Okay, I should rephrase that; you ‘could have’ an STI. But seriously, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are something that you should be concerned about. Regardless of how many people you’ve had hooked up, if you use condoms or if you have no symptoms, you should be getting tested for STIs. For Sex Week 2019, Craccum gives you a quick low down on all things STI
A STI, or Sexually Transmitted Infection, is an infection that is spread by sexual contact. These infections can be spread by oral, vaginal or anal sex. If you are sexually active, you are at risk of an STI; this risk just varies on your number of sex partners, your sexual practices and if you use safe sex measures.
A lot of people do. STIs are incredibly common. Sometimes a stigma exists around having an STI but people can get them regardless of how many partners they’ve had or how they’ve had sex so there is no need for any judgment.
They are also very common for young people – those under 25 are at the highest risk of getting an STI. Chlamydia is the most common STI in New Zealand followed by Genital Warts. You should assume that any new sexual partner you have could have an STI.
There are a range of STIs that can be of concern, in particular:
Family Planning have a comprehensive range of information on their website or you could book an appointment with a Sexual Health Nurse to discuss what STIs you may be at risk for.
There are many symptoms you could have, but in general, if you have been sexually active and there are symptoms down there that concern you then you should speak to a Health Professional. Otherwise, some STI symptoms are:
Pain during urination
Pain during sex
Small flat lumps on the genitals
Many STIs can have no symptoms at all, meaning you wouldn’t know you have an infection. This is why regular testing is important – you could find out that you’ve caught something and had no idea.
The most comprehensive way to prevent STIs is to use a condom. Ideally for all types of sexual contact but specifically for Vaginal and Anal sex. There are guides on Love Your Condom and Family Planning on how to correctly put on a condom. Make sure to use lube and to also leave room at the tip for ejaculate.
Men-who-have-sex-with-men can consider medication called PrEP that is taken daily to prevent HIV infection. Getting tested regularly can reassure you that you have been checked and do not have an STI, limiting the ability you have to spread the STI if you have it.
To prevent genital warts, the HPV vaccination is important and funded for all young men and women.
Family Planning are your experts for all things sexual health however have a long wait time for appointments. The drop in clinic is available but requires you to be waiting usually 1 hour or more early.
University Health and Counseling offer sexual health testing as part of their services and are conveniently located on campus.
Your local GP clinic will also offer sexual health services. If you are under 25 ask if they have discount for sexual health appointments, some medical practices do.
You should be tested regularly if you have many new sexual partners. Annually at a minimum, more often if you’re a bit hit or miss at using condoms. Queer men should consider getting tested every 3-6 months depending on their sexual practices.
If you are entering a new, monogamous relationship, firstly good on you, secondly, you both could get tested as you become monogamous to confirm you both do not have an STI
Yes. Your embarrassment is completely unnecessary and most people will appreciate the honesty. If a sexual partner doesn’t know they have an STI they could spread it further. It is not the most pleasant conversation but it happens.
Yes, to be certain that you are not infected.