There are many symptoms that may or may not mean that you have an STI
Some STIs can be much more serious than others. At our services, we concentrate on dealing with the more serious STIs, especially those where a delay in treatment could result in long term harm to health. These infections are HIV, syphilis and gonorrhoea
At our services, testing and treatment is also provided for chlamydia, herpes, and genital warts but your GP will also usually be able to treat these conditions
Sometimes the symptoms will not be due to an STI at all; for example many rashes that affect the genital area.
Symptoms that worry us:
- Single ulcers on the genitals
Single ulcers (sores) on the penis make us worried about syphilis, especially if there is no pain. Painful ulcers may be due to herpes.
- Pelvic pain – mainly if an STI is more likely as a cause.
There are many causes of pain in the lower stomach in women, for example diseases of the bowel, period pains and many gynaecological conditions. Some STIs such as gonorrhoea, or very occasionally chlamydia, can spread up into the fallopian tubes and cause lower stomach pain and/or deep pain during sex. If you have pain like this and think you have been at risk for an STI, come to our walk-in clinic or phone for advice (0131 536 1070).
- Discharge from the end of the penis with or without discomfort passing urine.
This usually means that you have an STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Come to our walk-in clinic or phone for advice
- Possible epididymo-orchitis
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia usually affect just the urethra (pee-hole) in men, but sometimes infection can spread to the testicle and or epididymis (the small nobbly bit next to the testicle). This will cause painful swelling for which you should seek treatment urgently. Come to our walk-in clinic or phone for advice.
Symptoms that worry both you and us
- Multiple painful genital ulcers
This usually indicates genital herpes. Sometimes the ulcers are
itchy before they become sore. Women tend to get pain on passing urine
because this stings the ulcers. Milder cases can be treated by your GP.
If you are getting significant problems, come to our walk-in clinic or
phone for advice.
Symptoms that worry you more than they worry us:
- Spots or lumps on the genitals
The most common cause of new spots or lumps on the genitals is warts. Another fairly common cause is molluscum. Sometimes, teenage men notice lumps that are completely normal. This is a useful site for looking at real pictures of what is normal and natural lumps and bumps http://www.chestersexualhealth.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/STIs.pdf
Genital skin is very sensitive, and itch is often a sign that you are doing something or using something that is irritating the skin. Itch in men is seldom related to an STI, with the rare exception of pubic lice (“crabs”). Itch in women if often due to thrush for which you can get treatment at a Chemists or your GP
- Change in vaginal bleeding pattern
If you have changed your method of contraception, you may notice a change in bleeding pattern. Chlamydia can sometimes cause a little bit of bleeding after sex or between periods, so get tested for this if you have had unprotected sex with a new sexual partner.
Symptoms that are not usually a sign of anything serious
- Change in vaginal discharge
Change in vaginal discharge is often due to changes in hormone
levels, for example by using a new method of contraception or pregnancy.
A sudden change may mean there is a minor infection such as bacterial
vaginosis or thrush, for which you can get treated by your GP. If it is a
new or changed discharge and you have recently (in the last 3 months)
had sex with a new partner, come to our walk-in clinic. We can usually
treat discharge on the day you come to the clinic.
- Painless rash on the genitals
The skin of the genitals can be affected by “ordinary” skin
problems such as eczema, psoriasis or minor fungal infections. You GP
can usually diagnose and treat these
- Intermittent genital pain in men
Sometimes men feel intermittent discomfort at the tip of the penis,
in one or both testicles (without any swelling) or in the lower
abdomen. This is quite common but very seldom caused by an STI