If you are looking to minimise the risk of contracting HIV taking PrEP is probably for you
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If you’ve had unprotected sex, or you’re worried about a sexually transmitted infection, get tested as soon as possible – even if you don’t have any symptoms.
Otherwise you should make an appointment with a doctor when you become sexually active, and before you start having sex with a new partner.
STI testing and treatment
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are generally acquired by sexual contact with an infected person. The bacteria or viruses may pass from one person to another in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids. STIs can be caused by:
- Bacteria (gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia)
- Parasites (trichomoniasis)
- Viruses (HPV, genital herpes, HIV)
If left untreated, STIs, can cause severe health problems, including infertility, cancer, blindness and organ damage.
STIs do not always cause symptoms and can be contracted from someone who may appear to be perfectly healthy. Because of this STIs can often go unnoticed until complications occur or a partner is diagnosed. Visible symptoms can include:
- Sores or bumps on the penis, genitals or in the oral or rectal area
- Painful/burning urination
- Strange discharge from the penis
- Unusual or odd-smelling vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Lower abdominal pain or in the genital areas
- Flu-like symptoms like fever, body aches, swollen glands, and feeling tired
STI symptoms can come and go over time, but that doesn’t mean the STI is gone. STI testing may include urine tests, blood tests, swabs, and physical exams. There are a number of different STIs, and the test type will depend on which STI you are being tested for. Your doctor can order tests to check for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, hepatitis, herpes, HIV and syphilis.
If you are a sexually active adult, you should get tested every 3 to 12 months, depending on your level of sexual activity.
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Treatment of STIs
If you have an untreated STI it can cause a range of mild to severe health complications and also create other health conditions.
STIs caused by bacteria are easier to treat than viral infections, which can be managed but not necessarily cured. Treatment for STIs usually consists of one of the following:
- Antibiotics are used to cure many sexually transmitted bacteria and parasitic infections including gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. Typically, you’ll be treated for gonorrhoea and chlamydia at the same time because the two infections often appear together.
Once you start a course of antibiotics it is important to complete the course. It’s also important to abstain from sex until seven days after you’ve completed antibiotic treatment and any sores have healed.
- Antiviral drugs. If you have herpes or HIV, you’ll be prescribed an antiviral drug. Antiviral drugs will reduce the number of herpes recurrences if you take daily suppressive therapy, but you will still be contagious.
Antiviral drugs can keep HIV infection in check for many years and even reduce your virus count so low that it can hardly be detected, but you will still have the virus and can still transmit it.
Anal care is vital to your overall health and well-being. And those of us who engage in anal sex know all too well that when things go wrong, they can be a literal pain in the butt.
At the Queer Wellness Centre, we advocate having open and honest conversations about your bum, especially if anything is bothering you or if you’ve been bleeding or having discomfort during sex. We have a range of services for anal health care to ensure you can enjoy great sex with peace of mind. Common butt ailments we treat include anal fissures, anal warts, and rectal STI testing and treatment.
Your vagina matters to us, and we encourage you to have open and honest conversations with one of our doctors if you have any concerns.
In fact, when you visit us for a sexual health screening, we want to hear all about your vaginal health. Many doctors take care of lesbians and women sexually active with women without being aware of their patients’ sexual orientation. At the Queer Wellness Centre, we understand that you have unique medical and psychological needs that must be considered. We offer a range of services from pap smears, to STI testing and treatment to make sure your vagina stays in tip top shape.