By Jessie Burnette
Aug 12, 2019

Check Yo’self

Grow The Fuck Up

Nobody wants an STI – even the mention of them tends to make us a bit uncomfortable. That said, more than half of us will get an STI at least once in our lives, and it’s most likely to happen between the ages of 18-25. So let’s be brave and get familiar with the most common STIs in NZ.

Quick Facts:
  • Many STIs, including all of the ones below, can be transmitted without penetrative sex.  
  • Condoms and dental dams massively reduce your risk, but it’s still possible to get an STI while using them.
  • Many STIs go unnoticed.
  • You can catch the same STI more than once.

The Not-So-Fantastic Four:

Chlamydia
Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in the world - there are usually no symptoms and most people don’t know they have it.

Symptoms when noticeable:
  • Pain when peeing, unusual discharge, itching/burning genitals
  • Women: bleeding outside of period, abdominal pain
  • Men: painful or swollen testicles
Treatment is easy (oral antibiotics), but if not caught, chlamydia can cause infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease.  

HPV
While talking about potentially unnoticed infections, you can’t ignore HPV. As common as chlamydia, HPV often shows no symptoms at all.  

Symptoms when noticeable:
  • Genital warts
The dreaded genital warts often disappear on their own, and treatment is optional. Invisible HPV is the real worry - if not caught, it can develop into cancer. While symptoms can be treated, there is no cure for the virus itself. HPV is preventable if you are vaccinated - it’s free until your 27th birthday.

Herpes
For such a scary name, herpes is incredibly common. While there are different strands, oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitals and vice versa. Most symptoms are mild or invisible.

Symptoms when noticeable:
  • Blisters/sores around the genitals or anus, itching, pain when peeing, unusual discharge, flu-like symptoms
Herpes can’t be cured, but don’t freak - oral pills reduce symptoms and risk of transmission.

Gonorrhea
Nothing ending in -rrhea is good, and gonorrhea is no exception.  Luckily, this one’s harder to miss and easy to treat - a few rounds of antibiotics and you’ll be back to normal.  

Symptoms:
  • Everyone: pain when peeing, unusual discharge.
  • Women: bleeding outside of period or after sex, pain during sex, abdominal pain.
  • Men: painful or swollen testicle (usually just one).
So if your sex is on fire, you should probably get that
looked at – if untreated, gonorrhea can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, or further prostate problems for men.

Let’s face it: the odds are you or someone you know will get an STI at some point, and that’s ok. There’s no shame in getting tested and it’s not as scary as it sounds - stay safe and use protection, but get checked anyway.


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