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Your top 10 STI questions answered

Friday, April 1, 2016

Feature

You asked, and we've answered - here are your top 10 questions about STIs

1. My partner told me that they once had chlamydia but had it treated. Could it still affect me?

Possibly. If your partner and their ex had treatment at the same time, the chlamydia would have been successfully treated. If your partner had treatment, but their ex didn’t or did it at a different time, and they kept having sex, you partner might have been reinfected. This means that you might be at risk if you are having sex without a condom. Both you and your partner should get an STI test to be sure.

2. What is an STI?

An STI is a sexually transmissible infection. Sexual contact, which includes oral, vaginal and anal sex, and any touching of the genitals, can put you at risk of getting an STI. Some STIs are bacterial and can be quickly treated with antibiotics. Other STIs are viral infections, and are managed slightly differently. Some STIs, such as genital warts and herpes, can only be diagnosed when you have symptoms. Most STIs have no symptoms. If you are going to have sex, here are a few tips to make it safer:

Every time you have sex, use a condom with water-based lubricant and have a 6 month or yearly check
If you are entering a relationship talk with each other about your sexual history and both have a STI check before you decide to have sex together.
The only way to be completely free of risk of an STI is to never have sexual contact with anyone.

3. I keep getting thrush. I treat it, and then about a month later, it comes back. How can I get rid of it completely?

It’s possible that you have thrush, but it’s also possible that you have something else and thrush treatment won’t work. You should make an appointment to get it diagnosed and treated.

4. How do I know if I have an STI?

Different STIs have different symptoms, which can range from pain when you wee or have sex, to painful or itchy genitals, and/or unusual discharge. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should get tested.

However the most common STIs have no symptoms at all – so even if you feel fine, if there’s a chance you’re at risk of having contracted an STI, you should still get tested.
The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to have a test.

5. I’ve never had sex but I’ve gone down on my partner. Can I get an STI that way?

Yes, just like vaginal and anal sex, you can get an STI through oral sex. To protect yourself from STIs during oral sex, make sure your partner wears a condom, or use a dental dam to cover the anus or genitals.

6. My new partner and I want to stop using condoms because we’re going to use the pill instead. I’ve never had sex before but my partner has had sex with a few people before me. What should we do to make sure we’re safe?

You should both get an STI check before you stop using condoms. Your partner might have got an STI from a previous partner and you might also be at risk, as some STIs can also be caught through other sexual contact, such as oral sex, or touching someone’s genitals. Until you’ve both been tested and, if necessary, treated, you should continue to use condoms used with water-based lubricant.

7. I have a wart on my hand. Can I pass these warts on when I masturbate or touch someone else?

It is possible, but not likely. There are hundreds of different types of warts and each type prefers a particular part of the body. If you’ve had the HPV vaccine, this will prevent you from getting genital warts.

8. I get cold sores. Can I pass these onto others if I give someone else oral sex?

Yes. When a herpes cold sore is at the tingling stage (before it appears), and when it is in blister form, it can be passed on. It can sometimes even be passed on when you don’t have a cold sore. As soon as you notice symptoms, make an appointment at Family Planning to get it treated. Don’t have sexual contact when the tingling or blisters are present.

9. I’ve had quite a few sexual partners and now I am worried that I may have caught HIV as I keep getting colds and flu all the time. How do you know if you have HIV?

The only way to know for sure is to have a blood test, which can easily detect HIV. The fact that you are worried about it now is a good enough reason to get checked out, so do it to avoid any unnecessary worry. Remember that HIV can take years before it shows any signs – but if it is picked up early, it is easily managed. You might also be run down for another reason, however, so it would be a good idea to go along to a Family planning clinic for a sexual health check-up.

10. How long does it take for an STI to show up?

Although this varies, we can usually test for most common STIs two weeks after having sex. If you’re ever worried about having caught an STI, make an appointment – it never hurts to be cautious!

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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