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STIs

Symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment options for STIs

The number of cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reported in Europe is increasing every year, with an estimated 17 million new cases per annum in Western Europe. If you engage in unprotected sexual activity, you are putting yourself at risk of potentially contracting an STI.

Bacterial infections are easily treatable with a straightforward course of antibiotic treatment. Even for incurable STIs, such as genital herpes, the outbreaks themselves are easily treatable. To buy a treatment online from euroClinix, you simply need to complete a free online consultation, which is subject to approval from one of our UK registered doctors. The doctor will then be able to recommend the most appropriate treatment for your sexually transmitted infection (STI), which will be sent to you via free next day delivery.

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Gonorrhoea

Please note that we are not offering treatment for gonorrhoea at this time. If you think you may have gonorrhoea, it is important that you visit a Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic as soon as possible. To find your...

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Symptoms

Women

  • Unusual vaginal discharge that is green/yellow and watery
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex, heavier periods

Men

  • White, yellow or green discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Inflammation of the foreskin
  • Pain or tenderness in the testicles

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Genital Warts

Genital warts are one of the most common forms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Europe. They are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and are very infectious. An outbreak of genital warts is characterised by small growths of...

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Symptoms

Women

  • Small, fleshy growths (warts) on:
  • The vulva or inside the vagina
  • On the cervix
  • Around or inside the anus
  • On the upper thighs

Men

  • Small, fleshy growths (warts) on:
  • The penis or scrotum
  • Inside the urethra
  • Around or inside the anus
  • On the upper thighs

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Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK and can be treated and cured fully with a course of antibiotics. Usually diagnosed in younger men and women between the ages of 16 and 25, chlamydia and its...

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Symptoms

Women

  • Cystitis
  • Change in vaginal discharge
  • Mild lower abdominal pain

Men

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Irritation at the tip of the penis (urethra)

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Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a highly contagious and common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus. The virus can be split into two common strains known as HSV-1 and HSV-2, however genital herpes is mainly contracted...

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Symptoms

Women

  • (Primary Infection)
  • Small blisters or ulcers on the genitals, rectum, anus, thighs and cervix
  • Tingling, itching or burning sensation around the sores
  • Pain when urinating
  • Clear, white or pale yellow vagina discharge
  • Cold/flu symptoms e.g. muscle aches, fever and nausea

Men

  • (Primary Infection)
  • Small blisters or ulcers on the genitals, rectum, anus and thighs
  • Tingling, itching or burning sensation around the sores
  • Pain when urinating
  • Cold/flu symptoms e.g. muscle aches, fever and nausea

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Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an extremely common bacterial infection that affects women only. Also known as gardnerella vaginosis, BV can be a discomforting condition caused by a combination of bacteria that occurs in the vagina. Bacterial...

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Symptoms

Women

  • Discharge that is:
  • White or grey in colour
  • Thin or watery
  • Has an unusual smell (strong fishy odor)

Men

  • n/a

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Non-Specific Urethritis

Non-specific urethritis (NSU) is a sexually transmitted infection that most frequently occurs in men, though women can also become infected. It is often spread by other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia. Vigorous sexual...

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Non-specific urethritis (NSU) can affect both men and women and is classified as a bacterial STI. It is most often spread by other STIs, particularly chlamydia. Urethritis occurs when the urethra becomes inflamed, and the term "non-specific" refers to the fact that the direct cause of this particular infection is not yet understood. NSU is easily treated with a course of antibiotics.

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Mycoplasma Genitalium

Mycoplasma genitalium is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection. As a newly discovered STI, it can be difficult to diagnose because it is very similar to gonorrhoea and chlamydia and can occur alongside other STIs. Many women who have had...

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Mycoplasma genitalium is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection, which can be difficult to diagnose. It is usually asymptomatic and can occur in both men and women. If Mycoplasma genitalium is left untreated, it can lead to prostatitis in men and urethritis in women, and even infertility in both sexes. However, it can easily be treated with antibiotics.

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Trichomonas Vaginalis

Trichomoniasis (trich) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by an organism - or parasite – called trichomonas vaginalis that is transferred during unprotected sex. This protozoan primarily affects the urethra and is more...

