Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be passed on through any form of sexual contact. Anyone can acquire an STI and pass it on. There are about 25 different kinds of STI. STIs are sometimes also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
How will I know I have an STI?
You may not know that you or your partner has an STI. It isn’t always obvious. But some of the more common symptoms of an STI are:
- pain when you pee
- unusual discharge from the vagina or penis
- pain during or after sex
- bleeding between periods
- pain in the lower abdomen or testicles
- a rash, irritation, blisters, sores or pain around the vagina or penis.
Having one of these symptoms does not mean that you have an STI. The only way to know for sure is to have a test. But remember, some STIs don’t have any symptoms, so it’s a good idea to have a test just to make sure.
Protect yourself against STIs
The best way to avoid an STI is to use a condom every time you have sex, especially if you have a new partner.
If you have unprotected sex of any kind, including oral sex, you could catch an STI. Don’t leave it to chance – get checked out! Ask for a confidential check–up at a sexual health clinic.
NHS Choices website or at East Sussex Sexual Health
Find your nearest sexual health clinic on the NHS Choices website
The Circle Room
The Circle Room run free, confidential sexual health drop-in clinics in Lewes and Rye. They provide contraception, STI screening and treatment.
The Lewes clinic is at the School Hill Surgery on Tuesdays from 3.30pm-6.00pm and the Rye clinic is at the Rye Medical Centre, also on Tuesdays from 3.30pm-5.30pm by appointment or walk-in.
If you'd like to make an appointment call:
- Lewes - 01273 480888
Anchor Sexual Health
Confidential clinic for all ages based at the Anchor Healthcare Centre in Peacehaven. The clinic is open every Monday, from 5pm-8pm.
Come in or book an appointment:
- Call: 01273 588200
- Address: Meridian Surgery, Meridian Way, Peacehaven, BN10 8NF
- Or visit the website
If you have been diagnosed with an STI at a sexual health clinic, they will give you medication there. It’s free and you will get it on the spot – so you don’t have to take a prescription to a chemist or pharmacy.
Chlamydia (kla-mid-ee-a) is the most common STI diagnosed in young people – you’ve probably all heard of it by now! You can catch chlamydia from sexual contact even if you don’t have penetrative sex.
Chlamydia can cause painful testicles and pain when you have sex for men, but it usually has no symptoms. You can often have it without knowing. It can cause infertility in men and women if it’s not treated, which means you might have problems when trying for a baby later in life.
You can get tested at a sexual health clinic or you can order your own free kit to test yourself at home via freetest.me or Chlamydia Free
Phone: 08000 612 668 - 24 hour answerphone
The good news is that chlamydia is easy to test for and easy to treat and cure. You take the test yourself: boys pee in a pot and girls take their own swab, which is a bit like using a tampon. The treatment is a one-off dose of antibiotics, which are free.
Read more about other STIs and their symptoms on the Brook website