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Sexual health - an overview

Sexual health includes the prevalence of sexual problems and sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates.

Sex can be great but it can also carry risks, such as STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Always use condoms to help protect yourself from catching or passing on an STI.

Sexually transmitted infections include chlamydia, genital warts, pubic lice ('crabs'), scabies, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes, hepatitis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

An STI can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. You can get or pass on an STI with whoever you're having sex with; women can pass infections on to women, and men can pass infections on to men.

Many STIs can be cured with antibiotics. Some, such as herpes and HIV, have no cure but can be treated to prevent them getting worse.

If you suspect that you have an STI, don't panic. You simply need to be tested, and then treatment can be given if it's needed. Many people with STIs don't get symptoms, so it's worth getting tested even if you feel healthy.

Sources: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (Health status), NHS Choices, UK (Sexually transmitted infections - STIs)

Last reviewed: September 2015

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