Every year, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) peak during the late summer and early autumn, according to the National Library of Medicine.

There are hundreds of STIs out there but many of them present no symptoms, which could lead to people living with them for a long time.

Unfortunately, many can leave long lasting and dangerous effects if left untreated.

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In fact, some of the most common STIs can be symptomless.

Here’s everything you need to know and which ones to look out for.


Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK and Ireland.

It's passed on through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) and is particularly common in sexually active teenagers and young adults.

Most people with chlamydia do not notice any symptoms and do not know they have it, according to the NHS.

If you do develop symptoms, you may experience:

  • 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

Although chlamydia does not usually cause any symptoms and can normally be treated with a short course of antibiotics, it can be serious if it's not treated early on.

If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body and lead to long-term health problems, especially in women.

In women, untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy and infertility.


Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus.

The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea are mainly found in discharge from the penis and in vaginal fluid.

Gonorrhoea is easily passed between people through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex.

The bacteria can infect the entrance to the womb (cervix), the tube that passes urine out of the body (urethra), the rectum and, less commonly, the throat or eyes. Typical symptoms of gonorrhoea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when peeing and, in women, bleeding between periods.

But around 1 in 10 infected men and almost half of infected women do not experience any symptoms.

The infection can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby. If you're pregnant and may have gonorrhoea, it's important to get tested and treated before your baby is born.

Without treatment, gonorrhoea can cause permanent blindness in a newborn baby.


Trichomoniasis is an STI caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis (TV).

Symptoms of trichomoniasis usually develop within a month of infection.

But up to half of all people will not develop any symptoms (though they can still pass the infection on to others).

Trichomoniasis in women can cause:

  • 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 passing urine or having sex

Trichomoniasis in men can cause:

  • 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

Complications of trichomoniasis are rare, although some women with the infection may be at an increased risk of further problems.

If you're infected with trichomoniasis while you're pregnant, the infection may cause your baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight.

Trichomoniasis is unlikely to go away without treatment, but it can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

Preventing STIs

Doctors agree that regular screenings and protective measures, eg condoms, are vital for sexually active people to avoid contracting STDs, or STIs. Luckily, many of these diseases have either cures or treatments.

For a list of sexual health services in Ireland, click here.

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