Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Page last reviewed: 13/07/2011

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases passed on through intimate sexual contact. They can be passed on during vaginal, anal and oral sex, as well as through genital contact with an infected partner. Common STIs in Ireland include chlamydia, genital warts and gonorrhoea.

How common are they?

In Ireand,there were 10.834 notifications of STIs in 2009.Chlamydia was the most common STI in Ireland in 2009 ,accounting for 53.4% of all STI notifications. Just under three-quarters of infections were among those less than 30 years old.The largest increase in the number of notifications was seen for syphilis.

More information on STIs

For more information on the most common STIs, see:

If you have suffered an injury (needle stick or other sharps injury, sexual exposure, human bites, exposure of broken skin or of mucous membranes) where there is a risk of transmission of blood borne viruses and other infections, further information on how to manage your situation is at: www.emitoolkit.ie

Page last reviewed: 13/07/2011

There are a number of places where you can get screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including STI clinics, some GP surgeries, Well-Woman clinics and Irish Family Planning Association clinics.

Most STIs are initially diagnosed when you experience symptoms. Other STIs are difficult to diagnose because they often do not show any symptoms when a person is first infected. These include chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital herpes. Because of this you should get tested for STIs if:

  • you have had unprotected sex with a new partner recently
  • you or your sexual partner have had unprotected sex with other people without using a condom
  • your sexual partner has symptoms
  • you are planning a pregnancy and have been at risk of infection

Testing

Tests for both men and women may include:

  • an examination of your genitals, mouth, anus, rectum and skin to look for signs of infection
  • a urine sample
  • a blood test
  • taking swabs from the urethra (tube where you urinate) and any sores or blisters
  • taking swabs from the throat and the rectum, although this is less common

For women the tests might also include:

  • taking swabs from the vagina and cervix (entrance to the womb)
  • having an examination of your vagina

Confidentiality

All sexual health services are confidential. This means that your personal information, any information about your visit and the tests and treatments that you have will not be shared with anyone outside that service without your permission.

Informing your partner

As STIs are easily passed on through sexual contact, if you have a positive diagnosis for an STI it is important your current and past sexual partners are notified so they can be tested and treated. This will reduce the risk of spreading and re-infection.

If you do not want to contact your previous partners yourself your local STI clinic can notify them on your behalf by sending out a contact slip that asks the person to go for a check up at their GP or local sexual health clinic. This will not give your details and will not necessarily say what the infection is that they may be at risk of having.

Useful Links

If you have suffered an injury (needle stick or other sharps injury, sexual exposure, human bites, exposure of broken skin or of mucous membranes) where there is a risk of transmission of blood borne viruses and other infections, further information on how to manage your situation is at: www.emitoolkit.ie

Page last reviewed: 13/07/2011

The best prevention against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is to not have sexual intercourse or to be in a long term relationship with one person where you have both had a sexual health check up and know that you are not infected.

Other ways to prevent STIs include:

Using a condom: using a male condom is the most effective form of protection against STIs when having sexual intercourse. Female condoms are also available but these are not quite as effective. Make sure the condom you use is within its use-by date printed on the packet and it is put on the penis properly. If you are not in a long-term relationship be prepared and have condoms ready to use when you need them.

Limiting your number of partners: the less sexual partners you have, the more you reduce your risk of contracting an STI. Remember that if your partner has sex with other people this will also increase your risk of contracting an STI.

Being sensible: drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs can cloud your judgement. You may make decisions you regret the next day, such as having unprotected sex, which put you at risk of contracting an STI.

Leaving out the intercourse: have fun in other ways with your partner. You can touch, cuddle, give each other massages and share your sexual fantasies all without having intercourse and being at risk of contracting an STI. Any kind of genital rubbing or oral sex still comes with a risk and some sort of barrier protection, such as a condom or dam, should be used.

Get tested: you can never be 100% sure that a prospective sexual partner does not have an STI, and the more sexual partners that you or they have had, the higher the risk of contracting an STI. If you have a new partner, you should both get tested for STIs before having sexual intercourse.

Be aware: if you think you may have contracted an STI, visit your local sexual health or genitourinary (GUM) clinic to have a check up.

Useful Links

If you have suffered an injury (needle stick or other sharps injury, sexual exposure, human bites, exposure of broken skin or of mucous membranes) where there is a risk of transmission of blood borne viruses and other infections, further information on how to manage your situation is at: www.emitoolkit.ie

Page last reviewed: 13/07/2011

There are lots of places you can access advice and information about sexual health, such as:

  • your local GP
  • contraception (family planning) clinics
  • STI clinics clinics
  • pharmacists: some pharmacists are able to provide a range of sexual health services including some tests

 

Useful Links

If you have suffered an injury (needle stick or other sharps injury, sexual exposure, human bites, exposure of broken skin or of mucous membranes) where there is a risk of transmission of blood borne viruses and other infections, further information on how to manage your situation is at: www.emitoolkit.ie

Content provided by NHS Choices www.nhs.uk and adapted for Ireland by the Health A-Z.

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