Aunt Vadge: Do I have a delayed STI?

Hi Aunt Vadge,

Recently I’ve been a little too adventurous and now I’m scared I might have an STI. I had sex about two weeks ago, and after that I had no symptoms besides the usual after-sex soreness. However, two days ago I was sexually active (but did not have sex) with another person.

The day after I had a burning sensation when peeing and my vagina was raw and it hurt. Today, it is itchy and painful to the touch, but I no longer have a burning sensation when I pee.

Can I have an STI from the second guy even though I didn’t have sex with him? Or is this delayed from the first time?

Thank you for your help,

Ouch

Dear Ouch,

Thanks for your email. Your symptoms seem similar to a yeast infection, which probably has very little to do with any sexual activity, and more to do with your diet. There is no such things as a delayed STI (just so you know!) but it is true that some infections can take a week or two to manifest physically.

But, in saying that, if your hands or genitals touched each other, then it’s possible to transmit a sexually transmitted infection, because lots of STIs don’t actually need body fluids to be transferred. HPV and herpes, for example, are transferred by skin contact in the genital area. No p-in-v action need have occurred to spread germs, so be diligent.

While it isn’t a very pleasant thought, remember that every STI passed to you from someone else has been passed along through hundreds, or maybe thousands of other genitals to get to yours. The bacteria or virus has been passed from person to person, which is really pretty gross, and the person you caught it off, caught it off someone else’s vagina or anus or penis. STI germs don’t just appear out of nowhere, and they only like genitals.

Sexual hygiene isn’t just making sure you don’t get pregnant, but making sure that your body fluids and your lover’s body fluids don’t mix, and you don’t rub raw penises and vaginas on yours without something in between (unless you have both been tested and consent to the risks). Don’t bump genitals. Pee after sex or sex play. Rinse off if it was extra mucky. You must learn what to do with your vagina to protect it from the hazards of life, because when things go wrong, it really ruins your week, month or year (nothing that goes wrong with a vagina is just for a day).

Condoms are a pain, but it’s critical that you learn how to use them and get over it. If you let a guy go without a condom, 94 per cent of the time, he’ll just go along with it. Sex education is abysmal. You can use condoms during sex play too, which protects you both. Find a brand that you like (without spermicide), and buy a bunch – thinner is better, use lube, and get used to it. It will save you many, many hours of fretting about STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Don’t worry – we’ve all been there!

A raw vagina with itching sounds yeasty, while burning when you pee could be part of that, or in fact a slight urinary tract infection from fiddling around. As the UTI-type symptoms have cleared up, it probably isn’t a proper UTI, just perhaps some inflammation. UTIs do not usually just go away without any noise.

Try taking a high-quality probiotic twice a day morning and night, or if that isn’t an option, you can easily eat a lot of fermented foods (yoghurt, sauerkraut) to repopulate your gut and vagina with good bacteria that balance out yeast populations pretty quickly. Cut out carbs for a few days (they feed the yeasts) and it should clear up pretty quickly. You also have the option of over-the-counter yeast treatments, but there is no real need for that if you symptoms aren’t bad.

Because you are sexually active with multiple partners, you need to really protect yourself against pregnancy and disease – if you are sleeping around, the people you are sleeping around with are also sleeping around, and poor sex education means lots of spreading of diseases and getting up the duff. Look at your contraception options, and get regular (6-monthly) disease checks, plus your regular pap smears to check for HPV and cervical changes. I was like you once, and I ended up one step away from cervical cancer at age 20. Not fun. I’d also had a spate of STIs by then too, which is also kind of embarrassing when you know how easy they are to prevent, and how gross they really are when you think it over for a minute longer.

You probably don’t have a disease, but you might. You need to go and start getting familiar with being tested, so book yourself into your local sexual health clinic and get checked. Today.

Lecture over.

Love,
Aunt Vadge

 

 

 

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.