Last Updated on 5 years by Publishing Team
What you need to know
STIs QA (Sexually Transmitted Infections) are infections that are mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual activity with an infected sexual partner. They are caused by either bacteria, viruses or parasites.
You often can’t see or feel the symptoms of an STI immediately. Reading up on STIs and knowing their risks, symptoms and whether you are at risk will make it a little easier to spot the signs of STIs and help ensure you take control of your own sexual health and also care for others.
What are some common STIs?
STIs common in Fiji include;
How is it spread?
STIs are usually spread by skin-to-skin contact, or during vaginal or anal sex without the correct use of a condom. Activities that put you at risk include;
- Vaginal sex without a condom – inserting penis in the vagina.
- Anal Sex without a condom – inserting penis in the partners bum/anus (the partner can be either male or female).
- Oral sex without a condom – mouth or tongue on partner’s penis, anus or vagina.
- Some STIs (for example Hepatitis B or HIV) can also be passed on if needles are shared for injecting drugs, or if tattooing equipment is shared.
What are the symptoms of STIs?
There are a few things you need to be aware of when it comes to STIs;
- Firstly, often there are no symptoms or noticeable signs at all, particularly in women.
- This is why safe sex and regular medical check ups are important.
If you experience any of the following symptoms you should see your doctor or sexual health nurse immediately.
- Itching or irritation around the genital area (in or around the vagina, penis and/or anus or bum).
- Sores, blisters, ulcers, rashes, raised lumps or bumps around the genital area –these can be painless and difficult to see , especially if they are inside the mouth, vagina or anus.
- Warts or ‘Samuna’ – these are more noticeable on a man than a woman as warts that grow inside the vagina are hard to see. They can also grow around the anus or bum.
- They are usually groups of small, raised lumps.
- Unusual discharge (flow or fluid) or smell from the vagina or penis. Normal fluids from the vagina or penis have a mild smell or none at all. A stronger smell, often not a very nice smell is a sign that something is wrong.
- Persistent diarrhoea.
- Fever, flu-like symptoms.
- Pain – lower abdominal pain in women can be a sign of an untreated STI. Men may experience pain in their scrotum (balls).
- Burning or discomfort when urinating (peeing/pissing) – This may or may not be a sign of an STI, you should have it checked out.
- Frequent urge to urinate.
- Women may notice unusually heavy periods, bleeding between periods, or bleeding after sex.
Make sure you tell your doctor or nurse about all your symptoms, don’t feel embarrassed, you are in a safe and supportive environment and they are the best people to help you fix the problem.
There are many risks associated with STIs, you can learn more about individual STIs, their symptoms, treatment and risks by exploring the topics on this site.
Can condoms help prevent infection?
Using condoms reduces the spread of many STIs (including HIV) but some STIs can spread from person to person even when condoms are used. For example, if your partner has genital herpes or warts, the condom may not cover the lesions or sores on his/her genitals and you may be at risk.
However, you can prevent many STI’s by using a condom every time you have sex, from start to finish.
Using a condom
When using a condom, it is important to ensure you use it correctly for it to offer proper protection. You should;
- Open the packet carefully so that you don’t tear the condom.
- Pinch the tip of the condom before carefully rolling it down the entire shaft of the erect penis.
- Do not use spit, Vaseline, baby oil or other oil-based lubricants.
- Use water-based lubricants, such as KY or Wet Stuff. (Available in Pharmacies)
- Withdraw the penis before the erection is lost, so that the condom does not fall off. Hold the base of the condom to prevent spills.
- Store condoms in a cool, dry place and check the expiry date before using.
- Condoms should only be used once. A new one should be used each time you have sex.
How are STI’s treated?
Most STI’s can be easily treated once they are diagnosed. Treatment may involve antibiotics, medicated cream or lotions. For STI’s where there is no cure, there are usually treatments to help control the symptoms.
Persons with STI’s are infectious to their sexual partner(s) even though some may have no symptoms or signs of infection.
It is extremely important that a person gets medical treatment for an STI and completes whatever the doctor prescribes. An untreated or partially treated infection can lead to serious complications.
Long Term Effects
- STIs can make men and women very sick – they can even die
- They can make men and women infertile (unable to have babies)
- They can cause problems for babies including miscarriages and babies being born too soon
- They can make it harder for men to piss
- If a woman is pregnant and has an STI, she can pass the STI on to her baby.
- Having an STI makes it easier to get HIV.
It is your responsibility to practice safe sex.
It is your responsibility to get regular medical check ups and get tested.
It is your responsibility to inform current and past sexual partners if you have contracted an STI.
How do I protect myself from STI’s?
There are many steps you can take to reduce your risk of STI’s
ALWAYS PRACTICE SAFE SEX!
- Not having sex at all protects you from all sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Using a condom each and every time you have sex, from start to finish can greatly reduce your chances of infection. Remember, the condom only offers protection if it covers the infected area(s).
- Always use condoms every time you have sex, and only use water-based lubricants (available from pharmacies).
- Being faithful to one sexual partner who is faithful to you reduces your risk.
- Practicing non-penetrative sex, such as mutual masturbation, cuddling, kissing and massage are very safe.
- If you are sexually active, you should have regular medical check ups.
I want to know more
You can find out more from the following places;
Northern Reproductive Health Clinic
‘Our Spot’ ( Northern Hub Center)
Ratu Raobe Building,
P: 881 2525
Naviti Street Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic (Western Hub Centre)
P: 664 0243
Reproductive Health Clinic (Suva Hub)
P: 331 9144
Medical Services Pacific, Suva
Any Government Health Centre. You can locate your nearest centre here