With the media endlessly reporting on STI prevalence and antibiotic resistance, you would be forgiven for fretting about contracting a sexually transmitted infection. But are STIs really so scary?
Ideally you should protect yourself from catching anything in the first place, but unfortunately mistakes and accidents happen. If you do start experiencing symptoms such as pain, itching or a rash, it's essential to get yourself tested as soon as possible.
An STI in itself doesn't have to be scary, but the consequences of not getting treated can be. If you are carrying an STI, not only can you pass it in to other people, there is a risk you could develop serious complications, such as infertility.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are very common across the world. They can be caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites. You might believe only other people catch them and that you're not at risk, but anyone who is sexually active can catch an STI, particularly if they don't practice safe sex.
Often it's difficult to tell if someone has an STI, as not all infections produce symptoms. For example, 70-80% of women with chlamydia will not notice anything amiss. In addition, those who do experience symptoms may not do so until several months after they were first infected.
If you are concerned that you might have an STI, it's always a good idea to visit your GP or a sexual health clinic and get tested.
Always remember to use barrier contraception, such as condoms. Though this has been said a million times, there are still people who sometimes get lost in the heat of the moment and decide to risk it anyway. Often they will end up regretting this the next day. Condoms are the only form of contraception that can protect you against STIs.
As long as you are practising safe sex, there's no need to get spooked out about STIs. Many infections are easily diagnosed and treated, although not all can be cured completely, so it's best to avoid infection in the first place. If you do contract an STI, it is vital to contact your sexual partners so they can get tested and treated if needed. Above all, stay safe and avoid a sexual health scare this Halloween!