STI Testing

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be passed on from one person to another when having unprotected sex or through genital touching. Unprotected sex might have happened because you’ve forgotten or chosen not to use a condom or the condom might not have worked (for example it slipped off or got damaged during sex). If you’ve had unprotected sex, you might have an STI and not know it because some people with STIs don’t experience any symptoms. Most STIs are easy and painless to get treat if you find out about them quickly. But if you leave them, they can get serious and can even make you infertile.

Symptoms Of STI

The symptoms of sexually transmitted infections vary from person to person and many people will notice no symptoms at all. If you don’t have symptoms, the STD can still cause you health problems and you can pass it on to others. Common symptoms include: –

  • Unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or anus
  • Pain during sex or urination
  • Sores, blisters, ulcers, warts or rashes in the genital area
  • Itchiness or irritation usually localised to the urethra
  • Abnormal or unusual vaginal bleeding, especially after having sex
  • Pain in the scrotum or testicles
  • Lumps and bumps on the genitals
  • Swelling of the glands in your groin

 

Due to the fact that many people will notice no symptoms at all, the only way to truly know you have an STD is through testing.

STIs are very common and rates in the UK continue to rise for a number of reasons, most notably due to government budget cuts and closures to many public health services in the UK.

If you have unprotected sex with someone without using a condom, then you’re at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

Due to the fact that many STIs show no symptoms, it’s quite common for people to pass on a sexually transmitted infection without knowing they have one themselves.

For this reason it’s important to get tested regularly and always use a condom if you’re having sex with someone in a new relationship.

At Home STI Tests

You can now order confidential STI test kit by post for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, HIV and Syphilis if you live within one of our service areas, are over 16 and don’t have any symptoms.

Health Speacialist Advice

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can only be passed on through sexual contact with an infected individual. It rarely causes symptoms, but can be passed on months and sometimes years after the person was initially infected, which further aides its spread.

Despite its prevalence and contagious nature chlamydia is not considered a serious condition and can be treated early with a special course of antibiotics. However, if the condition is left untreated it can cause a range of complications including infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease. For this reason it’s important to get tested regularly.

If you’ve had unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia then the chances are that you have it to. If you have it then you’ll pass it on to any future sexual partners that you have.

Chlamydia Symptoms

Most people have no symptoms of chlamydia and completing an STD test is often the first indication that they have of the condition. However, some people develop symptoms which include:-

  • Pain when urinating
  • Vaginal or penile discharge
  • Stomach pain and bleeding during or after sex
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pain and swelling of the testicles

If you experience any of these symptoms then our all-inclusive packages, chlamydia home tests or clinic appointments will help you properly identify the cause.

How common is chlamydia?

With over 200,000 people testing positive for chlamydia in 2013, it is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK. It is most prevalent amongst teenagers and young adults, with 7 out of 10 who contract the infection being aged under 25 years old. As the STI often has no symptoms, many people with the condition don’t know they have it and are therefore more likely to pass it on. If you’ve had unprotected sex with someone you don’t know, then you should book a private chlamydia test or chlamydia home test today.

How can you catch chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is spread by sex or contact with an infected person’s genital fluids, including semen or vaginal fluid. There are a range of ways that this can be passed between one person to another: –

The most common cause is unprotected vaginal sex with an infected individual.

Sharing sex toys can also cause the spread of chlamydia and a condom should be used to prevent this when sharing sex toys.

Genital contact without penetration may cause the condition to spread, even without orgasm or ejaculation.

In rare instances the disease can be passed into the eye if contact is made with semen or vaginal fluid.

Measures to protect yourself against chlamydia

Sleeping with multiple sexual partners is a risk factor of chlamydia and if you’re engaging in a one night stand it’s important that you use protection. The proper use of condoms will dramatically reduce your risk of contracting chlamydia. However, condoms are never 100% guaranteed to prevent STDs. If you’ve had more than one sexual partner in the last six months or have had a one night stand you should book a private chlamydia test to be on the safe side.

There are also other measures that should be taken to ensure that you don’t contract chlamydia, including not sharing sex toys and using a condom or dam when performing oral sex.

What chlamydia testing options are available?

Your Sexual Health offer a range of private chlamydia testing and STD testing packages that can be administered in one of our many clinics across the UK. All you have to do is select the test that you require and book an appointment to leave your sample.

We also have a range of chlamydia home tests in which we post you the container so that all have to do is deposit your sample in your provided pre-paid return envelope. We also offer a chlamydia and gonorrhoea test, which combines testing for the two most common STDs in the UK. Find out more about our private chlamydia testing options on our tests page.

What is gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria, also known as gonococcus. The condition was formerly known as ‘The clap’ and many people still call it by its old name, although it’s not clear how this name originated.

