The most common STIs in the UK

Tuesday 31st May, 2016


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed from one person to another through unprotected sex or genital contact. Let's find out which are the most widespread across the UK.

Image: Akis Palianastasis


  • Tops the list of most common STIs in the UK.

  • Very hard to diagnose, it often causes no symptoms

  • Requires oral antibiotic treatment, usually azithromycin (Zithromax) or doxycycline

Genital Warts

  • Can be transmitted via sexual contact or skin-to-skin contact

  • Caused by human papilloma virus (HPV)

  • Symptoms may include: Vaginal discharge, itching, bleeding and burning.

  • Cryotherapy and lasers can treat flare-ups but the virus itself is incurable.

Genital Herpes

  • Image: Akis Palianastasis

    Caused by herpes simplex virus-1 and herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV)

  • Often has no or mild symptoms (cold sores, fever blisters) – without complete cure

  • Sores and blisters can be uncomfortable but it can be treated with cold compresses and painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol


  • Known as ‘ the clap’, a bacterial STI widely spread in the UK

  • Common symptoms include: Burning sensation while urinating, painful testicles, white or green discharge from the penis in men, increased vaginal discharge in women

  • Diagnosed through urine testing

  • Can lead to fertility problems without prompt medication treatment


  • Image: Akis Palianastasis

    Can be spread by vaginal, oral and anal sexual contact

  • Common symptoms include: Sores on the genitals or mouth, hair loss, flu-like illness. Can lead to heart problems and blindness

  • Blood tests tend to be an efficient way of diagnosing the disease

  • Antibiotic treatment available via penicillin injections.

Sources: NHS, British Medical Association