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STI contact

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

You may have been informed that a sexual partner or ex-partner has gotten a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and you may have been put at risk, so you require treatment. This can come as a shock, whether you hear it directly from your partner, an ex-partner texts you, or you receive an anonymous text from a sexual health clinic.

But it’s better to know about this than be kept in the dark. STIs may or may not cause symptoms, but they can put you at risk of longer-term problems such as ongoing pain or infertility, and reliable treatments are available. Even if you have no symptoms, getting treatment will protect you and your future partners.

Doctor’s advice

Next steps

If a partner has said they have an STI, it’s best to get this checked out and get treated – a sexual health clinic is the best place for this. Look online for services near you, and feel reassured that it’s all confidential.

STIs are contagious, so you should be upfront with any current partners and avoid sex until treated. The clinic can advise you on timing.

If you have one partner and they have an STI that has been treated, avoid sex or use condoms until seven days after you have both been treated.

What happens at the sexual health clinic?

Make an appointment with your sexual health clinic (or doctor, if they offer these services), who can test you for STIs. For men, this will involve a urine test and blood test. For women, it’s a self-taken vaginal swab and a blood test. The blood tests screen for other STIs, namely syphilis and HIV, and possibly hepatitis B if you are believed to be at risk.

Samples will be taken, but you will be given immediate treatment before the results return. Common STIs, such as genital herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea, will respond to a short course of antibiotics, as they are bacterial infections.

What if I test positive?

The clinic will discuss any positive test results with you. If you have tested positive for gonorrhea, you will be asked to re-test via a urine result two weeks after treatment. There's no need for a re-test with a positive chlamydia result. The clinic will discuss potential sexual contacts that may have been put at risk with your STI and will discuss how to inform them – either anonymously or directly from you – to encourage them to get treatment too.

If you have a current sexual partner or partners, you should use condoms or wait for at least seven days since you have both been treated before having sex.

What if I test negative?

If you receive a negative result, you’ve already received treatment just in case, and there’s no need to inform any sexual partners or abstain from sex.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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