The condition is especially prevalent in both men and women aged between 15 and 24 years old and if you’ve had sex with someone who is infected then you could be at risk. Symptoms of the disease include vaginal or penile discharge although the only way to know that you have the condition is by getting tested.

Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics, however if left untreated it can cause complications to pregnancy as well as a range of other long term health issues, including pelvic inflammatory disease and possible infertility.

Gonorrhoea symptoms

Symptoms of gonorrhoea differ between men and women, however one in ten infected men don’t exhibit any symptoms, whilst half of all women who have the condition don’t experience any symptoms.

Symptoms in women

  • The symptoms of gonorrhoea in women include: –
  • An unusual vaginal discharge, green or yellowy in colour and is thin or watery
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • A less common symptom is bleeding between periods, heavier periods or bleeding after sex

Symptoms in Men

  • The symptoms in men include: –
  • Discharge at the tip of the penis, which may be white, green or yellow
  • Pain and burning sensation during urination
  • Inflamed foreskin
  • Pain in the testicles, although this is a rare symptom

How common is gonorrhoea?

Gonorhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK after chlamydia and anyone who is sexually active can catch the condition. There were 35,000 cases reported in England during 2014 and the majority of these were young men and women who were under the age of 25.

How can you catch gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is passed between people with the spread of the gonococcus bacteria.  The bacteria is mainly contained in vaginal fluid or in discharge from the penis and can be passed from an infected person by having unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex. You can also get the condition by sharing vibrators or other sex toys that haven’t been washed or protected with a clean condom between uses.

How to protect yourself from gonorrhoea?

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting gonorrhoea, however there are ways of significantly reducing your risk of catching the STI. These include: –

Using male condoms or female condoms during vaginal sex and using male condoms during anal sex

Using a condom to cover the penis during oral sex or a latex plastic square to cover the female genitals

Not sharing sex toys

If you do share sex toys you should cover it with a new condom after each person uses it

What tests are available for gonorrhoea?

There are a range of private STI tests available which can detect gonorrhoea, including individual tests which diagnose one condition and profile tests which can diagnose a range of conditions at the same time. The gonorrhoea test is grouped with chlamydia and uses a urine sample to give you accurate laboratory results using the latest PCR detection methods.

All private STI tests from Your Sexual Health are available at a range of clinic locations across the country where you simply book an appointment that suits you and turn up to deposit your sample. We also offer postal tests in which we post containers to your door for you to deposit your sample and return it to our labs in a prepaid envelope or home visits in which our mobile clinicians visit an address that suits you.

How do you treat gonorrhoea?

Although the symptoms of gonorrhoea can be quite unpleasant, it is treated using antibiotics. In most cases the treatment is an antibiotic injection in the buttocks or thigh followed by a single dose of an oral antibiotic. It may be possible to have two antibiotic tablets in some instances rather than an injection.

The symptoms will usually improve within a few days, although it may take up to two weeks for any pain that you experienced in the pelvic area to disappear. You’ll usually have to have another STI test two weeks later to ensure that the condition is clear. You should refrain from having sex, either protected or unprotected until you know that you are clear.

Any sexual partners that you’ve had should also be notified so that they can get tested as they are at risk of having the condition.

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is most commonly contracted by having sex with someone who already has the infection. It can be cured relatively easy with a short course of antibiotics, however if it goes unnoticed and untreated it can spread in the form of “tertiary syphilis” and affect you later on in life.

What are the symptoms of syphilis?

Primary syphilis

  • The symptoms of syphilis can be separated into three stages, the first symptoms develop two to three weeks after infection. This stage of infection is known as “primary syphilis” and the first signs are: –
  • A small painless sore or ulcer called a chancre that can often go unnoticed. Most patients have just one chancre, but others may have multiple.
  • It will typically be on the penis, vagina or anus, although they have been known to develop on the mouth or lips.
  • You may also have swollen glands in your neck, groin or armpit indicating infection without many other symptoms.
  • These symptoms will usually pass within two to eight weeks, but if they go unnoticed then the condition will progress to secondary syphilis.

Secondary syphilis

  • Once your initial symptoms have passed you may develop further symptoms a number of weeks down the line. This phase is known as “secondary syphilis” and the main symptoms are: –
  • A blotchy red rash which may appear anywhere on the body, but is most common on the soles of the feet or palms of the hand.
  • Small skin growths that look similar to genital warts appearing predominantly around the anus, but sometimes on the vulva for women.
  • White patches in the mouth.
  • Flu-like symptoms, including joint pains, fever, fatigue and headaches.
  • Swollen glands indicating the presence of an infection.
  • One occasional symptom could be patchy hair loss.
  • These can come and go for a period of months before they disappear. Some people may not notice any symptoms following the primary phase, but are still infected and can pass the condition to other people.

