When engaging with a new sexual partner, the biggest concern for most people is whether their new partner is HIV negative or not, however other diseases can be passed between sexual partners with serious consequences

Although all sexually active people should get tested and screened STIs, there are times when you should be especially cautious.

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If you have a new partner

It is always advisable for new partners to be tested and screened so that you both go into your new sexual relationship fully aware of the consequences of your sexual relationship.

“No one looks like they have an STI, and whether or not an STI is a deal-breaker for your relationship, it is something you need to know about before deciding to enter into a sexual relationship,” says Gauteng based GP Dr Linda.

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“STIs can be transmitted orally, through skin-to-skin contact and other sexual activities. Even if you think you have been safe, you might not have always been as safe as you thought you were,” she adds.

READ MORE: 5 Health questions you need to ask when starting a new relationship

If you are worried about changes in your body

In between regular testing and even if you do not have a new sexual partner, you should seek medical attention if there are changes in your body that make you feel uncomfortable. According to Dr Linda, sickness, infections and diseases manifest themselves as changes in how you feel, look and react.

“A high fever, rash, sudden sensitivity, pain or discomfort could be caused by a number of different things however if you experience any ‘changes’ you cannot explain you need to get a medical explanation from a doctor. If these “changes’ are related to your sexual health, then you might need to specifically get screened for STIs,” she says.

If you have had unprotected sex

Whether it happened once, accidentally or regularly with your partner Dr Linda says it is important to remember that STIs do not only infect people with multiple sexual partners or people who have had more sexual partners.

“Although it is said that having multiple sexual partners or having more sexual partners in your history increases your risk of infections; the truth is you only need to have sexual interactions with one infected partner to be infected,” she says.

Dr Linda says it is important not to bring unnecessary stigma to STIs by assuming they are something people earn through a certain lifestyle and accepting that they are a risk for all sexually active people, even in a faithful marriage. “People can bring STIs into their marriage and infect their spouse with STIs they did not know they had. It is important to get tested regularly,” she says.

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.