A NEW at home STI test can look for ten of the most common bugs with just one piece of kit.
Superdrug launched the test, Randox Confidante, in response to increasing demand during lockdown.
The pharmacist said demand for at-home chlamydia tests has increased by 171 per cent and for syphilis 67 per cent.
DIY kits range in cost, but a full-check up can come with at a price.
The convenience of the kit, avoiding an appointment at a sexual health clinic, will set you back an eye watering £89.99.
But you can be assured you are free from chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes and more – some of which don’t show obvious symptoms.
Dr Zoe Williams, Fabulous GP and Sun columnist, said: “It is a good idea for people who are sexually active to get tested for sexually transmitted infections at least once a year.
“Some STIs have no symptoms so people may not even know they have one unless they get tested. An example is chlamydia, which often shows no symptoms in women, but can affect their future ability to get pregnant if left untreated.
“There are many ways to access STI testing, you can speak to your GP, visit an STI clinic and in some areas you can order home testing kits online.
“Superdrug’s at-home test gives people the option to check themselves for a wide range of sexually transmitted infections in the privacy and comfort of their own home. One of the best protections we have, alongside practising safe sex is regular STI checks.”
The test can be bought in selected stores or online. It involves taking a urine and swab test before sending it back to the lab in a pre-paid envelope.
You can get tested for STIs for free at sexual health clinics or a GP surgery.
But Michael Henry, healthcare director at Superdrug, hopes at home tests will encourage people to get a check-up more often.
He said: “Allowing customers to test themselves for STIs at-home can help avoid feelings of embarrassment or anxiety that might otherwise prevent them from testing.”
Signs of the ten STIs
The 10 STIs that Randox Confidante test for are:
- pain when peeing
- unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or bottom
- in women, pain in the tummy, bleeding after sex and bleeding between periods
- in men, pain and swelling in the testicles
Chlamydia – the most common STI in the UK – can often show no symptoms at all, meaning it may not be diagnosed early enough.
If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body and lead to long-term health problems, such as infertility.
It is usually treated with antibiotics.
- thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis
- pain when peeing
- bleeding between periods
Also known as “the clap”, gonorrhoea is a stealthy bug that can cause no symptoms in almost half of infected women.
Around one in ten men also have no signs.
Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK after chlamydia, and cases are rising.
"Super gonorrhoea" is also on the up, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that the drug resistant drug could be untreatable.
Symptoms of syphilis can come and go in stages.
Early signs are:
- one or more small, painless sores or ulcers on the penis, vagina or around the anus, or sometimes in the mouth or on the lips, fingers or buttocks
- swollen glands in the neck, groin or armpits
Later signs are:
- a blotchy red rash that can appear anywhere on the body, but often on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
- small skin growths around the anus – also around the vulva in women
- white patches in the mouth
- flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness, headaches, joint pains and a high temperature
- swollen glands
- patchy hair loss
Without treatment, a syphilis infection can last for years or decades without causing any symptoms.
The danger is it spreading to other parts of the body, such as the brain.
This can lead to vision problems, meningitis and strokes.
4 and 5. Herpes – two types
- blister or multiple blisters on or around affected areas – usually the mouth, genitals, or rectum.
- tingling, burning or itching around the genitals
- pain when peeing
- in women, vaginal discharge that's not usual
The herpes simplex virus comes in two types.
Herpes 1 (HSV-1) causes sores around the mouth and lips, called cold sores, and genital herpes around the vagina, penis or anus.
But most cases of genital herpes are caused by Herpes 2 (HSV-2).
In general, HSV-2 can only be contracted during sexual contact.
Both types of herpes can go through periods of being dormant, during which time they can still be spread, before causing a recurrence.
It can’t be cured, but medication can stop the symptoms of an outbreak from worsening.
Sympoms in women:
- abnormal vaginal discharge that may be thick, thin or frothy and yellow-green in colour
- producing more discharge than normal, which may also have an unpleasant fishy smell
- soreness, swelling and itching around the vagina – sometimes the inner thighs also become itchy
- pain or discomfort when peeing or having sex
Symptoms in men:
- pain when peeing or during ejaculation
- needing to pee more frequently than usual
- thin, white discharge from the penis
- soreness, swelling and redness around the head of the penis or foreskin
Up to half of all people will not develop any symptoms of trichomoniasis – but can still pass the infection on to others.
The nasty STI is caused by a tiny parasite called trichomonas vaginalis, but is treatable with antibiotics.
Complications are rare, but can have an impact on the baby of a pregnant woman.
7. Mycoplasma hominis
- discharge from the vagina or penis that smells
- pain or burning feeling when peeing
Additional symptoms in women:
- continuous pain during sex
- vaginal itching
There are about 200 types of mycoplasma bacteria, but only some are worth worrying about, including this one.
The bug can have very similar symptoms compared with other STIs, so can be misdiagnosed.
Most people don’t show any signs at all, so may only be picked up with screening.
8. Mycoplasma genitalium
Symptoms in women:
- discharge from the vagina
- pain during sex
- bleeding after sex or/and between periods
- pain in the pelvic area below your belly button
Symptoms in men:
- watery discharge from the penis
- burning, stinging, or pain when peeing
Mycoplasma genitalium can be tricky to treat and may require a range of medicines while doctors keep track of your progress.
It is not a well-known STI, but is still very common.
Complications include swelling or the urethra in men, and pelvic inflammatory disease and endometritis in women.
9. Ureaplasma urelyticum
- inflammation of the urethra
- pain when peeing
- unusual genital discharge
- lower abdominal pain
It is estimated that around 70 per cent of sexually active people have the ueaplasma urelyticum bug in their genitals.
But most won’t have any symptoms, so a test can discover if it is there.
For some, it can be serious.
It can lead to infertility, still birth, meningitis and pneumonia. It can also can spread to other parts of the body and damage joints, nerves and muscles.
- raised bumps on the genital area that turn into sores
- pain during sex or urination in women
- swollen lymph nodes between the leg and the lower abdomen.
Similar to syphilis, chancroid can cause agonising sores in the gential area. But the sores are bigger, and filled with pus.
This STI is rarer in the UK.
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