STIs: Don’t get your knickers in a twist!

After a long night at the local club, sexual drive is charged and sometimes students get a little zesty in bed. However, Sexpression aims to clarify the risk of unprotected sex with regards to STIs. Oh and perhaps remind you that condoms are a fab idea.

When I thought about the STIs out there, I suddenly got a bit flustered and realised I didn’t know my syphilis from the clap – and I really ought to get clued up.

So, what’s an STI?

It’s a sexually transmitted infection passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex or genital contact. A point here I’d make is, you don’t have to have sex with someone to get an STI. Close physical contact is good enough for genital warts, for example.

Seen as up to a quarter of students catch an STI during their first year at Uni, the section below is relevant to anyone who is sexually active:

Chlamydia

We’ve all heard of this beastly infection, but I thought I’d clarify a few things.

It’s one of the most common STIs in the UK (in OAPs and students). Symptoms in both men and women include pain, a burning sensation when having a wee and penile or vaginal discharge. Us men might get a cloudy white discharge, whilst women may bleed before and after sex. Oh, and I forgot to mention your testicles get tender too (men only).

What’s crucial here is that up to 70% of women, and 50% of men, don’t get symptoms. Just think, you could have chlamydia now and not realise it. If left, it can cause infertility, and a heightened risk of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage in women. If in doubt, get a urine test at your GP or GUM clinic.

Genital warts

These small fleshy growths are caused by the same virus as normal warts. They’re notoriously difficult to get rid of as well, and can be contracted through mere skin-to-skin contact. Although painless, you may notice some itching.

Genital herpes

This incurable virus often leaves the sufferer from small, painful blisters or sores. These usually develop several days after contracting the virus. Other side-effects include itching, and pain when urinating. Although the virus lays dormant for most of the time – it can flare up, reactivating both the virus and the symptoms.

Gonorrhea or ‘The Clap’

Now lets not clap at this STI. This bacterial infection is very easily passed on through sex. And this silent intruder leaves 50% of women and 10% of men symptomless. In women, gonorrhea can cause burning when urinating along with vaginal discharge. In men, there can be pain when urinating but also a white, yellow or green discharge from your penis. This bacterial invader may also spread to the rectum, throat or eyes.

Good thing is, it’s relatively easily treated with antibiotics. So stay vigilant and get to the GP or GUM clinic if worried.

Syphilis

This is yet another bacterial invader. In its early stages, it causes an infectious sore around the mouth (depending on your activities) or genitals, lasting for up to 6 weeks. If left, it can lead to flu-like symptoms and patchy hair loss. If left even further, after a period of no symptoms, it can lead to blindness and paralysis.  If you suspect you have syphilis, get to your GP or GUM clinic.

Pubic Lice or ‘Crabs’

These crabby creatures are easily passed on through close genital contact. Usually they make their home in hair around the body including, length dependent, your eyebrows.  These creatures make hair notoriously itchy, and crawl around, as opposed to jumping. However, luckily for us the crabs are easily cracked – and are often sorted with special creams or shampoos available over the counter.