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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

Gonorrhoea

What is Gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection of the genitals, anus (back passage) or throat.

How does someone get infected?
Gonorrhoea is transmitted by having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom, with someone who has the infection.

What are the symptoms?
In men with infection in the penis symptoms usually appear 2 to 7 days after sex. Occasionally it may take 2-6 weeks to appear. Men may have extra fluid (sometimes pus) coming from the inside of the penis. This is called a 'discharge'. There will often also be pain when passing urine or discomfort in the urethra (the tube where you pass urine from).

Surprisingly infections in other places often cause very mild or even no symptoms at all. If gonorrhoea does cause infection in the cervix (neck of the womb) women may complain of a yellow discharge, pain in the area or altered periods. Anal and throat infection may cause some pain but most frequently have no symptoms at all.

Is there any treatment?
Gonorrhoea is reliably and rapidly cured by correct antibiotics. A single tablet or injection is all that is usually required. Some people with gonorrhoea may have another infection called Chlamydia. You should be tested for this and may need another antibiotic.

What are the complications of this infection?
If left untreated, gonorrhoea can be serious in both men and women. In women untreated gonorrhoea may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is when the reproductive organs become infected. PID may cause blockage of the tubes leading to ectopic pregnancies (the pregnancy develops in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus), infertility (when the fallopian tubes become damaged by scar tissue) or chronic pelvic pain. Obviously early treatment is important.

Men may develop inflammation and swelling of the testicles or prostate.

Rarely gonorrhoea may spread via the blood stream to cause severe arthritis and other internal infections.

Do sexual partners need treatment?
Sexual partners exposed by vaginal, oral or anal sex without using a condom are at high risk of infection. This means they should be tested and treated. For this reason we suggest you let recent sexual partners know that they need to have a test for gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea can be tested for in a urine specimen or collection of discharge from the vagina, anus or mouth.

What happens after I've taken the treatment?
After your treatment you will be advised not to have any sexual intercourse AT ALL until you are re-tested to be sure the gonorrhoea is completely cured.
Many people ask if it is safe to have sex with a condom during the week after treatment. Because the infection is so active and because we don't want you to take a second course of medicine, we recommend no sexual intercourse even with a condom. However, masturbation is okay.

You should consider testing for other sexually transmitted infections.

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