How to Tell If You Have an STI and What To Do

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection that is passed on through sexual contact with someone who is infected. Below is a list of the most common STIs and their symptoms for men and women and how they can be treated according to



Symptoms for chlamydia are not shown in half the men infected however other symptoms include, discharge from the tip of the penis, pain or discomfort passing urine, bowel symptoms such as diarrhoea, pain, mucus discharge or bleeding from the back passage, pain and swelling in the testicles.

Symptoms are not seen in 7 out of 10 women infected other symptoms includes, bleeding after sex, bleeding between periods, change in normal vaginal discharge, pain passing urine and pain in your abdomen.

This can be treated very simply by a course of antibiotics.


Genital herpes

Symptoms are multiple spots or red bumps around the genital area. You may also have swollen glands in your groin, flu-like symptoms, and a feeling of being unwell. You may also feel pain when passing urine.

The treatment usually involves antiviral tablets and sometimes painkillers. 


Genital warts​

Most people do not have any symptoms and don't know that they have the infection.

Genital warts are often flesh-coloured lumps or bumps on the skin, anywhere in the genital or anal area. They can appear weeks to months after you come into contact with the virus.

Genital warts can go away on their own without treatment, but most people prefer to get them treated through creams and lotions, freezing or sometimes surgery.



Symptoms in men include discharge from the tip of the penis and burning pain when passing urine. 1 in 10 men have no symptoms while 7 in 10 women have no symptoms and sometimes only become aware of the infection after passing it to a partner.

Gonorrhoea can be treated with antibiotics and usually consists of an injection into the bum muscle.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Symptoms include a flu-like illness when first infected. If you have these symptoms after a potential exposure to HIV, you should go for an HIV test.

HIV can be treated and managed effectively with medications.

If you test positive for HIV, you will be referred to a specialist HIV clinic, and your doctor and nurse will explain the treatment options to you.



Symptoms include an intense itch which is often worse at night or after a warm shower. You may also have a red, itchy rash or tiny red spots.

Scabies is treated with a cream, lotion or shampoo which is left on overnight and can be bought over the counter in your local pharmacy.

More information about different STI’s their symptoms and treatments can be found on the HSE website.


All STI's can be avoided by practising safe sex using a form of barrier protection such as a condom. Condoms cannot completely protect you from getting an STI, but they will significantly reduce the risk of transmission.

Treatment clinics for HIV, STIs and Hepatitis are still operating at some level during the pandemic although testing has been significantly reduced.

DCU students asked about how they found their experience attending testing clinics said: "Before I went to my appointment I was afraid that the people in the clinics would judge me and I felt a bit embarrassed but they were all so nice and I didn't feel any judgement."

Another student said “Getting tested means you are protecting yourself and your partners from contracting STI’s. The stigma around STI’s and getting tested needs to go and regular testing needs to be normalised because at the end of the day it is a good thing.”

According to HIV Ireland If you have symptoms of an STI, don’t ignore them. Contact your nearest clinic and leave a detailed message with your name and contact telephone number so that a staff member can call you back. You can also contact your GP who may provide STI testing services.