How Do I Know If I Have An STI? - Medshield Movement

How Do I Know If I Have An STI?

Here we look at what STIs are most common, typical symptoms and how to proceed if you suspect you have contracted one.  

According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, it’s estimated that, globally, more than a million people are diagnosed with one or more sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia or syphilis every day. 

To help drive awareness around STIs, which are prevalent in South Africa, we have put together a basic guide to help educate yourself and know how to seek medical help. 

What exactly are STIs

As the name suggests, STIs are spread mainly through sexual contact. This includes vaginal, anal and oral sex; some infections can also be spread by non-sexual means – for example, from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth. STIs can have devastating effects on sexual, reproductive and general health. 

They can also lead to a number of complications. If left untreated chlamydia and gonorrhoea can cause damage to reproductive organs and result in long term complications such as infertility. People can even die if certain STIs, such as syphilis, are left untreated, or if they have complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease in the case of chlamydia, according to the NICD.

STI symptoms 

STI symptoms can vary, depending on the infection and severity. Some may not show symptoms initially (including HIV), but typical symptoms to look out for, according to the NHS include:

– An unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or anus

– Pain when urinating

– Lumps or skin growths around the genitals or anus

– Rashes

– Unusual vaginal bleeding

– Itchy genitals or anus

– Blisters or sores around your genitals or anus

– Warts around your genitals or anus or, more rarely, in your mouth or throat

How and when to seek medical help

If you suspect that you or your partner may have an STI, immediately visit your local clinic or doctor. If you have had unsafe sex and are concerned that you may have contracted an STI, visit your doctor or clinic immediately. 

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