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Your Sexual Health

How is an STI contracted?

An STI is passed from person to person through intimate sexual contact, unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex or through genital contact. It is possible to get an STI without sexual intercourse or by sharing needles.

Many STIs do not display any obvious symptoms so please refer to the section on this site called WHO NEEDS TO USE CONFIDANTE STI TEST? to see when you should be testing yourself.

Always remember - regular screening plays an important role in maintaining your sexual health.


What is Gonorrhoea:

Gonorrhoea is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoea. It can be painful and can cause serious health problems such as infertility in both men and women. Gonorrhoea is a bacterium that can grow easily in the warm, moist areas of a female’s reproductive system including the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. It also grows in the urethra, mouth, throat, eyes and anus of both males and females.

How common is Gonorrhoea:

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK. Young men and women are affected most – the highest rates of gonorrhoea are seen in women aged 16-19 and men aged 20-24.

How is Gonorrhoea passed on:

Gonorrhoea is transmitted through unprotected sex, including vaginal, anal and oral sex, and also by sharing sex toys that have not been covered or washed. Gonorrhoea can still be passed on via fluids even if the man does not ejaculate. Infected mothers can also transmit gonorrhoea to their baby during birth, which can cause inflammation of the eyes.- although this can be easily treated with antibiotics.

What are the Complications of Gonorrhoea:

Gonorrhoea can be treated with antibiotics, but like most STIs, other complications result from long term untreated/repeated infections. Gonorrhoea can lead to infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.


What is Chlamydia:

Chlamydia Trachomatis, more commonly known as Chlamydia, is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that affects both men and women of all ages. Caused by a bacterium, Chlamydia can lead to serious health issues, including infertility. Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics, therefore early testing and diagnosis is crucial. Confidante can offer discreet and reliable testing for chlamydia.

How common is Chlamydia:

Chlamydia is the most common STI; there are an estimated 140 million cases worldwide. This includes 1.4 million reported cases in the U.S, over 210,000 reported cases in the U.K and over 6,000 reported cases in Ireland. Many cases of Chlamydia are not reported as it does not always show symptoms, therefore the individual may not suspect they have an infection. By testing for 10 STIs in one kit, Confidante will detect even those infections that do not show any symptoms. Rates are particularly high in young people and men who have sex with men (MSM)- although anyone who is sexually active is at risk from Chlamydia.

How is Chlamydia passed on:

Chlamydia is passed on through having unprotected sex with someone who already has the infection. This can be through: vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be passed on through the sharing of sex toys. Chlamydia may also be passed from an infected mother to her child during childbirth.

What are the Complications of Chlamydia:

Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious health issues. Chlamydia can lead to fertility issues in women, causing damage to the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which affects a woman’s ability to get pregnant and can lead to ectopic pregnancy. In men, complications are less common than in women. It can however, occasionally cause infertility by infecting the tubes that carry sperm from the testis. Regular Chlamydia screening can aid in detecting the infection in the early stages and help to reduce the risk of such complications.


What is Syphilis:

What is syphilis? Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Although spread through sexual contact, it is frequently passed to an unborn child by its infected mother, where it can cause congenital syphilis resulting in high rates of still birth and increased infant mortality rates. Primary syphilis is when sores appear at the point where the bacteria entered the body. These sores can appear anywhere such as: around the opening of the urethra, penis, foreskin and anus in men; the vulva, clitoris, cervix, urethra and anus in women. Secondary syphilis occurs when untreated sores have appeared and healed. It is still infectious and maintains its ability to be passed on. Tertiary syphilis is a progression from untreated secondary syphilis. Untreated syphilis can, after many years, cause serious damage to the heart, brain, eyes, internal organs and nervous system, which can ultimately lead to death.

How common is Syphilis:

Over 12 million new cases of syphilis are reported each year, including 14,000 reported cases in the U.S, 8,000 cases in Germany and 3,000 reported cases in the U.K. There are an estimated 2.5 million cases in the Western Pacific Region, with another 930,000 cases in Brazil.

How is Syphilis passed on:

Syphilis is passed on from one person to another through sex (vaginal, anal and oral) and also by direct skin contact with syphilis sores or rashes. Symptoms do not have to be visible for it to be passed on. It can still be transmitted before sores appear or after they have disappeared. Pregnant women can also pass syphilis onto their unborn baby.

What are the Complications of Syphilis:

If syphilis is not treated effectively, it can spread to other parts of the body. This can result in long term complications, such as damage to the heart, brain, eyes and other organs. Ultimately, this damage can even lead to death.

