Sexually Transmitted Infections
Remember the importance of protecting yourself against sexually transmitted infections
STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are infections that are passed from one person to another through unprotected genital-to-genital contact, exchange of bodily fluids or through skin-to-skin contact. There are at least 25 different types of STIs. All of them are serious but most are completely treatable. They can, however, cause long-term problems if they aren't diagnosed and treated properly. If you are having sex you should have regular check-ups for STIs. The most common STIs in Ireland are chlamydia and genital warts.
What is an STI and who can catch one?
Most STIs are infections that pass from person to person through sexual activity without protection (those super handy condoms again!). It is possible to catch an STI from vaginal, anal and oral sex or from touching each other’s genitals or mutual masturbation. Having unprotected sex even ONCE can put you at risk of getting an STI, so make sure you use a condom every time you have vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex performed on a penis, and use a dental dam every time you have oral sex performed on a vagina or anus.
You can't tell by looking at someone if they have an STI
Even if you are in a faithful relationship for ages, one of you can still have an STI and pass it on. This is because STIs can be dormant (non-active) in your body for a long time before the symptoms appear. If you have an STI it's important that you tell your partner and ex-partners so that they can also get a check-up.
Get checked if you've had unprotected sex
If you've had unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) go for a check-up immediately. Getting tested is quick, easy and painless. Check out our list of all the free clinics in Ireland here.
Not everyone will have symptoms if they have a STI, but if you experience the following, go for a check up immediately:
- An unusual discharge/ liquid or smell from your vagina, penis or bum.
- Blisters, boils, lumps, swelling or itching in or around your vagina, penis or bum.
- Burning or painful feeling when you pee.
- Pain during sex.
The symptoms are different for every STI and you might have one of these symptoms without suffering from an STI. Other STIs have no obvious symptoms at all. If you have any worry at all that you might be infected, then get tested!
Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.