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Trichomonas vaginalis is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by an organism called a protozoan - or parasite - which is transferred during unprotected sex. This protozoan primarily affects the urethra and is more commonly found in women, though the infection does occur in men. The parasite is similar in size to a white blood cell and is mobile through the vaginal and urethral tissues, which causes tissue ulceration.

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Ureaplasma Urealyticum

Ureaplasma urealyticum is a very common bacterial infection that affects up to 70% of women and men. Though it is mostly spread through sexual contact, ureaplasma urealyticum is not always classified as an STI, and can sometimes be referred to...

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Ureaplasma urealyticum is one of the most common bacterial STIs, affecting almost 70% of both women and men. It can be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, as well as through blood and saliva. It is highly contagious and often does not display any symptoms. If it is not treated with antibiotics, it can lead to infertility.

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What is an STI?

STIs (also referred to as STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases) are sexually transmitted infections that can be classed as either bacterial, viral or parasitic. These infections are spread via close contact during vaginal, anal and oral unprotected sex. Practicing safe sex would significantly decrease the risk of developing any STIs. Parasitic and bacterial STIs can be easily treated with the correct prescription medication, however, viral STIs aren't curable, but can be effectively managed as they usually appear as mild bouts.

Different Types of STIs

Viruses, bacteria or parasites can cause sexually transmitted infections. The most common STIs, however, tend to be bacterial and include infections like gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Viral STIs are also fairly common, especially in the form of genital warts and genital herpes. The majority of STIs are curable and if they can't be cured they can be effectively managed with the help of antiviral or antiretroviral treatments. However, when it comes to STIs, prevention is always better than cure.

Bacterial STIs

These types of infections develop as the result of bacteria that is passed from person to person during sexual contact. They tend to affect areas such as the vagina, urethra, cervix, rectum, mouth and throat of the person that's been infected, but can also spread to areas that are similarly mucosal, such as the eyes. Some more serious bacteria like Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis, can eventually start to spread to the central nervous system if it's not treated in time.

It's very easy for bacterial STIs to spread, because they aren't likely to cause symptoms. This means that people may not realise they are infected and so will be at a high risk of passing on the STI to any new partner.

Common bacterial STIs are:

Bacterial STIs

How are bacterial STIs treated?

Most bacterial STIs can be treated with a single course of antibiotics, however the cause of the infection will have to be established with the help of an STI test first. Syphilis and gonorrhoea tend to be more difficult to treat, particularly syphilis, which can require hospitalisation.

Viral STIs

Viral STIs are infections that are caused by viruses. These viruses mainly pass via sexual intercourse. This may be vaginal, anal or oral, but doesn't just require bodily fluids to pass from one partner to another. Most viral STIs can never be fully cured, but they can be managed to the point where they are hardly noticeable.

Although the most common types of viral infections like genital herpes and warts aren't likely to be dangerous, HIV has the potential to cause very serious complications. Just like bacterial STIs, viral STIs might not be noticeable at first, but genital herpes and warts may start causing visible symptoms such as wart-like mounds in and around the genital area and anus (genital warts) or a blister-like rash accompanied by discomfort (genital herpes). Genital herpes can cause sporadic outbreaks that go away after a while.

Common viral STIs include:

Genital warts on penis
  • Genital herpes (caused by the herpes simplex virus type II)
  • Genital warts (caused by the human papilloma virus HPV)
  • HIV (caused by the human immunodeficiency virus)

How are viral STIs treated?

Genital herpes is generally treated as and when an outbreak happens with the help of antiviral medicines and creams, however, if outbreaks frequently recur, an antiviral medication can be administered as a preventative technique. Genital warts are mostly treated with antiviral creams until the external symptoms of the infection go away. HIV requires more long-term management with the help of antiretroviral treatments.

Parasitic STIs

Parasitic STIs are also passed through direct sexual contact or sometimes simply though direct contact with the genital area affected by the parasite. They tend to be dependent on a human host to survive and are organisms that are so small that an infestation may not become noticeable until much later. Parasites aren't likely to be dangerous and are more likely to cause discomfort, although trichomonas vaginalis can affect long-term reproductive health.

Common parasitic STIs include:

Crab
  • Trichomonas vaginalis (caused by the Trichomoniasis parasite)
  • Crabs (caused by the Pediculosis pubis louse)
  • Scabies (caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mites)
How are parasitic STIs treated?

