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HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) refers to infections that are spread between people during sexual activity. STIs spread through having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. They can also be spread through genital touching and sharing sex toys with someone who has an STI. STI used to be called sexually transmitted disease (STD).

The most common STIs in New Zealand are chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Other types include genital herpes, genital warts, HIV, pubic lice and syphilis.

Symptoms of STIs

Many STIs have no symptoms. Even without symptoms, you can pass on the infection to your sexual partners. The symptoms vary depending on the kind of infection but can include:

Most STIs are curable with treatment. But if left untreated some STIs can lead to serious health problems and infertility (not being able to have children).

If you think you may have an STI or are at risk of having an STI, it's important to get tested. You can get tested by your GP, sexual health centre, Family Planning clinic, or school clinic.

You can reduce your risk of getting an STI by using a condom every time you have sex and not sharing sex toys.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created March 2021.

See also:

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Telling your sexual partner (partner notification)

Understanding your vaginal swab results

Page reference: 847099

Review key: HISYP-53679