What are STIs?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that spread from person to person through intimate contact. This includes oral sex (blowjobs & lick-outs), vaginal and anal intercourse, and also through skin-to-skin genital contact.
Some STIs will give you symptoms like itching around the genitals and pain when you pee, but a lot of the time people don’t get any symptoms at all, and then don’t know that they have anything. That is why it is SO important to go for regular STI tests (every 6 months). If STIs are left untreated, some can cause serious health problems, such as infertility (not being able to have a baby) and even death (in the case of untreated HIV, which leads to AIDS).
Don’t panic! All STIs can be treated, and most can be cured. Getting an STI is nothing to be ashamed of, it can happen no matter how many people you have had sex with or how many times you have had sex. It has nothing to do with someone being unhygienic – unfortunately these myths have been around for a long time! The risk of STIs is part of the reality of being sexually active. It is important to be able to talk openly about STIs as we would any other infection or illness, free from shame. The golden rules worth remembering are; get tested regularly, get treated, use barrier protection during all kinds of sex (condoms or dental dams), communicate with sexual partners, never disclose someone elses’s STI status (or spread rumours!) and ditch the STI stigma!