Parasitic STIs can also be treated with the help of oral antibiotics (trichomonas vaginalis) or creams (scabies) however, crabs is usually treated by shaving the genital area and/or applying insecticide cream, lotions or shampoos.

STI Symptoms

Sexually transmitted infections don't cause symptoms in everybody who has them, which is why they are so easily spread between sexual partners. Just because there is a lack of symptoms it doesn't mean that there is no infection. It's also dangerous to assume that an STI has gone away if the symptoms aren't noticeable any longer. Many sexually transmitted infections can be present and spreading within the body, without causing any immediate uncomfortable effects.

However, should you notice any symptoms that resemble those discussed in more detail below, you should go for an STI test to establish the cause and get the right medication.

Flu-like symptoms

These can include, fever, headaches, sweating, chills, swollen glands or constantly feeling fatigued.

Muscular symptoms

You may experience body aches and pains.

Throat and mouth symptoms

Swollen glands and a persistent sore throat may be signs of an STI.

Gastric symptoms

Abdominal pain may occur.

Gynaecological symptoms

Pain during sex and irritation, soreness or itching in the genital area are signs of an STI. You may notice skin lesions or sores in or around both the vaginal and anus. You may also experience the need to urinate more frequently or a burning sensation during urination. Vaginal discharge that is abnormal in odour or colour may occur.

Flu-like symptoms

Experiencing a fever coupled with aches and pains, headaches, sweating or feeling tired and generally symptoms that are similar to the flu is a possible symptom of an STI.

Muscular symptoms

Muscle tenderness, aches and pains may occur.

Mouth and throat symptoms

Swollen glands, sore throat or an infection of the throat are a possibility.

Symptoms on the skin

Rashes on the skin may occur.

Symptoms affecting genitalia

An unusual penile discharge may mean that you have contracted an STI. You may experience an increased need to urinate, pain while urinating or blood in your urine. Testicular pain may also occur. You could also experience pain during sex or warts, pimples or, blisters, sores or ulcers located around the genitals and anus area.

General STI Symptoms

Click on the relevant area of the body to find out about how it may be affected by an STI.

Common STI symptoms

Below you'll find a clearer indication of the different symptoms experienced by people with some of the most commonly occurring STIs today.

Chlamydia symptoms

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection that is bacterial in nature. More often than not it won't cause any symptoms, which is why it can spread so easily from one person to another. Although chlamydia may not always cause immediate discomfort that warrants treatment, it can eventually cause damage to your reproductive health, which can lead to infertility. These are some of the most common side effects associated with chlamydia, and as you may notice, they are often overlooked because they are similar to other, more general infections:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain in the lower abdomen (women)
  • Vaginal discharge (women)
  • Penile discharge (men)
  • Testicular pain (men)
  • Pain during sex (women)

Gonorrhoea symptoms

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to treat. As with chlamydia, the symptoms aren't always noticeable or may be confused with other infections. Symptoms of gonorrhoea can include:

  • Thick, bloody or cloudy discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Unusual menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods (women)
  • Pain when urinating
  • Swollen testicles (men)
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Anal itching

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a viral STI that can cause sporadic outbreaks of blisters on and around the genital area. Once a person has the virus, it stays in the body and tends to go through phases where it's more active than others. Genital herpes isn't likely to cause complications, but it's a good idea to manage the condition to help deal with any discomfort. Symptoms of genital herpes will usually include:

  • Fever
  • Tingling or burning sensation around the genital area right before blisters start to appear
  • Painful red blisters around the genitals, thighs, buttocks and anus
  • Blisters on the cervix (women)
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Vaginal discharge

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should go to your doctor for a test immediately, as it's important to get treatment as soon as possible.

STI Risk Factors

Sexually transmitted infections are a risk for any sexually active person, but there are certain factors that could increase the chances of contracting one. These factors include the following:

Unprotected sexual intercourse

Protection against STIsHaving unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex is one of the most common ways in which sexually transmitted infections spread. Not using barrier contraception such as a condom during sex can significantly increase your chances of getting a bacterial STI from a partner. For example, if a man with gonorrhoea were to have unprotected sex with a female partner, there is a 70 - 80% chance the infection will be passed on to his partner during vaginal sex.

The risk of STI transmission through unprotected oral sex is lower, but it's still a possibility and therefore the use of condoms or dental dams is always recommended when you perform oral sex on a new partner.

