STIs – What You Need to Know

What are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are caused by a bacteria, virus, or parasite that is passed from one person to another during sex or intimate contact.

How does someone get an STI?

Most STIs are passed between sexual partners through unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex or by sharing hands, fingers or sex toys. Some STIs are passed by skin-to-skin contact. Using condoms and other barriers for oral, anal and vaginal sex is a good way to lower the chances of passing many STIs. Find out more about safer sex.

How do I know if I have an STI?

You many not notice any symptoms when you have an STI. Sometimes the symptoms are easy to miss and/or they may last only a short time. Even when you don’t notice any symptoms, you can still pass an STI to a sexual partner. The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested.

What happens if I get an STI?

If you are concerned that you might have an STI, get tested to find out for sure. Some STIs can cause serious health problems if left untreated. If your results come back positive (meaning you have an STI), your health care provider will tell you what kind of treatment you need.  Many STIs can be cured with medication. A few can be managed with medications, but not cured.

***Currently there are significant restrictions to public STI services because of Covid-19. Some STI testing clinics, while closed, may provide services in the case of emergencies. If you have symptoms, don’t ignore them. Contact your nearest clinic and leave a detailed message with your name and contact telephone number so that a staff member can call you back. You can also contact your GP who may provide STI testing services. ***

If you do have an STI, you may be asked about anyone that you have had sex with recently so that they can also be tested and treated if necessary.

What can I do to protect myself and my partners from STIs?

STIs are common infections and if you are sexually active, it is likely that you might have an STI at some time in your life. There are things you can do to lower the chances of getting an STI. Find out more on how to prevent STIs.