Tertiary syphilis

If the symptoms of syphilis pass without treatment then the condition can last for decades without causing any further symptoms. However it can spread to parts of the body, including the nerves or brain which is known as “tertiary syphilis”. It is not usually contagious at this stage.

People with tertiary syphilis can experience a range of serious health complications, including: –

  • Meningitis
  • Strokes
  • Dementia symptoms
  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Numbness
  • Vision problems
  • Heart problems

Even at this stage Syphilis is still treatable with antibiotics, but the effects are much harder to reverse that in the early stages.

How is it contracted?

Syphilis is usually spread through close contact with an infected sore during vaginal, anal or oral sex. However, syphilis can also be spread by sharing sex toys with someone who is infected. It is also possible to contract the condition by sharing needles or from blood transfusions, but this is very rare.

What private syphilis test options are available?

Here at Your Sexual Health we have a range of private STD tests which can be used to diagnose syphilis. They include our individual syphilis test, which is accurate from 21 days following the contraction of the condition. It uses a blood sample to detect antibodies present in your blood. We also offer a range of profile STD tests, many of which can diagnose syphilis as well as many other conditions using the same sample.

As well as offering a range of tests, we have also made our testing service more convenient than ever by offering our new home visits service. This allows you to be tested confidentially for a range of conditions in your own home or any UK address. Our other services include clinic tests at a range of towns and cities across the UK, whilst we also offer postal syphilis test kits where you send your sample direct to our laboratory.

How is syphilis treated?

Following diagnosis of the condition syphilis is treated one of two ways. One way is through an injection of antibiotics into the buttocks. This can be administered once or up to three times at weekly intervals depending how long you may have had the condition. The other way to treat the condition is through a course of anti-biotic tablets which usually lasts two or four weeks. Luckily, Your Sexual Health offer a prescription service or onward referral meaning that you can get the treatment that you require in a timely manner.

How can you prevent syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that is passed from infected individuals during sex meaning that anyone who has sex with an infected person is at risk. As with any sexually transmitted disease though, practising safe sex will reduce your chance of contracting the condition. The following methods will reduce the risk involved: –

  • Use a condom – whether male or female, the use of a condom for vaginal, oral and anal sex will reduce your chance of getting infected.
  • Use a dental dam during oral sex.
  • Avoid sharing sex toys or wash and cover them with a condom before each use.

How common is the condition?

Like many STDs in the UK, syphilis is currently on the rise with cases jumping by 76% between 2012 and 2015. That said, it’s not the most common sexually transmitted disease. In 2015 there were 5,228 cases reported in the UK.

What is HIV?

HIV, also known as human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that affects a person’s immune system and reduces their ability to fend off serious infections and disease. If it is not diagnosed or treated it can progress to become AIDS, a condition where the body completely loses its ability to fend off life-threatening infections.

How is HIV contracted?

It can be passed from person to person in a number of different ways. The most common cause is when someone has sex with an infected individual without a condom. HIV is a virus that is contained in the bodily fluids of an infected individual, but only certain kinds of bodily fluid contain enough of the virus to infect someone. These include: –

  • Blood
  • Seminal fluid
  • Vaginal Fluid
  • Anal Mucus
  • Breast Milk

Anal and vaginal sex are the most common ways to pass on HIV, with the NHS reporting that this accounts for 95% of all cases in the UK. However, it is also possible in rare circumstances to pass the virus on via oral sex.

What are the private HIV test options?

Although you may be able to work out if you are at risk of having contracted HIV, testing is the only way to be 100% sure whether you have the virus. Your Sexual Health offer a private HIV test and a HIV home test which will be able to accurately diagnose you if you feel you may have been exposed to the virus.

The test is accurate from 28 days after you may have caught the virus and is taken as a pin prick blood sample. The turnaround time for our private HIV test and HIV home test is 4 hours from when it is received by the laboratory. You can arrange either of the tests by clicking the booking buttons at the top of this page.

How is HIV treated?

If your private HIV test with us returns a positive result we can offer you a telephone consultation with one of our GPs. Here we offer you advice on the next stages of your management against the virus. Unfortunately there is no cure for HIV, however with effective medication it’s possible for those with the condition to live a long and healthy life.

HIV is combatted using antiretroviral medications that help fight off viral infections. In order for the HIV virus not to build up a resistance to any medication you will take a combination of drugs for the rest of your life. Without treatment the immune system will become damaged beyond repair leading to AIDS. Early diagnosis and effective treatment will help improve any HIV prognosis.

How can HIV be prevented?

The most effective prevention for HIV is by wearing protection during sex. If you are sleeping with someone and you are not 100% sure that they don’t have a sexually transmitted disease then you should always wear a condom. People who have HIV can reduce the risk of passing on the infection with effective antiretroviral therapy.

How many people have HIV?

According to the NHS website there are approximately 103,700 people in the UK living with HIV. The majority of these were infected through sex, with the figures indicating that 43,000 gay and bisexual men and 54,100 heterosexuals have the virus.

