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Health Library - Sexual Health

Anytime Doctor has published this health library as a resource to provide an accurate and modern view on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) / Sexually transmitted Diseases (STDs).

We have intentionally not provided details for the symptoms of HIV. The symptoms of HIV are very similar to infections such as tonsillitis, chest infections, common colds etc. If you have these symptoms it is much more likely you have one of these infections than HIV. Anxiety is powerful emotion. If you are worried, the best thing to do is to get the required tests done through Anytime Doctor or within the NHS.


General Information on STDs/STIs

Why are STDs/STIs increasing so rapidly?

We are currently in the grip of an UK epidemic of STDs, new cases of herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, HIV and gonorrhoea are at record levels.

There were 621,300 diagnoses of STDs in 2006, up 70% percent on 1997, of which 376,508 were new infections (Health Protection Agency). NHS GUM clinics cannot cope, there were over 1.8million attendances at NHS GUM clinics in 2006 an increase of 350 percent from 1997 (400,000 attendances).

The Government's Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV is calling for urgent action to tackle this epidemic.

A number of reasons have been put forward as to why STDs are increasing so rapidly:

1Age of first intercourse is decreasing. A 30 year old woman has now potentially been sexually active for 15 years.
2The proportion of men and women who have concurrent relationships (having more than one sexual partner) has increased.
3The proportion of the population who reported two or more partners in the past year and who did not use condoms consistently has increased since 1990 from 13.6% to 15.4% for men and from 7.1% to 10% for women.
4The proportion of men in the United Kingdom who have ever had a homosexual partner in the last five years increased between 1990 and 2000. Unsafe sex in homosexual men has increased, particularly in London.
5Populations are now more mobile nationally and internationally. Certain groups (tourists and professionals business travellers) are at risk. They are separated from their families and social restraints and are more likely to have sexual contact outside a stable relationship.

Common Symptoms for STDs/STIs

The following symptoms could indicate a STD. However, some infections, while still spreadable, may have no symptoms:
ʼn  an unusual vaginal discharge in women

ʼn  a discharge from the urethra (the tube that runs from the bladder to the tip of the penis) in men

ʼn  bleeding after intercourse or between periods in women

ʼn  sores, blisters, warts, rashes, irritation or itching near the genitals or anus

ʼn  pain on passing urine, or needing to pass urine more often

ʼn  pain during sex

ʼn  pelvic or lower abdominal pain


Safer Sex

Anyone who is having sex can pick up a STD. Whether you are young or old, straight or gay, do it once in a while or all night every night, unprotected sex will put you at risk of getting a STD so it makes sense to make your sex safer.

Safer sex is any sex that does not allow an infected person's blood, semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid (precum) or fluid from the vagina to get inside the other person's body.

Use a condom every time you have sex. Only condoms provide 'all-in-one' protection against unintended pregnancy and most STDs, including HIV.

It seems obvious, but the more sexual partners you have the more chance you have of getting an STD - so be careful who you sleep with.

Just because you've been with someone for a while, don't stop using a condom until you've both had a check-up. Some of the most common STDs have no noticeable symptoms. Don't forget to use another form of contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies.

Always carry condoms with you when you go out, not just when you are going to a party or a club. Sex isn't something you always plan in advance.

For more information on sexual health (including HIV), call the Sexual Health Line free (from the UK) on 0800 567 123, textphone (for people with hearing impairments) 0800 521 361.

 

Specific Information on common STDs/STIs


Bacterial Vaginosis
Chlamydia
Genital herpes
Genital Herpes in pregnancy
Genital warts
Gonorrhoea
HIV & AIDS
Non-specific urethritis (NSU)
Pelvic inflammatory disease – PID
Syphilis
Trichomonas
Ureaplasma & Mycoplasma
Viral Hepatitis - Type A
Viral Hepatitis - Type B
Viral Hepatitis - Type C

Chlamydia

What is bacterial chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection of the genitals, anus or throat.

How does someone get infected?
Chlamydia is transmitted by having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom, with someone who has the infection. It is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the UK.

What are the symptoms?
Most women and almost half of men with Chlamydia have no symptoms. A person may have Chlamydia for months or even years without knowing it.

If a woman has symptoms, these may include a change in her vaginal secretions, lower abdominal pain, pain on passing urine or abnormal bleeding from the vagina. Men may have a discharge (extra fluid) from the tip of the penis, pain when passing urine or an irritation inside the penis.

What is the treatment?
Chlamydia is easily cured with an appropriate course of antibiotics. It is important to be treated to prevent complications to yourself and prevent spread of the infection, even if you have no symptoms.

What is the worst thing that can happen, if the Chlamydia is not treated?
In women, Chlamydia may lead to inflammation of the cervix and womb. If left untreated the infection may spread into the fallopian tubes. (The fallopian tubes connect the womb to the ovaries). When this happens it is often called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID may cause the tubes to scar and block-up. Chlamydia is one of the commonest causes of infertility (not being able to get pregnancy). Pregnancy in the tubes (ectopic pregnancy) can also occur as well as chronic pain. Chlamydia in pregnancy can cause problems for both mother and baby. So to avoid these problems prompt treatment is always recommended.

For men things are generally a little less complicated. They may develop chronic irritation in the penis or pain in the testicles. The effect of repeated infection on sperm is not definitely known. However scarring from infection may occur in the testicle.

Rarely, chlamydia may trigger Reiter's disease in both men and women. This means getting arthritis, rash and eye inflammation. Fortunately it is very uncommon.

Do sexual partners need treatment?
Sexual partners who are exposed to Chlamydia by vaginal, oral or anal sex are at high risk of the infection. This means they should be treated regardless of symptoms or test results. All partners in the past 6 months should be tested. Current partners should be tested and treated.

What is the treatment for Chlamydia?
You will generally be given one of two different types of antibiotics and the most important things is to finish them all!

The antibiotic mostly given is Azithromycin. You will be asked to swallow two tablets at once, about 1-2 hours prior to a meal. Make sure you eat something at the right time otherwise you may feel some nausea. Some people may have loose bowels for about 24 hours. The antibiotic will last in your body for at least 3 days.

The other common treatment is doxycycline. It comes as a seven-day course and your treatment may need to be repeated if you miss even one tablet. Also if you go out in the sun make sure you use a sunblock as the medication will make you burn more easily.

When can I start having sex again?
It is very important that you don't have sex at all during your treatment. If you do, and are not fully cured, then the Chlamydia could be passed back and forth between you and your partner. Please do not have sex for seven days after taking the antibiotics.

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