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The top 4 STIs to watch out for this year

Nothing ruins a great sexual experience more than waking up to itchy genitals, warts in all the wrong places ... and an immense amount of discomfort.

We know that Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) aren’t the prettiest things to talk about, but if you think you could be at risk of contracting one, or you think you might have already, you need to read this article.

Today we’ll be looking at the top 4 STIs to watch out for in 2022. This article covers:

  • What are STIs
  • Ways you can get STIs
  • How to protect yourself against the most common STIs
  • Syphilis
  • Herpes
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • What to do if you get an STI

What are STIs and how could I get one?

An STI is a Sexually Transmitted Infection. In other words, it is an infection that is transmitted through sexual intercourse or other sexual activities.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are different to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). The one big difference is that an STI has only considered a disease (STD) when it causes symptoms.

All STDs have symptoms (so all start as STIs) but not all STIs will result in symptoms. You usually won't know you have an STI until symptoms occur.

Many people and most health authorities use the terms STI and STD interchangeably.

How STIs are passed from one partner to another

As mentioned above, you can get an STI by engaging in sexual intercourse or other sexual activities with a partner that has an STI or STD.

When affected genitalia come into contact with another genitalia, anus, or mouth, the infection can be transmitted immediately.

But is sex the only way STIs can be transmitted?  There’s a common question, especially amongst ladies…

Can I get an STI from sitting on a public toilet?

The short answer is, no. It’s virtually impossible to contract an STI from sitting on a public toilet seat. 

The long (and more scientific) answer is that the bacteria that cause STIs can’t survive outside of the human body. That means that once it leaves the mucus membranes inside an affected body it will very quickly die.

Outside of the body, there are very few items that could host a living bacterial STI. So you have nothing to worry about there.

Instead, you should focus on protecting yourself during any sexual activities with new partners…

How to protect yourself against the most common STIs

Use condoms: The easiest way to protect against STIs during sexual intercourse (both vaginal and anal) and oral sex is by using condoms.

For female oral sex, dental dams can be used. Dental dams are square pieces of stretchy latex that are placed over the lady’s genitals when she receives oral sex.

Avoid using shared towels, underwear, and sex toys: Towels and underwear can harbour bacterial STIs longer than other objects such as toilet seats.

Therefore, you should avoid sharing towels and underwear with an untested sexual partner.

You also shouldn’t share sex toys during or after sex. Removing a sex toy from an infected partner's genitalia and inserting it into you increases the possibility of you getting the infection.

Wash before and after sexual activities: By washing your genitals immediately after sexual intercourse you reduce the risk of contracting STIs.

Hygiene is important and both partners should clean their genitals before having sex too. Yes guys, even if you’re going to wrap it up, you should jump in the shower right before as well.

Make it part of the foreplay - a hot steamy shower together before the main event.

Okay, so now you know what an STI is, how you can get one and what to do to avoid getting them, let’s take a look at the main ones you should be watching out for…

The top 4 STIs to watch out for in 2022

There are more than 20 types of STIs and STDs. Today we’re going to look at the most common ones. The ones you should know about before engaging in unprotected sex with an untested partner.

Warning: this next section isn’t going to be pretty, but knowledge is the first step to empowering yourself to stay safe and protected.

1. Syphilis

Syphilis can be spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex.
(or simply touching an infected sore or sharing items such as sex toys or razors could transmit the disease).

You may never know you have syphilis as some people never exhibit symptoms. But Syphilis does not go away by itself.

If left untreated, syphilis could spread to other parts of your body and cause long-term problems that could be more difficult to treat.

Symptoms: One of the first symptoms of syphilis is a small painless sore or ulcer located at the point the infection entered your body. This sore is known medically as a chancre and will usually form around 3 weeks after exposure.

Most people will have just one visible chancre after contracting syphilis, but some can develop many in the area.

You can also get red rashes on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.

Less common symptoms can include white patches in the mouthtirednessheadachesswollen glands and high temperature.

Examples - what does syphilis look like?

2. Herpes

Herpes can be contracted through unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.

But you’ve probably heard more about sores and ulcers forming around the mouth after performing unprotected oral sex with an infected partner, than any other type of herpes symptoms. All are serious, but the testing for Herpes is easy; we would need just your urine sample.

Symptoms: The most common symptom with the first outbreak of herpes is herpetic urethritis - the inflammation of the urethra causing pain when passing urine and general discomfort.

Other symptoms include blisters and sores that look like ingrown hairs at first.

Examples - what does herpes look like?

3. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections as it’s one of the easiest to transfer between partners.

Like other STIs, you can get it through unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex. But...

WARNING: Chlamydia can also be transferred without penetration. This means that just genitals touching can transfer the infection. It can also be transferred through the eye if semen or vaginal fluid gets into it.

Chlamydia can be very serious for women as it can cause permanent damage to the reproductive system making it very difficult to get pregnant. And pregnant women who have chlamydia can also pass it on to their baby.

Chlamydia can be very serious if left untreated. It can spread to other parts of the body and, in rare cases, can cause reactive arthritis.

In untreated men, chlamydia can spread to the testicles causing them to grow and become very painful. It can also cause epididymitis - swelling of the tubes that carry sperm.

In untreated women, chlamydia can cause PID - Pelvic inflammatory disease - and infertility.

Symptoms: Symptoms can vary between genders. Both men and women can experience a painful or burning sensation when urinating and unusual discharge from the genitals. Men can also have testicular swelling. Women can experience bleeding in between periods.

Examples - what does chlamydia look like?

4. Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea can be contracted through vaginal, oral or anal sex in the discharge from the penis and vaginal fluids.

Gonorrhoea most often affects the urethra, rectum, and throat in both males and females. It can also affect the cervix in females. But only 10% of those infected experience symptoms.

And left untreated, gonorrhoea can cause permanent blindness in a newborn baby.

Symptoms: The most common symptom is a thick green or yellow mucus discharge from your vagina or penis. Other symptoms include bleeding and pain passing urine.

Examples - what does gonorrhoea look like?

What to do if you think you’ve contracted an STI

Get tested!

It’s that simple. There’s no way of knowing if you have an STI unless you are tested. Sometimes people don’t get symptoms and live with an STI for many years before they affect them.

The one rule you should live by...

If you engage in unprotected sexual activities with a new partner, get tested immediately.

English Doctor Barcelona makes this really easy for you. We have 3 sexual health test packages to check for different STIs. And if any come back positive, we can provide an extensive treatment plan.

It’s important to act fast. The longer you wait, the worse it could get. Just look back at some of the worst-case scenarios above.

So, what are you waiting for?