If you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it’s important to act fast. Even if you’re anxious, it’s vital that you don’t make the mistake of burying your head in the sand and simply hoping the problem will go away. This approach could mean the infection gets worse and ends up putting your long-term health at serious risk. The important thing is not to panic. Most infections can be treated quickly and effectively as long as they are caught in time. To help ensure you know what to do if you suspect you have an STI, take a look at this brief guide.
Get tested ASAP
Fast action is a must if you think you might have an infection. Bear in mind that not all STIs have symptoms, so if you have had unprotected sex with a partner who may have been infected, you should get checked out even if you don’t have symptoms yourself. For example, chlamydia often doesn’t cause any symptoms and around half of women and one in ten men with gonorrhoea don’t have any signs of the infection.
You can go to sexual health clinics for STI testing and tests for conditions such as herpes, chlamydia and warts can be ordered over the web from health specialists.
If your test results are positive, a doctor will talk you through your treatment options. Infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can usually be cured with antibiotics and you may be asked to attend follow-up appointments a week or so after your treatment has been completed to see if the condition has gone. Until you have been given the all-clear, you should avoid having sex.
Tell any partners who may be at risk
Although you may feel embarrassed, it is important that you tell anyone you have had sexual contact with who may also be infected. If you don’t, these people may not realise they are at risk and, as well as not seeking treatment, they might go to infect others. It may not feel like it at the time, but you will be doing people a big favour by making them aware of the danger.
Practice safe sex
Although many STIs can be treated quickly and easily when they are caught in time, realising you have these infections can be a distressing experience. If you’ve been through this process, you won’t want to repeat it. So, to help ensure you avoid these situations in the future, you’ll need to practice safe sex. Using condoms with the CE mark on the packet is the safest and easiest way to reduce the risk of infections. Meanwhile, if you start a relationship with a with new partner, make sure that both of you have the all-clear from STIs before you have unprotected sex.