Sexually Transmitted Infections

What is a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Some infections can pass to another person through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. Infections spread in this way are known as sexually transmitted infections. If you are sexually active, the only way to avoid STIs is by practicing safer sex - safer sex involves using condoms correctly every time you have sex. If you don’t use a condom you are much more at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.

STIs don't discriminate by age, sex or marital status. Having sexual intercourse puts you at risk of a numerous STIs - many of which are "silent" infections, which means there are no symptoms to alert you that anything is wrong.

Some STIs are merely irritating, others increase your risk of cancer and infertility and some, such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), can kill you. Marie Stopes Vietnam clinics can help you learn to protect yourself against STIs.

Our staff provide reproductive health and family planning services in a professional, friendly, non-judgmental and confidential environment.

Call our Client Care Centre on 1900 55 88 82 for information and booking.

How do I avoid STIs?
Don't have sex with someone who won't wear a condom, is doing drugs, or has a STI.
Use only water-based lubricants like K-Y Jelly or Liquid. Other products can cause the condom to weaken and break.
Limit the number of people you have sex with. The more sexual partners you have, the greater your chances of contracting an STI.
Be sure the condom covers the whole penis. If it doesn't, it won't provide enough protection.
Visit Marie Stopes International clinics for an annual Pap smear and STI check-up (or as often as you  are being advised). Early treatment can cure many STIs and reduce the impact of others.

Can they be treated?

Most sexually transmitted infections can be treated and it is usually best if treatment is started as soon as possible. For some infections, such as HIV and herpes, there is currently no cure but there are drugs available that can reduce the symptoms and help prevent or delay the development of complications. If left untreated, many sexually transmitted infections can be painful or uncomfortable, and can permanently damage your health and fertility, and can be passed on to someone else.

How will I know if I have an infection?
- Not everyone who has a sexually transmitted infection has signs/and or symptoms. Sometimes these don’t appear for weeks or months and sometimes they go away, but you can still have the infection and pass it on to someone else. If you experience any of the following you should seek advice:
  Unusual discharge from the vagina
  Discharge from the penis
  Pain or burning when you pass urine
  Itches, rashes, lumps or blisters around the genitals or anus
  Pain and/or bleeding during sex
  Bleeding between periods (including women who are using hormonal contraception)
  Bleeding after sexPain in the testicles or lower abdomen.

- Even if you don’t have any signs and/or symptoms you may wish to seek advice or have a check-up, particularly if:
  You have had unprotected sex with a new partner recently
  You or your sexual partner have sex with other people without using a condom
  Your sexual partner has any symptoms
  You are planning a pregnancy and may have been at risk of infection

How will I be tested for sexually transmitted infections?

  Tests for both men and women may include:
  Physical exam — Your health care provider may look at your genitals and/or your anus for any signs of an infection, such as a rash, discharge, sores, or warts. For women, this exam can be similar to a pelvic exam.
  Blood sample — Your provider may take a blood sample, either with a needle or by pricking the skin to draw drops of blood.
  Urine sample — You may be asked to urinate into a special cup.
  Discharge, tissue, cell, or saliva sample — Your provider will use a swab to collect samples that will be looked at under a microscope.


What Is it?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus which damages the body's immune system. When someone has AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) it means they are HIV+ and have gone on to get a series of serious illnesses. HIV can be passed on by having sex without a condom with someone who has HIV. HIV is only passed on through bodily fluids and blood, for example through sex, injecting drugs or from mothers to their unborn children.

How can I tell if I've got it?
You can't. The only way to then tell if you have HIV is to have a blood test.

What will clear it up?

At present there is no cure for HIV or AIDS but new combination therapies mean improved management of the illness.

What is it?
This is the most common STI amongst young women and men. It's caused by a bacteria, which if left untreated can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (a disease which infects your pelvic region and can lead to infertility in women and men).

How can I tell if I've got it?
In 15 - 20% of cases there will be symptoms five to ten days after infection. However, MOST people do not get any symptoms.

What will clear it up?
Antibiotics after a simple chlamydia test.


What are they?
Genital warts are small fleshy lumps. They appear around your genitals and are caused by a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV).

How can I tell if I've got them?
There are often no symptoms, or the warts develop inside the vagina (usually on the cervix) so you can't see them. If they do appear they may itch but are usually painless.

What will clear them up?
If you have been infected the good news is that in many cases the body's immune system will cause most warts to disappear without treatment after 6 months, though large visible warts need to be treated. You will be given a special lotion which you will be asked to apply to the warts. If this doesn’t clear the warts, stronger lotions may be used. Occasionally, warts may be frozen or burned off and this is not usually painful.


What is it?
There are two types of herpes which cause small, painful blisters. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Type 1 which usually causes cold sores and HSV Type II which causes genital sores. Herpes Type 1 is passed by kissing and herpes Type II is passed through sex. Though Type 1 can become Type II, through oral sex.

How can I tell if I've got it?
Look for small, painful clusters of sores.

What will clear it up?
There is no cure for herpes.

How is it diagnosed?
A sample may be taken for testing or a doctor may know just by looking. Remember, herpes is highly infectious and during an outbreak you should avoid sex and kissing (if you have cold sores). Outbreaks are treated with salt baths and/or medication.

What is it?
Gonorrhea is a disease caused by a bacteria. The danger of this is, if left undiagnosed, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

How can I tell if I've got it?

In five out of every six cases, there are no symptoms. Symptoms to look for are a discharge and a burning sensation when urinating.

What will clear it up?

What is it?
An infection caused by a bacteria which left untreated can have very serious consequences.

How can I tell if I've got it?
A sore on your genitals, and a rash. If left untreated the symptoms become severe.

What will clear it up?
Syphilis can be cured with one course of antibiotics.

What is it?
Pubic lice are small insects that are spread through sex and intimate contact (bedding, towels etc).

How can I tell if I've got it?

You'll have severe itching throughout your pubic region.

What will clear it up?
Usually a doctor will be able to tell if you have pubic lice and will prescribe a lotion to kill them off.


What is it?
This is an infection which affects the vagina, cervix, urethra and bladder.

How can I tell if I've got it?

Females - look for a greenish-yellow discharge with a strong and offensive smell, itching of the vagina and a burning when urinating. Boys/men have no symptoms.

What will clear it up?

A swab will be taken and antibacterial drugs prescribed.

What is it?
This is a serious condition that causes inflammation of the liver caused by a virus passed on through vaginal or anal intercourse.

How can I tell if I've got it?
Usually there are no symptoms but look for unusual tiredness.

What will clear it up?
There is no effective cure, but it some cases your body fights off the virus and the infection goes away.

What is a reproductive tract infection (RTI)?
Reproductive tract infections (RTIs) are defined as any infections of the reproductive system. They include three types of infections;
- Endogenous infections. Resulting from an overgrowth of organisms normally present in the vagina. They are easily treated and cured.
- Iatrogenic infections. Resulting from an infection introduced by a medical procedure such as abortion, IUD insertion or during childbirth.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) See above.

Although RTIs affect both women and men, research shows that women are more susceptible to infection and often less likely to seek treatment than men. In addition, complications can be more serious in women and infections can be transmitted to the offspring of pregnant women.

The symptoms associated with STIs and other RTIs vary from none to severe. You cannot always tell if a person has an STI, and people without symptoms often transmit the infection to others unknowingly. Regular gynaecological checks for all sexually active women are important for early detection of RTIs.

Marie Stopes Vietnam provides reproductive health and family planning services in a professional, friendly, non-judgmental and confidential environment.

Call our Client Care Centre on at 1900 55 88 82 for information and booking.




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