Herpes I

What is Herpes I:

Herpes I is from the herpes simplex virus family and causes sores around the mouth and lips which are sometimes called fever blisters or cold sores. This virus is likely to reoccur more often than herpes II and is transmitted through oral sex. Herpes I can sometimes cause genital sores as well.

How common is Herpes I:

More than 90% of the population is positive for herpes I but many people don’t know they are positive, because most people with herpes do not have outbreaks. The average rate of recurrence is four to five times in the first two years after being infected.

How is Herpes I passed on:

Herpes I is very contagious and is transmitted through the direct contact between the contagious area and broken skin via salvia. If you or your partner has herpes I in the form of sores or cuts around the mouth, genitals or anus, there is an increased risk of passing it onto your partner through oral sex. This is because the herpes I virus travels in salvia and can infect your partners through breakages in your skin.

What are the Complications of Herpes I:

Herpes usually does not lead to complications. Although, outbreaks are common and can be painful, they are more-so in individuals with a weak immune system. It can also infect the eyes, which left untreated can lead to loss of vision. Herpes I can cause a higher risk of miscarriage, as well as premature labour. It is also possible for herpes I to be passed onto a baby during delivery. Herpes I in babies can be very serious. What is the difference between herpes I and herpes II? Herpes Type I usually causes small, painful blisters on the lips, mouth, gums or skin around the mouth, commonly known as cold sores. Herpes II causes painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas. Although both highly contagious, type I and II are different strains of the virus within the same family.

Herpes II

What is Herpes II:

Herpes II, more commonly known as genital herpes, is from the herpes simplex virus family and is a chronic long-term condition. This virus causes painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas and is transmitted by having any form of sex.

How common is Herpes II:

Genital herpes is a common condition, especially in the age group of 20-24 year olds. Approximately 25% of sexually active people in the UK have genital herpes, although it is estimated that only 1 in 4 of these will be diagnosed. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 776,000 people get new herpes infections each year.

How is Herpes II passed on:

People get the virus II by having any form of sex with someone who has herpes II. This includes: • Unprotected vaginal sex • Unprotected anal sex • Unprotected oral sex • Sharing sex toys It can also be passed on from an infected mother to her child during birth. Transmission can occur even if your sexual partner is not currently showing any signs of the virus.

What are the Complications of Herpes II:

Herpes can cause problems during pregnancy, the severity of which depends on whether herpes was already existent or if it was contracted for the first time while pregnant. Herpes in neonates is serious and can in some cases cause death. Outbreaks are recurrent, causing painful sores to appear. What is the difference between herpes I and herpes II? Herpes Type I usually causes small, painful blisters on the lips, mouth, gums or skin around the mouth, commonly known as cold sores. Herpes II causes painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas. Although both highly contagious, type I and II are different strains of the virus within the same family.

Trichomonas Vaginalis

What is Trichomonas Vaginalis:

Trichomonas vaginalis or Trichomoniasis is an STI that affects both men and women, though women are more likely to experience symptoms. It is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is also referred to as Trichomonas and is often shortened to ‘Trich’ or ‘TV’. More women than men are affected by trichomoniasis but diagnosis is often difficult as there are usually no symptoms.

How common is Trichomonas Vaginalis:

Around 6,000 cases of trichomoniasis are diagnosed annually within the United Kingdom.

How is Trichomonas Vaginalis passed on:

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that attaches itself to the lining of the vagina. The parasite is usually spread by having unprotected sex. Occasionally the infection can be spread by sharing sex toys. Trichomoniasis cannot be passed on through having anal or oral sex.

What are the Complications of Trichomonas Vaginalis:

Complications related to trichomoniasis are rare. However, the infection can weaken the protective mucus barrier of the cervix, which helps prevent infection of the female reproductive organs. Weakening of this mucus increases the risk of HIV infection. If the infection develops during pregnancy, it can cause premature birth and low birth weight. Infection in males usually clears itself within a few weeks. However, some men may develop epididymitis or prostatitis. Recent research also suggests an increased risk of prostate cancer in males with trichomoniasis, emphasising the need to diagnose asymptomatic males early.

Mycoplasma hominis

What is Mycoplasma hominis:

Mycoplasma hominis is a common mollicute bacteria, present in almost all humans in the urinary tract. However, it can sometimes cause infection which can be transmitted sexually. It is different from other STIs, in that monogamous couples can suddenly experience mycoplasma hominis even after years of exclusivity. The symptoms of a Mycoplasma hominis infection are similar to many other STIs and the condition can often be mistaken for gonorrhoea or chlamydia. You can also have mycoplasma hominis and not experience any symptoms at all.

