STD testing

Sexually Transmitted Diseases – When to See a Doctor

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are gotten through sexual contact with the bacteria, parasites or viruses present in an infected person’s semen, blood, vaginal fluid and other body fluids.

In some cases, the infections are transmitted through non-sexual contacts such as blood transfusions, shared needles and sharp objects or from mother to child during birthing or pregnancy.

STIs may not cause symptoms, and you can contract STIs from persons who look healthy and are unaware of the infection. Thus it is important to test yourself. For same day STI test in London you can book an appointment at Private GPs clinic.

Symptoms of STDs

STIs or STDs cause a wide range of symptoms and signs and no symptoms in some cases. This makes the infection go undetected until the infection causes complications or your partner gets diagnosed.

Some symptoms and signs of STIs include:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Bumps or sores on the oral, rectal or genital area
  • Penile discharge
  • Fever
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Unusual or smelly vaginal discharge
  • Rash on the feet, hands or trunk
  • Swollen, sore lymph nodes, especially in the groins

The symptoms and signs may show some days after getting infected, but some years may pass before the symptoms become noticeable, depending on which organism is responsible for the infection.

When you should see your doctor

Ensure you see your doctor immediately in the following situations.

  • You notice signs and symptoms of an STI
  • You are active sexually and may have had exposure to the STI

Schedule an appointment with your doctor;

  • Before you start engaging in sexual intercourse with a new person
  • When you want to become active sexually or when you’re 21, depending on which comes first


STIs or STDs may result from the following.

  • Bacteria

Bacterial STDs include syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea

  • Parasites

Trichomoniasis results from a parasite infection

  • Viruses

Genital herpes, HIV and HPV are examples of viral STDs,

Other infections include hepatitis B, A and C, giardia, and shigella infections. These infections are transmitted through sexual and non-sexual intercourse.

Risk factors

Any sexually active person has some risk of exposure to STDs. However, the following factors can increase the risk of contracting STDs.

  • Unprotected sex

Penetration through the vagina or anus by an infected person who isn’t wearing a latex condom increases the risk of contracting an STD. Inconsistently and improperly using condoms also increases the STD risks.

Although oral sex has less risks, the transmission of an infection is possible without dental dams or latex condoms. Dental dams are a thin, square pieces of rubber made with silicone or latex.

  • Having sex with multiple sex partners

Having sex with more people increases your risk of contracting STDs.

  • History of STDs

When you’ve had an STI makes contracting other STIs easier.

  • Having sex against your will

Getting through an assault or rape experience can be difficult, but ensure you consult a doctor for screening, emotional support and treatment.

  • Using recreational drugs or alcohol misuse

Misusing substances can impede your judgement, making you willing to engage in risky behaviours.

  • Injecting drugs

Sharing needles account for several cases of infections, including hepatitis C and B, and HIV.

  • Being young

About half of new STI infections affect people between 15 – 24 years.

STD transmission from mother to infants 

Some STIs like chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV can be transmitted from a mother to her child during childbirth or pregnancy. STDs in children can result in serious complications or lead to death. Pregnant women need screening for STIs and treatment if necessary.


Since most STIs do not show symptoms in their early stages, screening for STDs is necessary to prevent some complications such as:

  • Eye inflammation
  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Certain cancers like HPV-rated rectal and cervical cancers
  • Heart disease
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Arthritis


Different ways are available to reduce the risk of STD and avoid them.

  • Abstinence

The safest method for STI prevention is abstaining (avoiding) from sex

  • Have an uninfected partner

An effective way of preventing STIs is being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.

  • Wait and get tested

Consider avoiding anal and vaginal intercourse with a new sex partner until you get tested for STIs. You may decide to get same day STD testing if you do not want to wait long. Oral sex has less risks, but consider using latex condoms or dental dams to prevent skin-to-skin contact between genital and oral mucous membranes.

  • Vaccination

Receiving the necessary vaccines before exposure to sex is an effective option for preventing some STIs. Vaccines for preventing hepatitis A, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) are available.

Experts recommend HPV vaccines for boys and girls between 11 – 12 years, but the vaccine is available from nine years until 26 years.

Vaccine for hepatitis B is available for newborns, and one-year-olds can get the vaccine for hepatitis A. These vaccines are recommended for persons who are not immune to these infections and at an increased risk for the infection, including IV drug users and men who engage in sex with men.   

  • Consistent and correct use of dental dams and condoms

Ensure you use a new dental dam or latex condom for each sexual activity, whether vaginal, oral or anal sex. Avoid using an oil-based lubricant like petroleum jelly with a dental dam or latex condom.

Avoid using condoms made with natural membranes because they are ineffective at preventing STDs. Although latex condoms limit your risk of exposure to many STIs, they offer reduced protection against STIs that involve exposed genital sores like herpes and HPV. Using non-barrier contraception like intrauterine devices and birth control pills offer no protection against STIs.

  • Avoid excessive alcohol and use of drugs

Being alcohol or drug influence increases your chances of engaging in risky behaviours.

  • Communicate

Before engaging in sexual activity with a new partner, communicate about safe sexual practices. Ensure you agree on specific activities you want to engage in and those you find unsafe.

  • Consider male circumcision

Evidence shows that circumcision in men can reduce the risk of getting HIV from women infected with HIV by about 60%. Circumcision in men can also help to prevent genital herpes and genital HPV transmission.

  • Consider taking preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

Two combination medications are available for reducing the risk of HIV infection in people with a high risk of contracting the infection. These medications include emtricitabine plus tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (Descovy) and emtricitabine plus tenofovir disproxil fumarate (Truvada).

You may get a prescription for these HIV prevention medications if you do not have HIV. Before taking the medications, you need HIV testing and subsequent tests after three months when you are on the medications.

You will also get a kidney function test before your doctor prescribes Truvada and subsequent kidney tests every six months. If you are infected with hepatitis B, a liver specialist or an infectious disease specialist will evaluate you before the therapy.

You need to take the medications daily as prescribed by your doctor. Taking Truvada medication can reduce the risk of contracting HIV through sex by about 99% and 74% from injection drugs. Research suggests that Descovy effectively reduces the risk of contracting HIV through sex, but there are no studies of Descovy in persons who engage in receptive vaginal sex. Additional protection from condoms can also reduce the risk of HIV and other STIs.

For more information on sexually transmitted infections or to schedule an appointment for STD testing, you can also visit our website .