You can't tell if someone has a sexually transmitted infection (STI) just by looking at them. Anyone who has ever had unprotected sex or sexual contact with another person could have one, and if they are under 25 the chances are greater.

What exactly is an STI?

Sexually transmitted infections (which used to be called STDs  - Sexually Transmitted Diseases) can be passed from person to person through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, by genital contact and through sharing sex toys. You don't need to have lots of sexual partners to get an infection. Having sex or sexual contact once with one person without using a condom can be enough for an infection to be passed on.

Types of STIs

There are roughly 25 different STIs, including genital warts, genital herpes and gonorrhoea, but we're going to focus on the most common one amongst young people. There are useful websites at the end if you want to know more.

Chlamydia
  • Is the most common STI amongst young women and young men under 25
  • Most people don't realise they have it because they don't get any symptoms
  • Can be easily treated with antibiotics
  • Can cause pelvic pain or even infertility (unable to have children) in women and men if left untreated
Testing for Chlamydia is FREE and couldn’t be simpler!

The National Chlamydia Screening Programme recommends that all young people have a chlamydia test at least every year (from when you start having sex), or each time you have sex with a new partner without using a condom. This is regardless of whether you or the other person have any signs or symptoms. All you have to do is provide a sample of urine in a pot (‘pee in a pot’) or if you are female you can choose to do a self-taken vaginal swab. There is no pain involved, and you have a lot to gain from testing. If you do test positive for Chlamydia it can be easily treated with antibiotics and a clinician can help you in telling sexual partners who may also need to be treated.

There are lots of services which offer testing. Or you can order online from Freetestme or pick up a kit and do it yourself. Then all you need to do is post it back. A pre-paid envelope is provided so it won’t cost you anything. The results can be sent to you by letter, phone or text, whichever you prefer.

Some areas also offer dual testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea so you can provide one urine sample and get tested for both at the same time.  You can also visit the NHS website for more details.

Gettingiton

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