It’s believed that 17% of people with HIV are unaware that they have the condition.

Incidence rates suggest that around one in 620 people have the virus in the UK, with the highest rates appearing amongst gay and bisexual men and black African heterosexuals.

 

What are the symptoms of HIV?

The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is by completing a test like the private HIV test and HIV home tests that are on offer at Your Sexual Health. However, many people who have contracted the virus can experience a flu-like illness which occurs two to six weeks after infection. Symptoms of which may or may not include: –

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Body rash
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Around 80% of people who contract HIV experience the illness which can last as long as two weeks. Following this there are no symptoms that indicate HIV for many years, but the virus continues to cause damage to the body’s immune system.

If HIV is left untreated the immune system will become severely damaged. Common symptoms of late stages of HIV and AIDS include:-

  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Night sweats
  • Skin problems
  • Recurrent infections

Life-threatening illnesses

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver. It’s caused by a virus that is transmitted from one person to another via bodily fluids, such as during sexual intercourse or by the use of contaminated needles. It doesn’t cause any clear symptoms and will usually pass after a period of months without treatment. Although the condition is less common in the UK in comparison to other parts of the world, people who have unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners are part of a high risk group.

Hepatitis B symptoms

Hepatitis B does not have any unique symptoms and unlike many other sexually transmitted infections, it does not affect the genitals. Many people may have the virus and fight it off without ever knowing it was Hepatitis B. Anyone who does experience symptoms will usually notice them two or three months after the initial infections, with signs including: –

Flu-like symptoms such as general fatigue, fever, night sweats, aches and pains

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sickness and nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Jaundice

The condition will usually pass within three months which is known as acute Hepatitis B, however on rare occasions Hepatitis B may last six months or more – described as chronic Hepatitis B. Chronic Hepatitis can cause liver conditions such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

How common is Hepatitis B?

The UK is a described as a low risk area by the World Health Organization. It is believed that 1 in 350 people have chronic hepatitis B in the UK with many of those with the condition coming from high risk nations outside the UK. If you visit a high risk area of the world you should have a vaccination before travelling.

How do you contract Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is spread via the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person, such as in semen or vaginal fluid. One of the most common causes of contracting Hepatitis B in the UK is by having unprotected sex with someone who has the virus. However, there are also other ways that you may contract it, including:-

  • Having a tattoo or piercing in an unsterilized environment using unsterilised equipment
  • Sharing toothbrushes or razors with an infected person if it is contaminated with blood
  • Sharing a needle or other paraphernalia with an infected person during drug use
  • Passed from mother to child during childbirth
  • Luckily, unlike many other viruses, hepatitis B can’t be passed from person to person through kissing, coughing, sneezing or sharing crockery.

What are the measures to protect against Hepatitis B?

When it comes to protecting yourself against infection of Hepatitis B through sex, the most effective way is to always use a condom. This is especially important if you are someone who has many sexual partners or you’re sleeping with someone who does. Of course, you can’t always tell if the person you’re sleeping with has a lot of sexual partners, therefore you should always wear a condom unless you can know for certain.

If you are visiting a country or region that has high rates of Hepatitis you can receive vaccinations against the condition which will prevent you from contracting the disease for up to 20 years.

What tests are available to diagnose Hepatitis B?

Your Sexual Health offer a range of private STD tests in order to diagnose hepatitis B. This includes both specific individual tests for the condition and profile tests which allow you to diagnose multiple conditions using one sample. Our tests are available in any of our clinics across the UK, whilst we also offer a home visit service which can visit any address across the UK. We also have a range of postal tests. All of our tests are 100% confidential and help ensure you get the diagnosis and treatment that you need in an environment you are comfortable with.

How do you treat Hepatitis B?

Although hepatitis B will usually pass without infection, it’s important that you get any possible treatment against the infection in order to prevent lasting damage from chronic hepatitis B. The type of treatment depends when you were infected.

If you’ve been knowingly exposed to the virus within the last few days you will be offered emergency medication in an attempt to prevent the virus replicating.

If you’ve had the condition for longer than a week, but less than three months you may only require medication to alleviate the symptoms of the disease.

If you develop chronic hepatitis B you may be offered medications to keep the virus under control and slow the progression of cirrhosis, reduce incidence of liver cancer and improve long term survival.

What is the outlook for people with the disease?

Acute hepatitis B will usually pass within three months and then you will be immune from the condition for life.

