Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections that spread from person to person through intimate contact.
This includes oral sex (blowjobs & lick-outs), vaginal and anal intercourse, and also through skin-to-skin genital contact.
Some STIs will give you symptoms like itching around the genitals and pain when you pee,
but a lot of the time people don’t get any symptoms at all, and then don’t know that they have anything.
That is why it is SO important to go for regular STI tests (every 6 months).
If STIs are left untreated, some can cause serious health problems, such as infertility (not being able to have a baby)
and even death (in the case of untreated HIV).
Don’t panic! All STIs can be treated, and most can be cured.
Getting an STI is nothing to be ashamed of, it can happen no matter how many people you have had sex with
or how many times you have had sex. It has nothing to do with someone being unhygienic –
unfortunately these myths have been around for a long time! The risk of STIs is part of the reality of being sexually active.
It is important to be able to talk openly about STIs as we would any other infection or illness, free from shame.
The golden rules are;
get tested regularly,
use barrier protection during all kinds of sex (condoms or dental dams),
communicate with sexual partners,
never disclose someone elses’s STI status (or spread rumours!)
and ditch the STI stigma!
One reason STIs spread is because people think they can only be infected if they have sexual intercourse. That’s wrong. Some STIs, like herpes or genital warts, can spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area.
Another myth about STIs is that you can’t get them if you have oral or anal sex. That’s also wrong, because the viruses or bacteria that cause STIs can enter the body through tiny cuts or tears in the mouth and anus, as well as the genitals.
STIs spread easily because it is difficult to tell if someone has an STI. Many people with STIs don’t know that they have them. These people are at risk of passing an STI on to their sex partners without realising it.
The younger a person starts having sex, the greater his or her chances of picking up an STI. This is often because people who start having sex younger might have more sexual partners throughout their whole life, or because some young people might not have received any information about how to have sex, safely. Practising safer sex should always be an important part of your sex life.
People who have many different sexual partners are more at risk than those who stay with the same partner. This is because they are more likely to come into contact with someone with an STI – makes sense, right?. No matter how many sexual partners you have – have safe sex! Always use a barrier method of protection – a condom or dental dam!
Condoms, internal condoms and dental dams are the only types of protection that reduce your risk of getting an STI. Hormonal forms of protection, such as the pill, the implant (the ‘bar’), the patch etc. do nothing to prevent STIs.
You cannot get STIs from a toilet seat!
STI checks are free and confidential. It takes 10 minutes and all your treatment is free. No excuses!
For a FREE STI check, call the Galway Clinic on 091 525 200, go online to www.sh24.ie for a free at-home testing kit for people aged 17 and over, or click here to visit our Sexual Health Website and find contact details for STI clinics all over Ireland.
Click here to visit the STI section of our Sexual Health West website