It is important to understand the risks of being sexually active and how some of those risks can be prevented. One of those risks is pregnancy and another getting or passing on STIs. An STI (sometimes known as an STD) stands for sexually transmitted infection and is any type of infection that can be passed from one person to another through any type of sexual contact.
Many common STIs are easily treatable however some do not have a cure or can cause problems for you in the long term unless dealt with. It’s also possible to have an STI and not show any symptoms which is why it’s important to have regular check-ups.
When you start having sex, it is important to make sure you use protection every time to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Condoms, when used correctly, are the only way to prevent both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. You can get condoms for free at sexual health clinics and GP surgeries. Remember, getting an STI doesn’t depend on how many partners you have had or how many times you’ve had sexual contact.
If you’re worried that you might have a sexually transmitted infection, even if you can’t see or feel any symptoms, you can visit a local STI clinic where you will be tested confidentially. It doesn’t matter what your age is or whether you are male or female. Most of the time, these tests are straightforward, fast and pain free. Whilst it’s not unusual to feel nervous or embarrassed when you go to a clinic, try not to worry. You will be seen by a professional who is used to talking about sex and STIs.
You can also look online or use a service like Brook to talk things through if you are worried.