If you have already seen us and been treated for an STI, we realise that there is a lot of information to take in. It is not easy remembering conversations after leaving the clinic.

The guidance and information available on this page covers common STIs and should help with any concerns you have.

It is important that sexual partners are also tested and treated to prevent onward transmission. We will be able to advise which partners need to be contacted and offer support and help to do this if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Infections that we can diagnose at your first visit

Genital Warts (HPV)

Genital warts are extremely common and are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Even though they do not lead to more serious conditions such as cancer or infertility, they can cause worry and shame.

Whilst you are being treated for warts, it is important that you take care of your genital area when washing, avoiding perfumed soaps, shower and bath gels. Please see our genital care page for more advice.

 

Non-specific urethritis 
(NSU)

NSU (also known as non-gonococcal urethritis, or NGU) is an infection that can only be diagnosed in men, and only when we look at a urethral swab through a microscope.

We cannot diagnose NSU in women. It is assumed that any sexual partners will also carry the same infection, so they will need treatment as well.

It is very important that you finish your course of antibiotics.

You must not have sex for 7 days after starting treatment. If a partner is also being treated, you must not have sex until their 7 days is also complete. This means no sex of any kind, even with a condom, and no oral sex.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID is a serious condition that indicates inflammation or infection of the female reproductive system (the womb, ovaries or fallopian tubes). It is serious because in the long term it can affect fertility or lead to an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb).

You must not have sex for 7 days after starting treatment. If a partner is also being treated, you must not have sex until their 7 days is also complete. This means no sex of any kind, even with a condom, and no oral sex. We will ask you to return in 2 weeks for review.

 

Trichomonas vaginalis (TV)

Trichomonas vaginalis, or TV, is a less common STI.

You will probably be given an antibiotic called Metronidazole – it is very important that you finish the course.

With this antibiotic, you must not drink any alcohol at all – this is because of an interaction that can cause you to feel unwell and even faint.

You must not have sex for 7 days after starting treatment. If a partner is also being treated, you must not have sex until their 7 days is also complete. This means no sex of any kind, even with a condom, and no oral sex.

We may ask you to return in 2 weeks for review. You do not need to return for a ‘test of cure’ unless you still have symptoms after 2 weeks.

 

Genital Infections that require laboratory tests

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a very common STI. If treated early, it rarely causes long term problems. If treated late, or if treatment is not completed chlamydia can lead to serious problems such as infertility, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), prostate and testicular infections, arthritis and conjunctivitis (eye infection).

In pregnancy it can cause miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and premature labour.

It is very important that you complete your course of treatment. This is usually an antibiotic called doxycycline or azithromycin.

You must not have sex for 7 days after starting treatment. If a partner is also being treated, you must not have sex until their 7 days is also complete. This means no sex of any kind, even with a condom, and no oral sex.

You do not need to return to SHiP for a ‘test of cure’. Please note the chlamydia test is highly sensitive and will continue to detect chlamydia up to 6 weeks after successful treatment.

 

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a fairly common STI. If treated early, it rarely causes long-term problems. If treated late, or if treatment is not completed it can lead to serious problems such as reduced fertility, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), prostate and testicular infections, arthritis and conjunctivitis (eye infection).

In pregnancy it can cause miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or premature labour.

You will have been given an injection and/or pills on Day 1.

You must not have sex for 7 days after starting treatment. If a partner is also being treated, you must not have sex until their 7 days is also complete. This means no sex of any kind, even with a condom, and no oral sex.

We will ask you to return for repeat ‘test of cure’ samples 3 weeks after your treatment. This will determine whether the treatment has been successful. You must wait 3 weeks – any sooner and the test may give a false positive result.

 

Herpes simplex virus (HSV)

Herpes is a viral STI that causes genital blisters and ulcers that may recur again and again over your lifetime. We may tell you that we think you have herpes when we examine you in clinic and start you on herpes tablets straight away. But we have to wait a week or two for the test result to confirm that it is herpes, and whether it is Type 1 or 2.