However, chronic hepatitis B can last for months and years and may result in more permanent damage affecting your liver. Some of the life-threatening problems that you may be affected by if you develop chronic hepatitis B include cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Many people that develop chronic hepatitis B may need to manage their ailments for the rest of their life. Around 5% of all adults who contract the disease will be affected by chronic hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C symptoms

Unfortunately, the symptoms of hepatitis C don’t show until the liver has been damaged to a significant degree. This means many people contract the infection and allow it to progress without realising. Even when symptoms do occur they can often be mistaken for common illnesses. Symptoms include: –

  • Tiredness and fatigue around the clock
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling and being sick

Due to their likeness to many other conditions, the only way to know if they are caused by Hepatitis C is to undergo an STI test.

How common is hepatitis C?

According to Public Health England, there are around 160,000 people chronically infected with hepatitis C in England. The majority of these cases come from marginalised and underserved groups in society, including people who inject drugs, but it’s also possible to catch hepatitis C through unprotected sex.

How do you contract hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C can be spread by a number of ways, but in essence it’s passed on through blood-to-blood contact. Although it can be passed on through unprotected sex, this is not necessarily the most common cause. Hepatitis C can be spread by: –

  • Sharing unsterilized needles – particularly those used during the injection of recreational drugs
  • Sharing razors or toothbrushes
  • Passing from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby
  • Through unprotected sex with someone who has the condition

It’s estimated that in the UK around half of people who inject drugs have the infection. If you’ve slept with someone who may fit into this category, you should get tested.

How can you avoid hepatitis C?

In terms of sexual health, hepatitis C can be avoided by always using protection when having sexual intercourse. This should be particularly true if you are sleeping with someone who you know has the condition or you think may have injected recreational drugs in the past.

What tests are available to diagnose Hepatitis C?

Your Sexual Health have a range of private STI tests that can diagnose hepatitis C, including a range of profile and individual tests. Our Profile 6 test diagnoses both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C using the same blood sample, whilst an individual Hepatitis C test is also available.

Our tests are available at a range of clinics across the UK, whilst we can also collect samples from any address in the UK on our home visits test. We also offer Postal Test Kits which offer maximum convenience, whilst still delivering accurate laboratory tested results.

Hepatitis C is a condition that causes damage before any symptoms occur making it imperative that you get tested if you believe you may have been exposed to it.

How can you treat hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C can be treated successfully by taking a combination of medicines for several weeks whilst making a number of lifestyle changes to protect the liver and reduce the risk of the condition spreading. The course of medication will usually last from anywhere between 8 to 48 months, with the length of treatment depending on the medication offered and the strain of hepatitis C virus which you have.

The lifestyle measures which will aid treatment and prevent the condition spreading include: –

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly and remaining active
  • Cutting out alcohol completely or reducing the amount that you drink
  • Stopping smoking

If the infection is diagnosed at an early stage then treatment often won’t be offered immediately. In these instances you will undergo further testing a few months after initial diagnosis to see if your body can fight off the virus.

What is the outlook for people with hepatitis C?

The outlook for people with hepatitis C depends on how long it remains in their body before diagnosis. If diagnosis occurs at a relatively early point and before serious damage is done to the liver, then the patient can receive effective treatment and go on to lead a normal and full life.

Complications can occur with hepatitis C if the infection is left untreated for a period of years, causing scarring of the liver known as cirrhosis. This can cause the liver to function improperly over time. Hepatitis C can also cause and contribute to other serious liver issues such as liver cancer or liver failure.

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It’s most distinguishable symptoms are blisters affecting the genitals and surrounding areas which can be painful and extremely uncomfortable. HSV is the same virus that causes cold sores to form on the lips and mouth and can affect any moist lining or mucous membrane.

There are two types of herpes simplex virus, type 1 and type 2. Both types are highly contagious when in their active state and can pass from person to person through direct contact. Genital herpes is a long term condition that will flare up from time to time with outbreaks occurring about five or six times in the first two years and less frequently thereafter. The course of herpes can vary between individuals.

How can you catch genital herpes?

HSV is usually transmitted as the result of direct contact with someone who has the virus in its active state. Genital herpes can therefore be transmitted through having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone with the virus.

Unfortunately 8 out of 10 people don’t experience any symptoms of genital herpes until sometime after infection and therefore don’t know they have the condition. These people are still able to transmit the virus, although the risk is lower than if there is an active infection, and help spread the condition. The only way to be certain that you don’t have the virus is to get tested.

Genital herpes symptoms

Many people with the herpes simplex virus don’t experience any symptoms when first infected. In many cases it can be months or even years after exposure that you may notice your first outbreak. Those who notice symptoms soon after exposure will usually flare up four to seven days after contact.

Primary herpes

The symptoms of the primary outbreak are usually more severe than recurrent cases and may last up to 20 days. They include: –

 

  • Small blisters that burst to leave red open sores around and near the affected area including genitals, rectum, thighs and buttocks.
  • Blisters or ulcers on the cervix in women
  • Pain when urinating
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Flu-like symptoms including aches, pains and general feeling of being unwell.
  • Recurrent outbreaks

Once the initial symptoms of genital herpes have cleared up, the virus will remain in your body in a dormant state in a nerve near the initial exposure. The virus may then flare up from time to time by travelling from the nerve to the skin. Recurrent outbreaks are usually less severe and last for less time than primary outbreaks. Symptoms that you can expect from recurrent outbreaks include: –

Tingling, burning or itching sensation around the source of the initial infection often travelling down your leg before blisters flare up again.

