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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are any kind of bacterial or viral infection that can be passed on through unprotected sexual contact. They can have a number of signs and symptoms however some STIs have no symptoms, and if left untreated can lead to infertility.
If you’ve had unprotected sex, after two weeks you should have an STI test (waiting two weeks will provide a more accurate result). You will also need to consider emergency contraception (you will need to seek help before 5 days after unprotected sex).
If you are worried that you might have a STI, you may be able to get a free STI kit sent to your home, but this will depend on where you live.
Each STI kit will be different as it will depend on what is available in your area. Some may only provide Chlamydia testing, whilst others may offer Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, HIV and Syphilis tests. More details about the STI kit should be found on the local website.
If you’d prefer to speak to a nurse or doctor you can get free advice and testing from Brook services, local sexual health services (GUM clinics), young people’s services or your GP. Find your nearest using our find a service tool.
Contraception and sexual health services such as Brook are free and confidential, including for people under the age of 16. Health professionals work to strict guidelines and won’t tell anyone else about your visit unless they believe you’re at serious risk of immediate harm. Find out more about Brook’s confidentiality policy.
Most STIs can be easily treated with antibiotics. If you test positive, you should contact your local clinic, they will encourage you to talk to your recent partners so they can be tested as well. The clinic will help you find the best way to talk to other people if you need to, and can notify even contact them for you through ‘partner notification’ and not even mention your name.
STIs can be treated as below:
Most antibiotics are safe to use with hormonal contraception (like the pill, patch, injection or implant) but talk to the person prescribing the treatment to make sure.
Tell the nurse or doctor if you are pregnant or think you may be, or if you are breastfeeding. This will affect the type of antibiotic you are given.
Side effects of antibiotics are usually very mild but may include stomach ache, diarrhoea, feeling sick and thrush.
Don’t pass it on
You should also avoid having sex until you have been given the all-clear, to prevent you being re-infected or passing the infection on.
Not an STI but STIs can trigger it.
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