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Sexual Health: Sexually Transmitted Infections

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Sexually transmitted diseases are a major cause of ill-health, and are currently on the rise in Ireland. When it comes to STIs there is often an attitude of “it won’t happen to me”. The reality is that most new cases of STIs in Ireland are diagnosed in young people.

What is an STI and who can catch one?
Most STIs are infections that pass from person to person through sexual activity without contraception (those super handy condoms again!). You can catch an STI from unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral).

You can't tell by looking at someone if they have an STI.
Even if you are in a faithful relationship for ages, one of you can still have an STI and pass it on. This is because STIs can be dormant (non-active) in your body for a long time before the symptoms appear. If you have an STI it's important that you tell your partner and ex-partners so that they can also get a check-up

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary between STIs and some have no symptoms at all. Where there are symptoms, these may include unusual discharge from the vagina or penis, heavy periods or bleeding between periods, pain or burning sensation when passing urine, rashes, itching or tingling around the genitals or anus.

Worrying symptoms:
If you've had unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) and have any of these symptoms, go for a check up immediately.

  • An unusual discharge/ liquid or smell from your vagina, penis or bum.
  • Blisters, boils, lumps, swelling or itching in or around your vagina, penis or bum.
  • Burning or painful feeling when you pee.
  • Pain during sex.

If you have any worry at all that you might be infected, then get tested! It is always worth going for a regular check-up, say once a year, if you are sexually active, this way you can have total peace of mind! If you are diagnosed with an STI it is important that you DON’T HAVE SEX again until you have completed your treatment and have been given the all-clear by your doctor.

Common Sexually Transmitted Infections
Chlamydia HIV & AIDS
Genital Herpes Non-Specific Urethritis (NSU)
Genital Warts Pubic Lice (Crabs)
Gonorrhoea Syphilis
Hepatitis B Trichomonas

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