One of the most important things to understand about sexually transmitted infections is the fact that many of them do not cause any visible STI symptoms. For the majority of STIs, it is more than likely that you will not be aware that you have contracted any infection after having unprotected sex.
The asymptomatic nature of many STIs makes them especially dangerous, and it is incorrect to assume that the lack of STI symptoms means that an STI is less harmful. A significant number of infections cause infertility if they are not treated, while other health conditions including epididymitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and cervical cancer are also possible complications brought on by an untreated infection.
Sexually transmitted infections are normally categorised as:
It is primarily bacterial infections that do not show any STI symptoms, while viral STIs are more likely to do so during certain periods – their “active period”. Despite the lack of symptoms, bacterial STIs are usually easily treatable with a course of antibiotics. There is not yet a cure for viral infections, meaning that even though the individual outbreaks can be controlled, the virus will stay dormant in the body.
Symptoms of bacterial STIs
Because many bacterial infections will not show any visible STI symptoms, it’s recommended that you regularly take an STI test, especially if you are engaging in unprotected sex. Below are the most commonly experienced symptoms of bacterial STIs:
- Unusual discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
- Pain during sex
- Pain while urinating, or a the need to urinate more frequently
- Soreness, itching, or general Irritation at the genital or anal area
- Bleeding between periods or after sex
The majority of bacterial STIs are completely curable thanks to a range of antibiotic treatment options, but it is necessary to first take an STI test to confirm that you have contracted an STI with a positive test result. The most common bacterial STI tests we offer include a Chlamydia test or a Gonorrhoea test. Alternatively a Full STI Profile test can help you test for the 8 most common infections at once.
Symptoms of viral STIs
Though viral infections usually do have visible STI symptoms, it is possible that these symptoms will not appear straight away. This is why it is important to take an STI test if you have had unprotected sex. Two of the most prevalent viral sexual infections are genital herpes and genital warts. STI symptoms of these infections can appear weeks or months after the incident of unprotected sex took place, and in some cases it can even take years. In the majority of cases, these viral infections are not curable.
Below are the most commonly experienced symptoms of viral STIs:
- Pain when urinating
- Pain in the abdomen
- Swollen glands
- Sores or ulcers around the genital, anal, or groin area (herpes)
- Patches on the skin, usually reddish or dark in color (herpes)
- The appearance of fleshy growths around the genital area (warts)
- Changes to urine flow caused by internal growths (warts)
A Full STI Profile test is also recommended as it will be able to establish whether you have contracted any other STIs at the same time.