If you start treatment it is important that you complete the course of tablets. This is usually a tablet called Aciclovir. These rarely interact with other medications and you can drink moderate amounts of alcohol whilst taking them. It does not affect the contraceptive pill or other forms of contraception.

It can be a shock to be told that you have genital herpes. The first outbreak of herpes is almost always by far the worst. As time passes we will have a clearer idea of whether you will get a recurrence of the ulcers – and if you do, how often this will happen.

Herpes medication is very effective and we can talk to you about how to take it so that symptoms are kept to a minimum.

Herpes will not affect your chances of getting pregnant and so long as the midwife knows about it should not have any effect on an unborn baby.

The National Herpes Virus Association is an excellent and trusted resource for information. They also have a helpline: 0845 123 2305 at times between 9 am and 9 pm on different days – or 020 7607 9661 Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 8 pm.

Blood-borne STIs

HIV

HIV is a viral infection that can be passed on through unprotected sex, by sharing infected injecting equipment and from an HIV positive mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Over time, HIV infection depletes the immune system’s ‘CD4’ cells which are responsible for coordinating the body’s response to infection. The individual becomes increasingly susceptible to ‘opportunistic’ infections that a healthy person would not.

Treatment for HIV is in the form of tablets taken daily, which reinstate the immune system’s functioning. Treatment also prevents transmission of the virus to sexual partners and to babies of mothers living with HIV.

The majority of people living with HIV live healthy, active lives.

See also: HIV Testing, PEP, PrEP, High-risk groups, HIV services.

 

Syphilis

Syphilis is a serious bacterial STI that if not treated or if treatment is not completed can lead to serious long-term consequences such as dementia and heart valve defects. It is also potentially harmful to an unborn baby. However, treatment usually cures syphilis.

Syphilis is treated with either a penicillin injection or doxycycline tablets. In the first 24-48 hours after treatment, you may find that you feel a little unwell, with fevers and headaches and lethargy. If this happens you can take pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

You must not have sex for 2 weeks after starting treatment. If a partner is also being treated, you must not have sex until their 2 weeks is also complete. This means no sex even with a condom, and no oral sex.

We will ask you to return for a follow-up syphilis blood test a month after treatment, then at 3 months and 1 year.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. This can make you jaundiced (skin turn yellow) and feel unwell for a few weeks. The vast majority of people recover fully but slowly within a few weeks.

The virus can be found in the faeces (poo) of somebody who has the infection, and is transmitted through contaminated food and water as well as through oral sex.

At SHiP Derriford Hospital we offer vaccination against Hepatitis A which protects you for more than 10 years. It involves a small injection in the arm, repeated after 6 months.

If you think you might have Hepatitis A or might be at risk of it, please come and see us or call us on 01752 431804. 

 

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver which can become long-term (chronic).

Most people only show symptoms for a few weeks, up to 3 months after exposure. These include fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea and jaundice (yellow skin). In around a third of cases, infection continues to progress and this can lead to serious complications such as liver failure and liver cancer.

The virus is spread through blood and bodily fluids, usually through unprotected sex (in the same way as HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis C).

The best way to avoid Hepatitis B is to use condoms.

At SHiP Derriford Hospital we offer vaccination against Hepatitis B which protects you for more than 10 years. It involves 3 or 4 small injections in the arm, over the course of the dosing schedule.

If you think you might have hepatitis B or might be at risk of it, please come and see us or call us on 01752 431804.

 

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver which can become long-term (chronic).

Most people only show symptoms for a few weeks, up to 3 months after exposure. These include fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea and jaundice (yellow skin). In more than half of cases, infection continues to progress and this can lead to serious complications such as liver failure and liver cancer.

The virus is spread through blood and bodily fluids, usually through unprotected sex (in the same way as HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B).

The best way to avoid Hepatitis C is to use condoms.

At SHiP Derriford Hospital we can offer a blood test for Hepatitis C. There is no vaccine available, but effective treatment is now available.

If you think you might have hepatitis C or might be at risk of it, please come and see us or call us on 01752 431804.