What are STIs?

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections or diseases that are passed through sexual contact. They can be transmitted between people of any gender.

STIs are generally rising in Australia, but many cases show no symptoms. You may not know if you have an STI. Some signs that you may have an STI include:

  • Discharge of fluid from your genitals
  • Pain or discomfort, especially when urinating or having sex
  • An ulcer, rash, or redness on or around your genitals

It is important to get tested regularly if you are engaging in sexual activity, especially if you are having sexual contact with different people.

All STIs are treatable, and most are curable. Seeking treatment early from your GP or a sexual health clinic is important for your general health.


Read Transcript

STIs stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. As the name implies, these are infections that are gotten through sexual contact. And this could be woman to woman, man to man, (heterogenous or otherwise) or it could be via vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex. So there are lots of pathways through which you can get a sexually transmitted infection.

What is the most common STI?

Chlamydia is the most common STI. 75% of chlamydia infections are asymptomatic, but some signs may include:

  • Unusual-coloured discharge (fluid) from the genitals
  • An ulcer (open, red, painful wound) on the genitals
  • Pelvic pain

It’s good to know what is ‘normal’ for your body so that you are aware of any changes that may occur. Always see your doctor if something is different or causing concern.

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Read Transcript

If I was in a situation where there are certain symptoms, that is one question I would want to address. And number two, generally speaking, sexually transmitted infections are on the rise. And this does not mean all 30 of them that I'm talking about, but in general the number of them are rising. Now it may be that we are testing more, and perhaps previously because a large number of these are actually asymptomatic.

So that's another really key point. Please don't think that just because you don't have any symptoms that you are safe from this... It's actually a monster. Because it can have short-term consequences, it can have long-term side consequences.

So for example, the most common sexually transmitted infection that I see (and is the standard statistic) is chlamydia. Three-quarters of chlamydia infections are asymptomatic. Those women will have no clue that they have this disease.

Other things that may give clues that something is wrong could be an ulcer down below in the vulva/vaginal area (for many it might be penile); discharge or an abnormal vaginal discharge. Often it's good to be in tune with your body as to what is your 'normal baseline' and that helps you identify if some change from that baseline has occurred. So if there's a copious amount of vaginal discharge, if it's yellowish, greenish, a bit frothy; it's itchy or I've got an ulcer; bleeding that is irregular, especially bleeding after sex or bleeding between periods; or pain, pelvic pain.

And so back to chlamydia as an example, this is a simple infection to identify, but it's a battle both for you as a patient and a woman at the centre of our care and also for our clinicians to ask.