STI germs live in blood, semen and vaginal fluids. STIs pass from person to person during any kind of sex: vaginal (penis in vagina), anal (penis in rectum), or oral (mouth to penis or vagina.) Some STIs cause sores and the germs can be spread from touching the sores themselves. Some STIs are spread by sharing needles, or tattooing and body piercing with unsterilized equipment. Infected women who are pregnant can pass some STIs to their babies during pregnancy and childbirth. Breastfeeding mothers can also pass certain STIs to their nursing babies. You cannot get STIs from shaking hands or from toilet seats. Except for Hepatits B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) there are no vaccinations to prevent STIs.
How to know if you have an STI?
It can be hard to know if you or your partner has an STI. Many men and women with STIs don't have any signs or symptoms.
You may have an STI if you have any one of these signs:
Burning when passing urine/frequency of urination
Sores, small bumps or blisters on or near your penis, vagina or anus (rectum)
Itching around your penis, vagina or anus
An unusual discharge or odour from your penis or your vagina