Sex without using a condom can put you at an increased risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.

On this page, you will find general information about sexually transmitted infections including symptoms, testing and treatment.

Information on Sexually Transmitted Infections

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most common curable sexually transmitted infection in the UK. Many people are asymptomatic and don’t know they carry the infection. For those that do have symptoms, these can include:

For women: bleeding after sex or between periods, abdominal pain, change in discharge or pain when passing urine

For men: pain when passing urine, pain in testicles, discharge from the tip of the penis

It is also possible to have a chlamydia infection in your rectum (bottom), throat and eyes.

Tests can be done by urine test or swabs and the infection is easily treatable with antibiotics.

If untreated, Chlamydia can cause long term problems such as infertility.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection easily passed on during sex. Some people particularly women may have no symptoms, for those that do have symptoms, these can include:

For women: bleeding after sex or between periods, abdominal pain, change in discharge or pain when passing urine

For men: pain when passing urine, pain in testicles, discharge from the tip of the penis

It is also possible to have a gonorrhoea infection in your rectum (bottom), throat and eyes.

Tests can be done by urine test or swabs and the infection is easily treatable with antibiotics.

If untreated, Gonorrhoea can cause long term problems such as infertility.

HIV

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, left undetected and uncontrolled this can mean that your ability to fight infections and diseases will become is reduced.

There is no cure for HIV but it can be managed once diagnosed and you can lead a normal life.

For more information, please click here to view our HIV page.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is passed on during sex and by contact with infectious sores.

The symptoms you can get depend on how long you have carried the infection.

It normally starts with a painless sore that can last for a few weeks.

After this, a rash and flu like illness are the commonest symptoms seen and normally disappear over a few weeks.

Later (normally after a number of years) Syphilis can affect your nervous system and your heart.

The infection can easily be picked up by a blood test and can be easily treated by antibiotics.

Viral Hepatitis

There are a number of viruses that can cause hepatitis, here we look at three that can be sexually transmitted:

Hepatitis A is more common in countries with poor sanitation, but can be caught through sex, mainly by faecal oral contact. Symptoms are rare and most people make a full recovery and develop immunity to the virus.

For those we feel are at risk, (e.g. men who have sex with men) there is a vaccination available.

Hepatitis B is a highly infectious virus that is transmitted during sex and also through sharing injecting equipment. Most people who catch Hepatitis B do not have symptoms but they can take up to 6 months to appear. Having Hepatitis B infection that persists for many years can cause long term damage to your liver. You can test for Hepatitis B with a blood test and if found to be positive, there are treatments available although a lot of the time your body can clear the infection by itself.

For those thought to be at most risk, there is a vaccination available, these include:

-men who have sex with men
-injecting drug users
-people who are paid for sex
-people who have partners who have Hep B
- those who have recently been sexually assaulted

Hepatitis C is common virus worldwide but in most cases, it is harder (but not impossible) to pass on Hepatitis C through sex. People who are HIV positive are more likely to be able to pass and catch Hepatitis C through sex. It is easily passed on when sharing injecting equipment, regardless of your HIV status.

Most people who catch Hepatitis C do not have symptoms but they can take up to 6 months to appear. Your body can clear Hepatitis C on its own but it more commonly causes a chronic infection which  can cause long term damage to your liver. You can test for Hepatitis C with a blood test and if found to be positive, there are treatments available.

Genital Warts

Genital Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and are easily passed on by skin to skin contact (this means you do not have to have penetrative sex to get it). There are many different strains of HPV; the ones that cause warts are different to those that increase your risk of cancers.

Warts are normally painless fleshy lumps that can appear on your genitals and/or around your bottom. There are several treatments available including freezing or creams. Once treated warts can come back, however these can be treated again.

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes is caused by the Herpes simplex virus and easily passed on by skin to skin contact (this means you do not have to have penetrative sex to get it). It’s the same virus that causes cold sores. People can catch the virus but not everyone gets the sores, for those that do it commonly causes small painful blisters and ulcers. Depending on where these are, it can be painful when passing urine or opening your bowels.

After you’ve been infected (whether you’ve had any symptoms or not), the virus becomes dormant (sleeping) for most of the time and may occasionally flare up to form sores or blisters again.

We only test for Herpes if you have symptoms and this is done by a swab.

If you think you may have Herpes and you are pregnant, it is very important that you come to see us as soon as possible.

Trichomonas

Trichomonas is a parasitic infection and is easily passed on through sex but is less well known about than Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea. Up to half of people infected have no symptoms but those that do can have:

In women – change in discharge, itching or pain around the vagina, pain during sex or when passing urine.

In men – discharge from the tip of the penis, itching or pain at the tip of the penis, pain when passing urine, or having to go more often than normal.

Trichomoniasis can be easily treated with antibiotics if found.

Thrush & Bacterial Vaginosis

Thrush is a fungal infection that is not sexually transmitted. It can however develop after sex. It is common for women to experience thrush symptoms even if they haven’t had sex. It is much less common in men.

Symptoms typically include an increased discharge, itching and genital soreness.

Thrush can be treated with antifungal creams or tablets depending on your symptoms and if you are pregnant.

 

Bacterial vaginosis is not an STI but a change in the normal bacteria found inside the vagina. 1 in 3 women will get it at some time in their lives and it is often triggered by bubble baths or shower gels, vaginal douching and change in sexual partner.

Men don’t get BV.

It can occur without causing any obvious symptoms but if you do notice a change these are commonly an increased, watery discharge which often has a strong fishy smell. It does not normally cause itching or soreness.

BV can resolve on its own but if it persists then you can be prescribed antibiotics to help.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female genital tract including the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Common causes of PID are Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea that spread from the cervix up to the upper genital tract. Other causes can be bacteria that normally live in the vagina.

Often symptoms are mild with lower abdominal pain, pain when passing urine and change in your normal bleeding pattern. Sometimes PID can become more severe with severe abdominal pain, fever and nausea and vomiting.

Diagnosis is based on your symptoms and normally following an examination by a doctor or nurse and can be treated with antibiotics.

PID can cause infertility in 1/10 cases, with women who have had a delay in treatment or repeated episodes of PID being most at risk.

Pubic Lice & Scabies

Pubic lice are very small insects that live on coarse body hair. They measure about 2mm across and are just big enough to be seen.

Scabies is caused by a tiny parasitic mites that burrow into skin and lay eggs. They are very small so the rash they cause is often the only thing you can see.

They are both passed between people by close body contact and are not related to poor personal hygiene.

Both often give symptoms of itching, rashes and inflammation of the skin.

Treatment consists of a cream to apply to your whole body, apart from your head, which is left on normally overnight before being washed off. Clothes, towels and bedding should be washed at 60c.

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Opening times for Department of Sexual Health, Salisbury District Hospital (GUM)

  • Monday: 09:00 - 17:00
  • Tuesday: 09:00 - 17:30
  • Wednesday: 09:00 - 16:00
  • Thursday: 09:00 - 17:30
  • Friday: 09:00 - 12:00
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  • Sunday: CLOSED

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