancy.
Symptoms of STIs can include:
If you have any questions or worries about STIs, you can always contact Ask Brook via text or webchat. Contacting Ask Brook is confidential. That means we won’t tell anyone you’ve contacted us unless we think you are in really serious danger.