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A sexually transmitted infection (STI), is basically any kind of bacterial or viral infection that can be passed on through unprotected sexual contact. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had sex or how many partners you’ve had; anyone can get an STI.
Below are some common STI symptoms.
This is not an STI but can be caused by one
This is not an STI but can be caused by one.
Pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen could also be for other reasons such as ectopic pregnancy or ovulation
This is not an STI.
You’d be naive to fall into the trap of thinking “I don’t have any symptoms so I must be fine”. STIs don’t work like that unfortunately. Some people won’t ever experience any symptoms, and yet they’re still infected. For others, symptoms can take months to appear. For example:
Not an STI but sex can trigger it.
Not an STI but sex and STIs can trigger it.
Not an STI but STIs can trigger it.
Not an STI but it is more common in women who are sexually active.
Don’t panic, most infections are easily treated and getting tested is free and confidential. You can read more about getting tested here.
If you’ve had unprotected sex, don’t wait and hope for the best, have an STI test as soon as you can – it’s the only way you can be sure. You will also need to consider emergency contraception.
To protect yourself from STIs you need to use a condom or female condom every time you have sex. Condoms are the only method of contraception that protect against both pregnancy and STIs. Even if you’re using another method of contraception, like the pill, to protect against pregnancy, you should still use a condom as well.
Contraception is FREE on the NHS for all ages so you won’t have to pay anything. You can get it from a range of places including Brook services, other young people’s services, GP surgeries, GUM or sexual health clinics and family planning services.
100% FREE & CONFIDENTIAL