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Have symptoms that you're worried about? Wondering if you're at risk of an STI? We can help with screenings, diagnosis and treatment, while giving you a clear explanation of what it all means. Sexually transmitted infections are passed through skin to skin contact, some across mucosal membranes such as mouth and lips, some through bodily fluids. Depending on what kind of sex you have, and who you have sex with, there will be a variable risk of you having been exposed to sexually transmitted infection (STI - previously known as an STD - sexually transmitted disease - a term done away with due to the pejorative implications of the word "disease"). Or you may need a hand with management of an infection you already have, such as HIV or herpes.

Condoms are the only real option for protecting you against STIs. Some people complain that sensation is reduced with condom use, or that is difficult to negotiate use with a partner, especially if caught up in a passionate moment. For casual sex or with a new partner, condoms are really the only way to go. "If it's not on, it's NOT ON!". Just make sure you anticipate that they might be needed, and carry some with you. Be prepared to just say the word before penetration occurs. Your partner will respect you for it! Condoms also reduce the risk of pregnancy by acting as a barrier contraceptive.

Common STIs are chlamydia, human papillomavirus, and herpes. Gonorrhoea is less common but definitely still around. Sometimes people develop symptoms of these infections, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes there is a good test for these STIs, sometimes not! There are more unusual, blood-borne viruses which are usually symptomatic, but could be dangerous if not treated eg. HIV or syphilis. For some STIs, vaccination is available eg Hepatitis B, HPV.

Testing can be done, sometimes on a urine sample (chlamydia and gonorrhoea) though your doctor will probably want to examine you to see if there are any visible signs of STI. If symptoms occur with STI, it might be discharge, itching, skin irritation or painful urination. Whether or not you have symptoms or (think) you have been exposed, come and see us in our Sydney sexual health clinic to discuss your risk and whether a screening and treatment is necessary.

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