History of STIs

Some STIs can make you more susceptible to other infections; for example, a person with genital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhoea or chlamydia tends to be more vulnerable to contracting a serious STI like HIV. Some STIs, such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, may also be accompanied by other infections such as non-specific urethritis, which can cause serious health complications

Sex with multiple partners

The more partners you have sex with, the greater your risk of exposure to STIs. This is because it is often more difficult to be sure of your partner's sexual history and STI status if the relationship is more casual. However, even if you enter into a monogamous relationship, you can't exclude the risk of STIs completely unless both partners agree to do a test before having unprotected sex.

How STIs spread

Alcohol and drug abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse can make you more likely to make poor decisions because of the effect it can have on your reasoning. Recreational drug use that involves the use of needles is a known risk factor for sexually transmitted infections such as hepatitis C and HIV, which is why you'll be asked during your visit to a sexual health clinic, whether you've injected any illegal substances or if you have had sexual intercourse with someone where this was likely to be the case.

This type of questioning is conducted in the strictest confidence and is just so the clinic know whether to test you for hepatitis C, as it's not a very common infection.

Age

Your age is considered to be a factor that can influence how likely you are to have an STI. This is due to the likelihood that a person will engage in risky sexual behaviour during certain stages of their life. Teenagers and young people tend to be particularly at risk, however research has shown that STIs are increasing in older people, most likely due to a lack of awareness of these infections.

Adolescent girls also tend to be more at risk of contracting STIs because of the constantly changing nature of the maturing cervix cells.

STI Statistics

STIs are increasing every year, with reports of more and more people seeking tests and treatment for these infections. Young people aged 15 to 24 tend to be the group in which sexually transmitted infections are most prevalent, especially bacterial infections like chlamydia.

Overall statistics indicate that STIs are more likely to affect people in deprived areas within large cities, although these infections are still a risk to anyone who is sexually active, regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic circumstances.

STI statistics UK

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is still one of the most common STIs in the UK and it might be even more common than statistics suggest. This is due to its asymptomatic nature, meaning that people do not know they are infected, and so an exact figure of infected individuals is not calculable.

Over the last decade there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people diagnosed, from 60,000 people in 2000 to 160,000 people in 2010. Worryingly, this number is still increasing.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a common bacterial STI, although it's not as prevalent as chlamydia. The number of people with the infection is increasing and there are worries that this could be due to the fact that the bacteria that causes the infection is becoming less responsive to conventional methods of treatment.

The infection tends to be more common in men, however this may be due to the fact that men are more likely to experience symptoms and therefore are more likely to be tested and receive treatment.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a viral infection that is becoming increasingly common. Experts believe this is due to the fact that young people are showing changes in their sexual behaviour. This has lead to an increase in oral sex and a decreased immunity to the HSV-1 virus, which is responsible for cold sores, although genital herpes is still most commonly caused by the HSV-2 virus.

Since the year 2000 there has been a steady increase in the number of people being diagnosed with this infection, from 70,000 in 2000 to 100,000 in 2010.

Genital warts

Genital warts are more common than people realise and the infection is one of the most widespread in the UK. Diagnosis statistics have shown a significant increase in people over the age of 45 over the last decade.

Other STIs

Not many people are aware of bacterial vaginosis, but it is actually quite common and may occur alongside infections like chlamydia. Over the last decade, diagnosed cases of this infection have more than doubled.

Infections like mycoplasma genitalium, ureaplasma urealyticum, trichomonas vaginalis, syphilis and non-specific urethritis have all shown an increase since 2000, but syphilis in particular has recently becoming a matter of concern in the UK due to a rise in the number of cases amongst homosexual men.

Can I buy STI treatment online?

You can buy clinically proven medication for the treatment of STIs from euroClinix. The STIs we provide effective treatment for include gonorrhoea, genital warts, chlamydia, genital herpes, bacterial vaginosis (BV), non-specific urethritis, mycoplasma genitalium, trichomonas vaginalis and ureaplasma urealyticum. For more information on these STIs, please click on the relevant links above. All of our treatments are clinically proven and are specifically tailored to successfully treat each STI they are prescribed for.

It is important to distinguish which STI you are infected with, as symptoms can be applicable to more than one STI. Therefore, STI testing is required before deciding which treatment you require. When you are certain of which STI you have, please refer to the relevant links on this page to discover which treatment you need.

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