Sexual Health Screening
If you're sexually active, you're at risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Getting screened is easy and can prevent health complications for you and your sexual partners.
Why you should get tested
If there's a possibility you may have an STI, it's important to get tested. Don't wait for obvious symptoms to appear. Chlamydia, for example, has few recognisable symptoms, especially in women. You can be infected and not know.
Those most at risk of infection are young people who've had several partners and men who have sex with other men.
You can reduce the risk of infection by always using a condom, but not all STIs are just passed on by penetrative vaginal or anal intercourse. Some can be picked up through oral sex too, while genital herpes, HPV and even sometimes infections such as Gonorrhoea can be transferred by intimate contact.
Where to get tested: See your GP or make an appointment at a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.
There are also special rapid testing clinics. Some services are aimed specifically at younger people, such as Brook.
All these services are confidential. You'll be asked your name, address and GP's name, but you don't have to give your real name and you can ask them not to contact your GP.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs, affecting up to one in ten sexually active young people, and usually goes untreated.
Causes of Chlamydia - Chlamydia is usually passed from one person to another during vaginal, oral or anal sex, or by sharing sex toys. It can live inside cells of the cervix, urethra, rectum and sometimes in the throat and eyes. Chlamydia can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby.
Symptoms of Chlamydia - Chlamydia is often referred to as the "silent infection", as most men and women don't have any obvious signs or symptoms, or they're so mild they go unnoticed.
Symptoms can appear one to three weeks after you've come into contact with Chlamydia, or many months later, or not until the infection spreads to other parts of your body.
Women may notice:
- unusual vaginal discharge
- bleeding between periods or during or after sex
- pain with sex or when passing urine
- lower abdominal pain
Men may notice:
- white/cloudy, watery discharge from the tip of the penis
- pain when passing urine or painful testicles
If the infection is in the eye or rectum, you may experience discomfort, pain or discharge. Chlamydia in the throat is uncommon and usually has no symptoms.
Advice and support
Go to your GP, a GUM clinic or a sexual health clinic. All services are confidential. You can also ask a pharmacist. You can also call the NHS Sexual Health Helpline on 0800 567 123.
- FPA - The sexual health charity: www.fpa.org.uk
- Sexwise: Confidential advice line 0800 282 930 (7am-midnight)
How to avoid STIs
- Male and female condoms, when used correctly, can help protect against STIs
- Before you have sex, talk to your partner about using condoms
- Use condoms every time you have vaginal or anal sex
- If you have oral sex, use a dam
Disclaimer: All content within Women's Work (Derbyshire) Ltd Health & Wellbeing pages are provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Women's Work (Derbyshire) Ltd is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of the Women's Work (Derbyshire) Ltd Health & Wellbeing pages. Women's Work (Derbyshire) Ltd is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. Always consult your own GP if you're in any way concerned about your health.