STIs or sexually transmitted infections are passed from one person to another through unprotected sex or genital, oral or anal contact.
Anyone can get an STI or pass it on, you don’t need to have lots of sexual partners.
There’s lots of different types of STIs. Symptoms can vary for each STI but some have no symptoms yet can cause long term health problems if they’re left untreated.
It’s therefore really important that you get regularly tested so that if you do have an STI, it can be treated as soon as possible.
At Embrace we offer free testing and treatment for STIs
Here you can find out more about the most common STIs, their symptoms and treatment.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection which is easily passed on through unprotected sex. You may not have any symptoms or it may cause pain or a burning feeling when peeing.
Women may notice an unusual vaginal discharge, which may be thin or watery and green or yellow. In some cases, women may feel pain in the lower tummy or bleeding after sex or between periods, or heavier periods.
Men may experience an unusual discharge from the tip of their penis, swelling of the foreskin or in more rare cases, pain or tenderness in the testicles.
It's quick and easy to get tested for gonorrhoea – there’s no need for you to come to a clinic as you can get a free test sent to your home.
If you’re aged 15-25, you can order a free gonorrhoea home test kit
If you’d like to be tested for a range of STIs, including gonorrhoea, you can order an STI home test kit
Don’t worry if you have gonorrhoea, it can be easily treated with antibiotics.
Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK, especially among young people.
Although most people don’t have any symptoms, chlamydia can cause pain or a burning feeling when you pee. Women may experience an increase or change in vaginal discharge, pain in the lower tummy, pain during sex or bleeding after sex or between periods. In men it can cause discharge from the tip of their penis and/ or pain or tenderness in the testicles.
It's quick and easy to get tested for chlamydia – there’s no need for you to come to a clinic as you can get a free test sent to your home.
If you’re aged 15-25, you can order a free chlamydia home test kit.
If you’d like to be tested for a range of STIs, including chlamydia, you can order an STI home test kit
Don’t worry if you have chlamydia, it can be easily treated with antibiotics.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection which often has mild symptoms that can be difficult to recognise.
Initially you may have a painless but highly infectious sore on your genitals which can last up to six weeks before disappearing. Weeks later this can develop into a second phase, which may include a rash, a growth on a woman’s vulva or man or woman’s anus that’s similar to genital warts and/ or a flu-like illness.
If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems years later and affect your heart, brain, eyes or nervous system. Having syphilis or any other bacterial STI also increases the chance of you catching HIV.
It’s therefore really important to get tested and treat syphilis as soon as possible.
It's quick and easy to get tested for syphilis – there’s no need for you to come to a clinic as you can order a free STI test kit to be sent to your home.
Genital herpes is a common infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), the same virus that causes cold sores.
Symptoms are itchy, tingling and sometimes painful blisters on the genitals and the surrounding areas which can come and go over time.
It’s easy to test for genital herpes if you have symptoms. Call our service to book an appointment 01902 444 444
Although there’s no cure for genital herpes, the symptoms can be controlled with antiviral medicines which you can get from Embrace, your GP or pharmacy.
Genital warts are a very common STI which are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Symptoms are growths, bumps or skin changes on and around the genital or anal area. They’re usually painless but can be itchy or sometimes cause bleeding.
HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact so you don't need to have sex to get or pass on the infection.
Although genital warts often causes no serious health problems, it can mean that you could be at risk of other STIs so it’s important to use a condom.
Treatments for genital warts range from a cream to cryotherapy (freezing) depending on how severe they are.
If you think you have genital warts call to make an appointment on 01902 444 444 or visit your GP.
Trichomoniasis Vaginalis (TV) is a tiny parasite which is passed on through sex.
There are often no symptoms but in women, it can cause a frothy yellow or watery vaginal discharge that has an unpleasant smell, soreness or itching around the vagina, and pain when passing urine.
Men may experience pain or burning after passing urine, a whitish discharge, or an inflamed foreskin.
TV can be treated with antibiotics. Call our advice line or contact your GP.
HIV – or human immunodeficiency virus - is a virus that attacks the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to respond to infections.
Anyone can get HIV, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.
It’s a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be passed on through unprotected sex with someone who has HIV.
You can also get the virus if you come into contact with infected blood, such as through sharing needles or injecting drugs or steroids.
The best way to protect yourself against HIV is to use a condom
Find out more about our HIV services
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus that is spread through blood, semen and vaginal fluids.
You can catch it through unprotected sex, injecting drugs using shared needles or having a tattoo or piercing with unsterilised equipment.
Most people who have hepatitis B don’t have symptoms or it may be several months before they notice anything. Symptoms can include tiredness, a high temperature, feeling or being sick and pain in your upper tummy.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis B.
It's quick and easy to get tested for hepatitis B – there’s no need for you to come to a clinic as you can order a free STI test kit to be sent to your home.
Treatment is usually antivirals and medicines and you may also need check-ups to make sure your liver is working properly.