How do I know if I have (or my sexual partner has) an STI?

Many STIs have no obvious symptoms, so you may not know you have them. That’s why it’s best to have regular check-ups.

Sometimes, though, you may have some clear symptoms, such as an unusual liquid coming from your penis, pain in your penis when you urinate, or a swelling or pain somewhere in your testicles. If so, go see the clinic and talk to them!

If you think you might have an STI, it’s best to stop having sex with other people until you have it checked. At the very least, it’s the right thing to do to let your partners know.

Some people get embarrassed by the idea of having an STI and may not tell you because they’re afraid you may judge them, or find them less appealing. Other people may just be selfish. It’s best not to assume that someone has been checked recently. You really can’t guess someone else’s STI status, so either ask them, or maybe start a conversation about it by talking about when you were last checked. If someone refuses to say, that might be a red flag, and you may want to take precautions. 

The infection many guys worry about is HIV. For many years, becoming HIV positive would severely restrict your life, but modern treatments now mean that the lives of people with HIV can be as happy, healthy and long as anyone who is HIV negative. What’s more, treatments for HIV can reduce the virus in the person’s blood to such a low level that it’s undetectable, and this means they cannot transmit HIV to anyone else. This is called “Undetectable = Untransmissible” or U=U.

You cannot tell if someone has HIV by looking at them. As always, the key thing is to communicate and be informed.