Painful red blisters like those evident in primary herpes that burst to leave sores around the affected area.

Blisters and ulcers on the cervix in women.

How is genital herpes treated?

Primary infection

The primary infection of genital herpes can be treated with an anti-viral drug called aciclovir which will need to be taken five times a day. Aciclovir works by preventing HSV from multiplying, but unfortunately cannot completely remove HSV. The length of treatment will depend on the state of the virus when you begin your medication with most cases requiring five or more days of the tablets. Other similar antiviral drugs can also be used for treatment.

Recurrent episodes

If you have been diagnosed with genital herpes before and are experiencing a mild recurrent episode, you should visit your GP. Often your GP will offer you advice on ways to help ease the symptoms without the need for treatment. Some of the home remedies for genital herpes include: –

Keeping the affected area clean using either plain or salt water will prevent ulcers and blisters from becoming infected and speed up recovery time.

An ice pack wrapped in a flannel or the use of cold tea bags can soothe pain caused by the blisters, but ice should never be applied directly to skin.\

Petroleum jelly or a painkilling cream applied to blisters will reduce pain when passing urine.

Drinking plenty of fluid will make urination less painful, whilst urinating whilst pouring water over genitals may also reduce pain.

Avoiding tight clothing will help reduce pain.

Suppressive treatment

If you are having more than six recurrent outbreaks in one year or the outbreaks are causing particular pain you may require suppressive treatment to prevent future outbreaks. This usually consists of taking aciclovir twice a day for up to a year. Although taking suppressive treatment will reduce the risk of passing the condition on to your partner, it will not completely remove it.

How can genital herpes be prevented?

Genital herpes is contracted by having sex with an infected individual. Because the condition is so contagious it is important to avoid having sex with someone who has the virus until blisters have completely healed and for a further week thereafter. You should also avoid sharing sex toys and kissing your partner if they have a cold sore.

Many people with genital herpes do not have symptoms or signs of infection straight away and therefore it’s important that you always wear a condom when having sex with a new sexual partner.

How many people have genital herpes in the UK?

According to the latest figures from NHS, genital herpes is a common condition amongst 20 to 24 year olds in the UK. In 2013, there were 32,279 who attended sexual health clinics in England with an attack of genital herpes.

Genital herpes and pregnancy

Genital herpes can cause problems for pregnant women which can be more serious depending on whether you already have genital herpes or whether you developed it for the first time while pregnant.

Existing genital herpes

If you had genital herpes before you were pregnant then the risk to your baby is very small due to the antibodies that are passed to your baby in the latter stages of pregnancy. If you have open sores from genital herpes at the time of birth then the chances of passing herpes on to your baby rises slightly and a suppressive course of acyclovir may be adopting in order to remove this risk of occurrence.

Development of genital herpes

If you develop genital herpes during the third trimester of your pregnancy then the risk of passing on the condition to your baby is considerably higher. This is because protective antibodies will not have time to develop and pass on to your baby before birth. If you develop genital herpes during the latter stages of pregnancy then you may be required to undergo a caesarean section delivery to prevent spread of the infection.

Genital herpes STI testing options

Your Sexual Health offer a range of private STI testing options which can diagnose herpes simplex type 1 and 2 using laboratory methods. We have individual tests that use either urine, swab or blood samples to diagnose the condition. We also have a number of profile tests which can diagnose a range of STIs using one sample offering you the complete peace of mind that you are all clear.

What is mycoplasma genitalium?

Mycoplasma Genitalium bacterium is a sexually transmitted infection that infects the mucus membranes of the urethra, cervix, throat or anus. Although the infection itself does not generally cause serious symptoms, its presence can lead to a range of complications and health issues for men and women in the long term.

How is mycoplasma genitalium contracted?

Mycoplasma genitalium is contracted by having unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with someone else who has the STI. Unfortunately, due to it often presenting no symptoms, many people are unaware that they have the condition allowing it to spread easily. If you’ve had unprotected sex with someone for the first time or you’re someone that has had multiple sexual partners in the previous six months then you should get tested.

What are the symptoms of mycoplasma genitalium?

