A man’s guide to STIs

We decided to make a man’s guide to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to help you understand different STIs, testing and treatment. Here’s our quick guide on what you should know!


Chlamydia is the most common STI diagnosed in England and can be passed on through oral, vaginal or anal sex. As with most STIs, it’s more common in men under 25.

Around 50% of males will not have any obvious signs or symptoms so many people don’t realise they have it. If you do have symptoms, you may notice pain when peeing, a white, cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis burning or itching in the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) and pain in the testicles.

Chlamydia is really easy to test for - you just need to pee in a pot, you can get tested at a sexual health clinic . Treatment is easy too, it’s just a case of taking a few tablets.


Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection which can cause serious health problems, including infertility in males. Rates of this infection are on the rise and men who have sex with men and guys aged 20-24 are the most at risk of being diagnosed with gonorrhoea.

Around 1 in 10 men won’t notice any symptoms. Symptoms of gonorrhoea in men include an unusual discharge from the tip of the penis which may be white, yellow or green, pain or burning when peeing and swelling of the foreskin. Some guys may have pain or tenderness in the testicles, although this is rare.

A quick urine sample is usually used to test for gonorrhoea, although a swab may be used to remove a sample of discharge from the end of the penis. You can get tested for gonorrhoea at our Cobridge clinic.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is an infection caused by the Herpes Simplex virus which causes small blisters around your genital area, although some people don’t notice any symptoms.

After an initial infection, you may notice small blisters that burst to leave red, open sores around your genitals, rectum (back passage), thighs and buttocks, pain when peeing and a general feeling of being unwell, with aches, pains and flu-like symptoms. After this, you may get recurrent infections, which include a tingling, burning or itching sensation around your genitals, and sometimes down your leg, before the blisters appear.

When testing for genital herpes, a swab is wiped across the blister to collect a sample of fluid. If you are diagnosed with genital herpes, you may be prescribed antiviral tablets, which you need to take a course of for at least five days (maybe longer if you still have new blisters and open sores). It doesn’t cure the STI but it does stop the virus from multiplying, easing the symptoms. You can get tested for genital herpes at our Cobridge clinic.

Genital Warts

Genital warts are the second most common STI in the country. Genital warts are most common among young straight males, but as with all STIs, they can affect anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality.

The warts may appear as small, fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes anywhere on the genitals or around the anus. The most common places for genital warts to develop in men are anywhere on the penis, on the scrotum, inside the urethra (tube where urine comes out), around/inside the anus or on the upper thighs.

Diagnosing genital warts can usually be easily done with a simple examination. Treatment for genital warts depends on the type of warts you have and where they are located. You do not need treatment if there are no visible warts.There are two main types of treatment for genital warts: applying a cream/lotion/chemical to the warts or destroying the tissue of the warts by freezing, heating or removing them. You can get tested for genital warts at our Cobridge clinic


Since 2012, syphilis diagnoses have risen by 97% (from 3,001 to 5,920), mostly associated with transmission in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men. If it’s left untreated it can lead to serious health problems so it’s important to get tested.

The first symptoms of syphilis usually develop around two or three weeks after infection, although they can start later than this. The main symptom is a small, painless sore or ulcer typically be on the penis or around the anus, although they can sometimes appear in the mouth or on the lips, fingers or buttocks. You may also have swollen glands in your neck, groin or armpits.

The first symptoms usually pass within two to eight weeks. But if the infection isn’t treated, you may notice these symptoms:

  • a blotchy red rash that can appear anywhere on the body, but often develops on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet

  • small skin growths around the anus

  • white patches in the mouth

  • flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness, headaches, joint pains and a high temperature

  • swollen glands

  • occasionally, patchy hair loss

Testing for syphilis is done via a simple blood test and treatment is usually an penicillin injection in the bum cheek but may be a 10-14 day course of antibiotic tablets if you can’t have penicillin. If you’ve had syphilis for over two years, you will need to have three injections, or a longer course of antibiotics. You can get tested for syphilis at our Cobridge clinic.


HIV is a viral infection which can be passed on through sex without a condom as well as by sharing needles. Around two thirds of people living with HIV in the UK are men and symptoms can often go unnoticed. It’s important to be diagnosed early with HIV so treatment choices can be made as soon as possible.

Around 80% people who are infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness that occurs two to six weeks after infection. The most common symptoms are fever (raised temperature), sore throat and a body rash. Some people also experience tiredness, joint pain, muscle pain and swollen glands. After these initial symptoms, HIV often causes no symptoms for several years.

We offer HIV fingerprick testing which gives results in 20 minutes - see our demonstration video below and see drop-in times at You can also get tested for HIV at our Cobridge clinic. Although there is no cure for HIV, advances in treatment mean that if diagnosed early, people living with HIV can live a long healthy life. Read more about treatment for HIV here.

Preventing STIs

Don’t forget, the best way to protect yourself against STIs is to use a condom for oral, vaginal and anal sex. If you use sex toys, you should also make sure you wash them properly between each use/partner and use condoms on them as STIs can be spread through sharing sex toys too.

Pick up free condoms from any of our clinics or with a C-Card!

To make sure you’re using condoms correctly watch our video below.

#sti #hiv #hivtesting #gonorrhoea #chlamydia