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Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a link below to find out more about sexual health. If you need to know more you can also ask a question using the contact us page, call the Sexual Health Helpline – 08 9227 6178 (Perth metro area) or 1800 198 205 (country callers) or the WA AIDS Council AIDSline on 9482 0044.


STIs are infections that are most commonly transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected pa rtner. This can be vaginal, anal or oral sex. Some STIs can be passed on from one partner to another through skin-to-skin contact.

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Chlamydia, genital warts, herpes and gonorrhoea are the most common sexually transmitted infections causing genital symptoms. Hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis can also be transmitted sexually. In addition, pubic lice (crabs), scabies, and other less common infections can be sexually transmitted. Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5


You could be at risk of having an STI if:

  • You have had unsafe sex (sex without a condom / condom has not been used properly/condom fell off)
  • You have a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner
  • You have discharge, sores or pain in the genital area
  • You have been named as a contact of someone else with an STI
  • You cannot remember if you had unsafe sex (eg you were drunk)
  • You or your partner have ever injected drugs
  • You have had contact with someone else’s blood (eg getting a tattoo)
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Most people do not experience any symptoms. However, if you do have symptoms they may include:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain or irritation when passing urine or during sexual intercourse
  • Sores, blisters, ulcers, warts, lumps or rashes in the genital or anal area
  • Itchiness or irritation in the genital or anal area
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Some STIs such as HIV and Hepatitis B can initially seem like a “flu-like” illness. Do not wait for these symptoms to go away-the infection could still be in your body and cause health problems in the future.
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The most risky forms of sex are penetrative anal intercourse and penetrative vaginal intercourse with no condoms. You can reduce your chance of infection greatly by using a condom.

It is important to make sure the condom is put on before any penetration takes place, and to make sure the condom stays on until withdrawal is complete. This means withdrawing before the erection is lost and holding the condom in place during withdrawal. Condoms can sometimes break, so it is important to check the condom is still intact after sex.

Ensuring the condom is not out of date, and using a water based lubricant (KY jelly, wet stuff, lubrafax) when you feel dry may help prevent breakages. Oil based lubricants (such as moisturiser or massage oils) can damage the latex of condoms and so should be avoided. Other sexual activities put you at less risk of sexually transmitted infections. These include mutual masturbation, penetrative sex with condoms, massage, and oral sex with a condom.

See our Condom page for more info about condom use.

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Explain to your partner that it reduces your chance of infection. If you are not able to persuade him, consider other forms of sex rather than penetration or consider using a female condom yourself.
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Sex doesn’t have to involve penetration. If you are sexually active, you could consider doing other things with your partner, like kissing, mutual pleasuring, self pleasuring, touching or hugging, instead of having intercourse.

For oral sexual activities, anal or vaginal intercourse, a condom should be used to reduce the chance of catching a sexually transmitted infection.

It is possible to pick up a sexually transmitted infection even if you do not have intercourse.Some infections such as genital warts, crabs, and scabies can be passed by skin-to-skin contact during sex without any penetration taking place.

Herpes can be passed on by kissing, oral sex or intercourse (remember a lot of people who have herpes don’t know they are infected).

There is less risk of infection if both you and your partner have been tested for sexually transmitted infections and are free of infection.

There is a risk of infection if:

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