Like many other STIs such as chlamydia, mycoplasma often exhibits no symptoms. Instead the infection goes unnoticed for a long period of time or until tested. Symptoms that do sometimes present however, include: –

  • Genital irritation and itching along with inflammation
  • Discharge from the vagina or penis along with an undesirable odour
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding, including after sex
  • Complications of mycoplasma genitalium

Although the infection in itself does not usually cause any serious symptoms, if left undiagnosed it can lead to complications over time. Some of the conditions that can be caused by mycoplasma genitalium infection include: –

  • Cervicitis – an inflammation of the cervix in women
  • Urethritis – which is an inflammation of the urethra
  • Prostatitis – inflammation or infection of the prostate gland
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Complications during pregnancy, including ectopic pregnancy or premature birth

Although mycoplasma genitalium is not dangerous on its own, these complications and corresponding illnesses can cause lifelong issues.

What are the mycoplasma genitalium test options?

Here at Your Sexual Health, we have a wide range of private STI tests that can diagnose mycoplasma genitalium, including both profile tests and individual tests. The individual private mycoplasma test allows you to diagnose the condition on its own using a single urine sample.

Our profile tests mean that you can diagnose the condition, whilst also testing for a range of other STIs. The mycoplasma test uses a urine sample for diagnosis, but a number of our profile tests also require blood samples to test for other STIs.

How is mycoplasma genitalium treated?

Mycoplasma genitalium is effectively treated using oral antibiotics, usually Azithromycin. A test to ensure you are cured one month after treatment is needed to make sure that the antibiotics worked. Very occasionally a second course of antibiotics is required.

 

How can you prevent mycoplasma genitalium from spreading?

The best form of prevention against mycoplasma is by practicing safe sex. This includes using a condom whenever you have sex with someone unless you know for certain that they don’t have any STDs. Due to the fact that mycoplasma infects the mucus membranes of the urethra, cervix, throat or anus, you should use protection for all forms of sex including oral, vaginal and anal intercourse.

How many people have mycoplasma genitalium?

There is not as much knowledge of mycoplasma as there is for many other STIs, however a recent medical study by the University College London suggested that as many of 1.2 per cent of all males and 1.3 per cent of females had the infection. The study tested 4500 sexually active participants aged between 16 and 44 years old.

What are chlamydia symptoms in men?

There will often be no symptoms of chlamydia in men, with only around half of those infected noticing any signs. If there are symptoms, these will usually develop around one to three weeks following infection. Common signs of the STD include: –

  • Pain or a burning sensation whilst urinating
  • A cloudy white discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Urethritis, which is characterised by pain or itching within the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the body)
  • Testicular pain or soreness

These initial symptoms may disappear after a couple of weeks, which often leads people to forget they may be infected. Even when symptoms disappear chlamydia will remain in your body and can be passed on during unprotected sex until you receive effective treatment.

Are men more likely to catch chlamydia?

If you have unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia, you’re likely to catch the infection regardless of your gender. In this respect there is nothing to suggest that men are more likely to catch chlamydia.

That said, latest figures from 2018 suggest that a higher ratio of young men aged between 15-24 tested positive for chlamydia in comparison to females of the same age. This is despite double the amount of women testing for the condition.

What are the long term complications in men?

Although very rare, chlamydia can affect male fertility. This happens if chlamydia causes the tubes that carry the male sperm (epididymis) to become inflamed.

 

Although the condition, also known as epididymitis, is treatable with antibiotics it can cause irreversible scarring to the tubes which restricts the flow of sperm. Luckily long term damage like this is rare, but it’s just another reason to get tested for chlamydia regularly.

How is chlamydia in men diagnosed?

There are a wide range of sexual health tests that can diagnose chlamydia in men. Usually this will require a urine sample where the initial flow of urine is examined in a laboratory. You may test for chlamydia on its own or you may wish to perform tests on a number of conditions at the same time.

Some tests, including the Instant Chlamydia Tests available from Your Sexual Health, may require a urethral swab. This is where a thin swab is inserted into the urethra to take a sample of mucous from the area.

If you are at risk of anal or oral infection against chlamydia then you will need a throat swab sample or rectal swab sample to be collected and tested also.

How is chlamydia treated in men?

Both men and women are treated for chlamydia in the same way. This includes an antibiotic treatment which is taken orally, usually in one sitting. The most common treatments are azithromycin (Zithromax) or doxycycline. To avoid reinfection it’s best that your partner also has treatment at the same time. You should abstain from sex for one week following treatment as you can still pass chlamydia on during this time.

Can men catch chlamydia through oral sex?

Whether performing oral sex on a man or a woman, chlamydia can be transmitted through oral sex. In these instances chlamydia will usually cause an infection of the throat. This may cause symptoms including a sore throat, fever or a cold. It’s also possible that someone can be infected within the throat without noticing any symptoms at all.

Although less common, you can also catch chlamydia if you receive oral sex from an infected individual. The symptoms in these instances would be exactly the same as if you caught it through vaginal sex.

Can men catch chlamydia through anal sex?

Whether you’re performing anal sex on a man or a woman there is still a risk of catching chlamydia if the person has a rectal chlamydia infection. Likewise if you receive anal sex from someone who is infected then you may catch rectal chlamydia.

