11/09/2017 08:12 BST | Updated 11/09/2017 08:12 BST

A Guide To... STIs

Most hot-blooded humans enjoy regular sex and why not? It's fun, promotes intimacy and has some amazing health benefits too!

Love making in general, is a really positive act but the feel-good factor can quickly turn sour if you develop an STI.

With Sexual Health Week upon us, I thought it would be useful to highlight some of the most common sexually transmitted infections and what you can do to treat them.


Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK due mainly to many people being unaware that they have it. Most do not experience symptoms making it very easy to spread, therefore it is very important to regularly visit your sexual health clinic.


When the symptoms are present, they can vary between men and women.

Men can experience pain or burning whilst urinating, cloudy discharge from the tip of their penis, and discomfort in their testes.

Women can experience a similar discomfort when urinating, discharge from their vagina, pain and/or bleeding during or after sex. In addition, may experience heavier periods, or bleeding between their period.


Chlamydia can be diagnosed through a simple urine test, and fortunately can be treated easily with an antibiotic. However, it is important that the infection is identified and treated quickly as it can lead to very serious implications if left untreated, with pelvic infections and infertility.

Genital Warts

Genital warts are the second most common STI and can be identified as small fleshy growths around the genitals or anal area. The warts are generally not painful, however may be itchy and irritable. While condoms are the best preventative method for genital warts because they are spread by skin-to-skin contact the area around the genitals my still become infected.


Currently there are a few treatments readily available to get rid of genital warts including creams and freezing them.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by the same virus that causes cold sores (HPV).


Symptoms can occur a few days after infection and can generally be identified by small uncomfortable blisters or sores which can make urinating uncomfortable. Sometimes very uncomfortable! The blisters tend to last for about 10 days and the first attack is usually the worst. Recurrent bouts are often triggered by low immune system.


Unfortunately, there is currently no complete cure for genital herpes, however the symptoms can thankfully be very effectively managed with anti-viral medications.


Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection which is spread easily through intercourse, the symptoms are very similar to those of chlamydia, however if the person experiences discharge from their penis or vagina it tends to be more copious and can either be yellow or green in colour.

Similarly, to chlamydia symptoms are not always present.


The infection can be identified through a swab or urine test, and can be treated with antibiotics although it is getting harder with time as the bug is developing resistance. It needs to be treated early in order to avoid long term issues and to stop it spreading!


Syphilis is a highly infectious bacterial infection which can occur in stages throughout a person's life. It was absolutely rife in previous centuries, nearly disappeared, but is making a very unwelcome comeback.


The symptoms occur in three worsening stages throughout the individual's life:

1. The early stages cause a painless but infectious sore around the genitals and mouth which can last for up to 6 weeks.

2. The secondary stages can follow which include hair loss, a flu-like illness and a rash which can last a few weeks

3. The late stages of the infection occur many years later and lead to very serious health implications including heart problems, madness, blindness and paralysis - and of course death.


While sometimes difficult to identify, syphilis can be diagnosed by blood test and be treated by antibiotics. If treated early the later stages of syphilis can be prevented.


HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system and is most commonly spread through unprotected sex.


People with HIV appear healthy and do not display any symptoms although when people first become infected with the virus they may experience a flu-like illness with a fever.

HIV infection can lead to AIDS which is where the immune system is no longer able to fight against infections and diseases.


HIV can be identified through a blood or saliva test, however there is currently no cure. Thankfully though it can be very effectively contained through medication enabling people to live a long and otherwise normal life.


This STI is causes by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis which is transmitted through sex, with most people not knowing they have it.


When the symptoms are present, they can vary between men and women.

It is rare for men to experience any symptoms, however they may experience discomfort or burning whilst urinating, some discharge or an inflamed foreskin.

Women can experience a similar discomfort when urinating, a frothy or watery discharge from their vagina or itchiness in the vaginal area.


This STI can be identified through a urine or swab test and can generally be treated with antibiotics.


'Crabs', also known as pubic lice can be easily spread through bodily contact. They are usually found in pubic, underarm and body hair, as well as in beards and sometimes in eyebrows and eyelashes.


The lice crawl from person to person, and can take weeks to become visible. They are usually spotted due to itchiness and in some cases people can find eggs in their hair.


Pubic Lice can usually be treated using creams or shampoos which can be purchased readily from pharmacies.

Sex is great but safe sex is even better! If you're concerned about STI's visit your local sexual health clinic for a screening.

Dr Seth Rankin is founder of London Doctors Clinic, a leading provider of

STI Testing.