How common is Mycoplasma hominis:

Mycoplasma hominis affects up to 50% of sexually active males and females. The bacterium is present in almost everyone’s urinary tract in small quantities. Higher quantities cause the infection which can be transmitted sexually.

How is Mycoplasma hominis passed on:

The bacteria present in (almost) everyone’s urinary tract in small quantities. However, in higher quantities it can cause infection which can be transmitted sexually. People with suppressed immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or who have recently undergone an organ transplant, are more likely to contract this STI. • Unprotected vaginal sex • Sharing sex toys • From an infected mother to her child during birth

What are the Complications of Mycoplasma hominis:

Mycoplasma hominis infection can cause urethritis and increases the risk of vaginitis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. It is particularly harmful for people who are immunocompromised, e.g. those with HIV/AIDS or those on immunosuppressant drug therapy. Mycoplasma hominis can also increase the risk of contracting HIV infection if having sexual intercourse with an infected person, and may promote a shorter time period before the development of AIDS symptoms.

Mycoplasma genitalium

What is Mycoplasma genitalium:

Mycoplasma genitalium is a lesser known STI but is very common. It has similarities to both chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Most infections of mycoplasma genitalium do not show any symptoms and therefore, it is difficult to know if you have it without being tested.

How common is Mycoplasma genitalium:

As mycoplasma genitalium frequently occurs together with other STIs, it can be difficult to diagnose without being tested comprehensively. Studies have indicated that it is prevalent in 1% of the U.S adolescent population.

How is Mycoplasma genitalium passed on:

Mycoplasma genitalium is passed on through unprotected sexual contact. This can be through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

What are the Complications of Mycoplasma genitalium:

Like most STIs, mycoplasma genitalium can lead to other, more serious conditions. It is the main cause of nongonococcal urethritis in men – chlamydia can also cause this. Mycoplasma genitalium is the bacterium that has been found in association with bacterial vaginosis in women. The long term complications are very similar to chlamydia and gonorrhoea, including pelvic inflammatory disease and endometritis in women.

Ureaplasma urealyticum

What is Ureaplasma urealyticum:

Ureaplasma urealyticum is very contagious and is commonly found in the genital flora of sexually active individuals. Ureaplasma urealyticum often has no symptoms and a large percentage of infected people never experience any problems at all. However, if left undetected and untreated, ureaplasma urealyticum can cause infertility.

How common is Ureaplasma urealyticum:

It is estimated that 70% of the sexually active population is infected with ureaplasma urealyticum and many of these people experience no problems. However, it can cause symptoms and further complications in some people. It is therefore advisable to be aware of your sexual health and seek STI screening if you have concerns.

How is Ureaplasma urealyticum passed on:

Ureaplasma urealyticum is extremely contagious and is most often spread through unprotected sex. In extreme cases, you can become infected if you touch an infected person’s nose or eye secretions

What are the Complications of Ureaplasma urealyticum:

Left untreated ureaplasma urealyticum can be associated with infertility, premature or still birth, non-specific urethritis, meningitis and pneumonia. If the infection is left untreated for several months, it can spread to other parts of the body and damage joints, nerves and muscles.


What is Chancroid:

Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the haemophilus ducreyi bacterium. Early signs of chancroid may be mistaken for syphilis, yet the sores will grow to a larger size and will be more painful. Although highly contagious, chancroid is easily treated.

How common is Chancroid:

Any sexually active person can be infected with chancroid. Although less common the UK, it is a lot more common in Asia and Africa. The World Health Organisation has calculated that more than 9 million people are infected annually. Chancroid is more commonly seen in men than women, especially in uncircumcised males.

How is Chancroid passed on:

Chancroid can be passed on through direct skin contact with open sores during sex or through non-sexual transmission when fluid from an ulcer touches another person. If ulcers are present, a person is considered to be infectious. Sexual contact should be avoided during this time.

What are the Complications of Chancroid:

In people with HIV, chancroid can take longer to heal. If you have been diagnosed with chancroid, it is recommended that you are also tested for HIV, genital herpes and syphilis as chancroid may facilitate the transmission of these infections. In uncircumcised males, chancroid can cause scars on the foreskin of the penis.

If your STI Test result is positive, Confidante STI Test recommend that you seek immediate medical advice. Book a private consultation today with Randox Health, telephone 0870 0100 010 or alternatively email

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