The symptoms of rectal chlamydia are different from chlamydia affecting the penis. Symptoms may include discharge, bleeding and pain in the area. It’s possible to have a chlamydia in both the penis and the anus at the same time.

You can find out more about chlamydia in our advice article on the STI or visit our chlamydia landing page to see more information about our range of tests.

Frequenlty Asked Questions

The first difference between STDs and STIs is in the name. STD stands for sexually transmitted disease, whereas STI means sexually transmitted infection. Essentially, the difference is between a disease and an infection.

 

Not all diseases begin with infections, but many do. Sexually transmitted disease first begin as sexually transmitted infections. Infection occurs with the sexually transmitted bacteria or virus first enters the body and begins multiplying.

 

Once the sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses have entered the body, the infection may progress into a disease. Disease occurs when this foreign presence officially disrupts the body’s normal functions and processes.

STIs are very common and rates in the UK continue to rise for a number of reasons, most notably due to government budget cuts and closures to many public health services in the UK.

If you have unprotected sex with someone without using a condom, then you’re at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

Due to the fact that many STIs show no symptoms, it’s quite common for people to pass on a sexually transmitted infection without knowing they have one themselves.

For this reason it’s important to get tested regularly and always use a condom if you’re having sex with someone in a new relationship.

You can book STI test on our website, we provide complete privacy.

STIs are very common and rates in the UK continue to rise for a number of reasons, most notably due to government budget cuts and closures to many public health services in the UK.

If you have unprotected sex with someone without using a condom, then you’re at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

Due to the fact that many STIs show no symptoms, it’s quite common for people to pass on a sexually transmitted infection without knowing they have one themselves.

For this reason it’s important to get tested regularly and always use a condom if you’re having sex with someone in a new relationship.

No STI test is accurate immediately after exposure to a sexually transmitted infection. Our tests require the virus or bacteria to multiply within your body to a detectable level or they require your body to create antibodies in response to the STI.

The time that this takes is known as the window period for testing. This period varies depending on the test that you’re taking with details displayed as ‘Accurate From’ on the test pages and cards.

The only exception to these times is if you have clear and obvious symptoms to an STD in your genital area. If you are unsure whether you can get tested yet,

There are many reasons to get tested for an STD and each person has there own reasons, including: –

Having symptoms that could be associated with an STD

Starting a new relationship and want to make sure you’re all clear before having unprotected sex

Routine testing to maintain good sexual health

Having unprotected sex with someone for the first time or who you do not know

If a previous sexual partner has let you know they have an STD

STD testing for work or visa requirements

STD testing before beginning IVF or trying for a baby

If you’ve slept with a sex worker or you are a sex worker yourself

By testing with Your Sexual Health you’ll be guaranteed a more convenient service, with faster results than the NHS. Many of our tests are more comprehensive than those offered on the NHS, giving you a complete picture of your health.

The test that you require depends on your own personal circumstances, with the time since your exposure and your required turnaround time taken into account.

We have a Test Finder on our home page and All Tests page which will help you choose or for a more detailed recommendation you can speak to our customer services team for more information.

Your Sexual Health is a 100% confidential service, with the only people aware of your test being you, the clinic and our laboratory. Your results are communicated through our online portal which you will create a login for when you purchase your test.

Should you need to receive treatment for an STD we will refer you to our partner medical organisation. We will always request your permission before doing so.

We keep no record of your results once you’ve been tested and they will not be added to your NHS medical records unless you specifically request them. All of our results and customer details are deleted following a period of time where we will no longer reasonably need them to complete the service.

Yes. Prescriptions can be arranged through our partner medical organisation for any positive tests taken with Your Sexual Health

No. Our service is completely confidential between Your Sexual Health, the laboratory and yourself. Should your test return a positive result we will refer you to our partner medical organisation for treatment and a consultation.

No. If you require the results to be on your NHS record you can communicate them with your GP, but we will not pass them on to anyone without your permission.

Yes. Call us today and our customer services team will be happy to use their extensive knowledge of our tests in order to point you in the right direction. Any medical questions may be referred to a GP in order to give you a more accurate answer.

Should you need any assistance with your appointment, you require help finding your clinic or you have any questions before you receive your results, our customer services team will be able to help you.

Yes. Our team are on hand to explain your results and talk you through what they mean. If you have any positive results you will also be offered a telephone consultation with a GP from our partner medical organisation.

Try to avoid having sex or practice safe sex, this should be done at all times irrespective of your results. If you believe you have an STD, because you’ve got symptoms or because someone has told you that you might have caught it from them, then you should avoid having sex at all until you are all clear.

Home testing involves a kit being posted out to you to take your own samples, whilst our clinic tests involve you visiting a clinic where they will collect your sample.

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