Your Sexual Health
Your sexual health needs and wellbeing are important. Looking after your sexual health can have a positive impact on your mental and overall physical health and because people under 25 are one of the groups at increased risk of being infected with an STI. Below you can read some more about the different types of STI you should be aware of. Up to a quarter of students may catch an STI during their time at university, and many of these - such as chlamydia - commonly show no symptoms. Left untreated, STIs can severely impact your health and even cause fertility problems in later life. If you're worried you have got an STI, go for a check-up at a sexual health clinic as soon as you can and don't have sex, including oral sex, without a condom until you have had a check-up.
Accessing Free STI kits
You can find the Welfare & Support Centre in the Support & Advice Hub (Ground Floor at the Students' Union) where you can come in and talk to a member of staff, as well as pick up free STI tests, condoms, pregnancy tests, and other handy resources.
Not on campus? HIV and DIY STI kit offer is available by post. The organisation Shine is also able to drop off to any women in the city condoms, lube, and sanitary products. They are also offering one to support and advise, just by phone or online. You can visit their websites here: MESMAC & Shine. You can find the full list of services that can also operate virtually in Newcastle here.
Worried you have an STI?
If you're worried because you think you've got an STI, go for a check-up at a sexual health clinic as soon as you can. Do not have sex, including oral sex, without using a condom until you've had a check-up. You can have an STI without knowing it and infect your partner during sex. Call a sexual health clinic if you need help or advice, but only go to a clinic if you've been told to - you can find sexual health clinic contact detail here.
What types of STIs are there?
Below is a breakdown of some of the sex-related conditions that can affect all people who are sexually active. One golden take-away is that getting tested routinely and whenever you think you may have been infected means treatment is much easier. Find out more about Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomoniasis, Genital warts, Genital herpes, Pubic lice, Scabies, Syphilis, and Human papillomavirus (HPV).
Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK.
What is it?
A bacterial infection is passed on through unprotected sex or contact with infected genital fluids.
Get tested at least once a year or if/when you suspect there is a chance you may have been infected or have symptoms. Testing is done with a urine or a swab test.
It’s a sneaky one because most people who have it don’t show symptoms meaning the infection can be spread without knowing.
If symptoms do not show, look out for; Pain when peeing, discharge, pain during sex, bleeding after sex, testicular pain.
Usually easily treated with antibiotics.
What are they?
A common STI passed on by vaginal and anal sex, sharing sex toys, and (rarely) by oral sex.
A doctor or nurse can usually diagnose warts by looking at them. You can choose to have this take place at a sexual health clinic.
1 or more painless growths or lumps around your vagina, penis, or anus, itching or mild bleeding from genitals or anus.
Includes a cream or liquid, freezing or removal.
What are they?
An STI is passed on through vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Small blisters that burst to leave red, open sores around your genitals, anus thighs or bum, tingling, itching or burning around genitals, pain when peeing, vaginal discharge.
A swab to take some fluid from a blister or sore for testing.
Symptoms can clear up by themselves but it’s important to get a diagnosis so you can prevent passing it on. Other treatments available are antiviral medicine or cream to help with any pain.
What is it?
A bacterial STI is passed on by unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, sharing sex toys.
Thick green or yellow discharge from vagina or penis, pain when peeing, and (people who menstruate) bleeding in between periods.
But many people do not experience any symptoms.
Get tested regularly. Gonorrhea can be easily diagnosed by testing a sample of discharge or testing a sample of urine.
Usually treated with antibiotics.
What is it?
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that's usually caught by having sex with someone who's infected.
The symptoms of syphilis are not always obvious and may eventually disappear, but you'll usually remain infected unless you get treated.
Some people with syphilis have no symptoms.
- small, painless sores or ulcers that typically appear on the penis, vagina, or around the anus, but can occur in other places such as the mouth
- a blotchy red rash that often affects the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
- small skin growths (similar to genital warts) that may develop on the vulva in women or around the bottom (anus) in both men and women
- white patches in the mouth
- tiredness, headaches, joint pains, a high temperature (fever) and swollen glands in your neck, groin or armpits
It can usually be cured with a short course of antibiotics.
