STIs are a major public health concern, which may seriously impact the health and wellbeing of affected individuals, as well as being costly to healthcare services. If left undiagnosed and untreated, common STIs can cause a range of complications and long-term health problems, from adverse pregnancy outcomes to neonatal and infant infections, and cardiovascular and neurological damage.
In 2018, there were 447,694 new diagnoses of STIs made at sexual health services (SHSs) in England, a 5% increase since 2017 when 422,147 new STI diagnoses were made. Of these, the most commonly diagnosed STIs were:
- chlamydia (49% of all new diagnoses)
- first episode genital warts (13%)
- gonorrhoea (13%)
- first episode genital herpes (8%).
Condoms are the only type of contraception that can both prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
There are 2 types of condoms:
- external condoms, worn on the penis – sometimes called male condoms
- female condoms, worn inside the vagina – sometimes called female condom
- When used correctly every time you have sex, male condoms are 98% effective. This means 2 out of 100 people will become pregnant in 1 year when male condoms are used as contraception.
- You can get free condoms from contraception clinics, sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries.
- Oil-based products – such as moisturiser, lotion and Vaseline – can damage latex and polyisoprene condoms, but they are safe to use with polyurethane condoms.
- Water-based lubricant is safe to use with all condoms.
- It’s possible for a condom to slip off during sex. If this happens, you may need emergency contraception and to get checked for STIs.
- Condoms need to be stored in places that are not too hot or cold, and away from sharp or rough surfaces that could tear them or wear them away.
- unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or anus
- pain when peeing
- lumps or skin growths around the genitals or anus
- a rash
- unusual vaginal bleeding
- itchy genitals or anus
- blisters and sores around the genitals or anus
Where you can get checked out:
- Free test (At home kit)
- Sexual health London (Home testing kits and emergency contraception)
- Finding PEP and PrEP (HIV medication)