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STI FAQs

STIs are infections that are spread from one person to another, usually during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They’re really common, and lots of people who have them don’t have any symptoms. Without treatment, STIs can lead to serious health problems. But the good news is that getting tested is no big deal, and most STIs are easy to treat. 

Using a condom correctly every time you have sex can help you avoid STIs.  

 STIs can be caught during oral, vaginal or anal sex and some can be passed through sexual touching and skin-to-skin contact. 

If you think you might have an STI, get it checked out as soon as possible. Find a clinic here.

If you’re aged 16 or over you can order a free STI self-testing kit. You can have a kit delivered to your home or to another address. Follow the simple instructions in the kit to take some samples, then return your kit in the pre-paid package. We will then text or call you with your results. 

You can also see your family doctor or contact a Spectrum clinic in your area to have an STI test. If you have a positive test, we’ll discuss how it can be treated. 

If you’re sexually active, it’s a good idea to get tested for STIs every year, even if you feel fine.

It’s also a good idea to get tested if you’re about to start a new relationship, and for your partner to do the same.

If you’ve had unprotected sex, we recommend getting tested. Some STIs have no symptoms so you may not even know you have one unless you get a test. It is also useful to repeat an STI test every 3 months as some STIs have different timeframes as to when they will show up.  

You can order a free STI self-testing kit or contact one of our clinics to arrange a test. 

Yes. Being wet and warm, the mouth provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Infections such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and herpes are examples of STIs which can be caught through oral sex. 

Flavoured condoms and dental dams are designed to help prevent the transmission of STIs through oral sex. 

If you suspect your partner may have had an infection or if you’ve developed a sore throat after oral sex, or if you have unusual mucus / discharge in your mouth, it’s worth visiting your local Spectrum clinic. 

Yes. Certain STIs can cause infertility if left unchecked. Chlamydia and gonorrhea especially can cause scarring and pelvic inflammatory disease. They often have no symptoms, so many people don’t realise when they have them.  

If you are sexually active, you should consider being tested for STIs. 

Most STIs do not have symptoms but can cause long term health problems. Common symptoms which can be diagnosed and treated include: 

  • Discharge through the urethra or vagina, which can be pus-like or watery 
  • Burning sensation on passing urine 
  • Urgency to pass urine and increased frequency. More frequent urination at night time 
  • Ulcer or break in the continuation of the skin or mucus. Can be painful or painless 
  • Swelling in the testes or vulva 
  • Rash which can be red, flat or raised, itchy or non-itchy, painful or painless 
  • Pain on intercourse or ejaculation 
  • Bleeding in between periods and after intercourse 
  • Blood in urine 
  • Difficulty in penetration or pain on penetration 
  • Pain in the vulva, clitoris or testicular area 

Yes. However, you may wish to wait until a lighter flow day or until you have stopped bleeding, as your test results are likely to be more accurate. 

This depends on why you are visiting us. If you are attending for a sexual health screen for possible infections (eg, a chlamydia test) then we will ask for a urine sample, a blood sample and maybe a vaginal, oral and/or anal swab dependent on the type of sex you have. Only samples you consent to give will be taken. 

No, they are taken using a cotton bud and while this be a bit uncomfortable they are not usually painful. 

Most people will receive their results by text message. However, in some cases one of our team may call you to discuss your results. 

It is important you tell your current partners and anyone else you may have had sex with in the last 6 months, as they may have an STI without knowing it. We know you might find this difficult, so we can discuss how to tell them and help you do that. 

Interpreters can be arranged for a clinic appointment or hospital visit if required. If you prefer, you can attend with an English-speaking friend or relative. If you need an interpreter this will be provided free of charge, but we will require a few days to organise one.