Although most of the time 14th February is a day for spreading love and affection – make sure you don’t get carried away and start spreading infection.
If you have any dates planned this Valentine’s Day, it might be worth remembering that more STIs are spread around this time of year than any other time.
With that in mind, Dr Elizabeth Kershaw-Yates from The STI Clinic has compiled a list of some of the STIs to look out for, what their symptoms are, and how they can be treated.
Chlamydia remains one of the most common STI’s in the UK – and because there are usually none or very minimal symptoms, it can be especially dangerous. Although it’s one of the most common STIs, if left untreated it can cause infertility in women, and men in rare cases, which is why it’s so important to get tested regularly, even if you don’t have any signs of the disease.
Testing for chlamydia has never been easier or more convenient. You can visit a doctors’ surgery or a GUM clinic – or you can even order a testing kit online which means you don’t even have to leave your own home. The infection is very easy to cure with a round of antibiotics. If you find out you have chlamydia, make sure your partner is also treated.
With gonorrhoea, 1 in 20 men and 50% of women don’t know that they are infected and won’t experience any symptoms – which is why it’s really important to get checked. The test for gonorrhoea is either a urine sample or a swab.
There is a new strain of Gonorrhoea – ‘Super Gonorrhoea,’ which has about 36,000 new diagnoses each year. If you do catch gonorrhoea it is very important to finish your entire course of antibiotics to help prevent the spread of this new mutation. This new strain of ‘Super Gonorrhoea’ is resistant to antibiotics – which makes it very difficult to treat.
Intramuscular antibiotics are required to treat gonorrhoea – and it’s important to abstain from sex until the infection is completely cleared up. You can be re-infected, so make sure your partner is tested and treated too.
Herpes is a viral infection which can appear on either the genitals or in the mouth. It is not necessarily transmitted sexually – it can also be spread through contact with a cold sore.
During the first outbreak, you might experience flu-like symptoms with headaches, fever and swollen glands. However, these symptoms are not always present. The most well-known symptom of herpes is cold sores and blisters around the mouth, but like many STI’s most people do not experience any symptoms.
Herpes can be detected by swabbing a blister at your local GUM clinic or by post if you can’t find the time.
Unfortunately, herpes has no cure. The virus stays in the body and may cause recurrent outbreaks. Symptoms can be managed through medication and Aciclovir is the normal medication that is prescribed but there are alternatives.
If the viral load is high, some people can be prescribed suppression therapy. If your partner has herpes you can prevent infection by using protection to cover any infected areas and avoid contact with herpes sores.