Other Common Infections
What is it?
Cystitis is inflammation of the urinary bladder usually caused by bacteria. Cystitis is not a sexually transmitted disease, but sexual intercourse does increase the risk of cystitis (bladder infection) in women.
It's a common type of urinary tract infection (UTI), particularly in women, and is usually more of a nuisance than a cause for serious concern.
- pain, burning, or stinging when you pee
- needing to pee more often and urgently than normal
- feeling like you need to pee again soon after going to the toilet
- urine that's dark, cloudy, or strong-smelling
- pain low down in your tummy
- feeling generally unwell, achy, sick, and tired
There are lots of self-care tips online to help with cystitis.
If you see a GP and they diagnose you with cystitis, you'll usually be prescribed a course of antibiotics to treat the infection.
Thrush is a common yeast infection that affects men and women. It's usually harmless but it can be uncomfortable and keep coming back. It is not classed as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but can be triggered by sex.
Sexual health clinics can help with thrush.
Thrush symptoms in females
- white vaginal discharge (often like cottage cheese), which does not usually smell
- itching and irritation around the vagina
- soreness and stinging during sex or when you pee
Thrush symptoms in males
- irritation, burning, and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin
- a white discharge (like cottage cheese)
- an unpleasant smell
- difficulty pulling back the foreskin
What are the Symptoms?
If you’ve recently had sex and notice something feels off, such as discomfort, irritation, or sores, it’s essential you talk to a doctor or nurse as soon as possible - you can find sexual health clinic contact detail here. Many STIs show no symptoms, so you can’t ever be 100% sure you’re not infected just by how you look or feel. That’s why it’s essential to always use contraception/protection and get regularly tested at your local sexual health clinic. Your local center in Newcastle is New Croft House.
Getting tested might sound intimidating, but don’t worry! The most common STIs can be easily cured or managed with antibiotics and treatment. The longer you put it off, however, the more you risk your health and the health of your partners.
Sexuality & STI's
It doesn't matter what your gender or sexual orientation is. STIs are transferred through physical contact and bodily fluids, meaning that as long as you're sexually active, you can catch and transmit an STI. You can find out more about the different types of STIs and how they are transmitted at the NHS website here.
Free Contraception at the Students' Union
As part of our sexual health initiative, we have made free contraception available at the Students' Union. You can find the Welfare & Support Centre in the Support & Advice Hub (Ground Floor at the Students' Union) where you can come in and talk to a friendly member of staff, as well as pick up free STI tests, condoms, pregnancy tests, and other handy resources. If you have any questions, you can email us here.
Accessing Emergency Contraception
If you have had unprotected sex where there is a risk of pregnancy, or you think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception up to 5 days afterward to prevent pregnancy.
Plan B in the Community: You can access free emergency contraception from most community pharmacies in Newcastle. Ask for Plan B to ensure that you are not charged. This is for those at risk of pregnancy at any age - including those over 25. You can get details of your nearest pharmacist by visiting the NHS Choices website. All of the pharmacies that offer Plan B (free emergency contraception) are listed here.
New Croft Centre: You can access free emergency contraception from the New Croft Centre. They are also doing telephone consultations to issue emergency contraception. Call 0191 229 2999 between 8.30am and 4pm Monday-Friday. You will either be able to have the emergency contraception delivered to you or you will be given a time slot for you to pick it up from the New Croft Centre or from one of the Community Family Hubs. If you are a young person under 25, Streetwise may be able to deliver it to your home once it has been issued by a nurse.
Ponteland Road Urgent Treatment Centre: You can access free emergency contraception and pregnancy testing with no need for an appointment at the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC). Find all of their details, opening times and contacts here. Please note that this is the only walk-in / urgent treatment centre currently operating a service in Newcastle, so it may be very busy.
If you are pregnant and are considering your choices there are support services available. You can book in with your GP to have the pregnancy confirmed and plan your pregnancy care. If you are considering a termination of pregnancy, you can contact the services below to talk through your options.