Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Check if it's a sexually transmitted infection (STI)

Symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can include:

How soon symptoms appear depends on the type of STI you have.

Many STIs have no symptoms. This means you can have an STI without knowing it and infect your partner during sex.

The only way to know for sure is to get tested.


STIs can take up to 7 weeks after you have unprotected sex to show up on a test. If you do not have symptoms, it’s best to wait 7 weeks before getting tested.

Find out more about STI testing from Brook, including how long to wait before doing an STI test.

Non-urgent advice: Go to a sexual health clinic if:

  • you think you may have an STI
  • a sexual partner has symptoms of an STI
  • you're worried after having sex without a condom
  • you're pregnant with symptoms of an STI
  • you're having casual sex without a condom with new partners – you may be at risk of HIV and other STIs

Do not have sex, including oral sex, without using a condom until you've had a check-up or been tested.

Why you should go to a sexual health clinic

You can see a GP, but they'll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you have an STI.

You do not usually need a GP referral or an appointment for a sexual health clinic, but contact the clinic first to check.

Doctors and healthcare professionals are there to help you, so try not to feel uncomfortable about sharing information about your sexual activities or sexuality.

You do not need to give your real name or tell staff the name of your GP surgery if you do not want to. No information about your visit to the clinic will be shared with the GP or anyone else outside the clinic unless you ask for it to be.

You can ask to see a female or male doctor or nurse if you wish.

What happens at a sexual health clinic

If you think you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), the doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic:

These tests can include:

Some clinics offer home testing kits for some STIs.

If tests show you have an STI, you should tell your current sexual partner, or partners, and any ex-partners so they can get tested and treated as well.

If you do not want to do this, the clinic can usually do it for you without naming you.

Treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) need treatment. The treatment you have will depend on which STI you have.

Many STIs are treated with antibiotics.

Always finish the course of treatment prescribed for you or it may not work properly.

Do not have sex (including oral sex) until you and your partner or partners have finished treatment.


If you need treatment, it’s important to tell your current and previous sexual partner (or partners). Sexual health clinics may be able to help you contact them anonymously.

Common types of sexually transmitted infection (STI)

There are different types of sexually transmitted infection (STI), including:

Page last reviewed: 13 May 2024
Next review due: 13 May 2027