The Most Common Types of STI and STD in the UK Ashcroft Pharmacy

Top 10 Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the UK - Ashcroft Pharmacy

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About Most Common STDs and STis in the UK

Sexually transmitted diseases are infections spread through sexual routes; anal, vaginal, and oral. You are likely to get STDs if are sexually active, have multiple partners, or don't use protective barriers.

There are curable and noncurable STIs.This blog will discuss the top 10 STDs, their causes, symptoms, and treatments.

The report (Updated 4 June 2024) on sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses and screening in England for 2023:

1. Overall STI Diagnoses:

  • In 2023, there were 401,800 new STI diagnoses in England, marking a 4.7% increase from 2022 (383,789).

  • Chlamydia diagnoses remained stable at 194,970 in 2023 compared to 194,244 in 2022.

  • Gonorrhoea diagnoses increased by 7.5%, from 79,268 in 2022 to 85,223 in 2023.

  • Infectious syphilis diagnoses rose by 9.4%, from 8,693 in 2022 to 9,513 in 2023.

2. Specific Demographic Trends:

Syphilis diagnoses increased more among heterosexual men and women (21.8%) than among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) (7.3%).

First episode genital warts diagnoses remained stable overall, with low numbers in vaccinated 15 to 17-year-olds.

3. Screening and Testing:

  • Among women aged 15 to 24 screened through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme:672,576 chlamydia tests were conducted in 2023, a 2.1% decrease from 2022.

  • 64,670 chlamydia diagnoses were made in 2023, a 4.2% decrease from 2022, with stable test positivity rates (9.8% in 2022, 9.6% in 2023).

Service Provision Trends:

  • Total sexual health service consultations in 2023 increased by 5.0% from 2022.

  • Face-to-face consultations increased by 7.9%, online consultations by 7.5%, while telephone consultations decreased by 17.4%.

  • Consultations were predominantly by heterosexual women (52.0%), followed by heterosexual men (19.5%) and GBMSM (15.5%).

Overall Sexual Health Screens:

  • The number of sexual health screens increased by 8.3% in 2023 compared to 2022, totaling 2,358,987.

  • Heterosexual women accounted for the largest share (46.6%) of screens, followed by heterosexual men (22.5%) and GBMSM (17.2%).

Impact on Young People and Specific Groups:

The impact of STIs remains significant among young people aged 15 to 24 years, GBMSM, and certain minority ethnic groups.

Comparison and Historical Context:

Data from 2020 and 2021, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, showed lower STI diagnoses and service provisions compared to pre-pandemic years like 2019.



Syphilis is caused by a bacteria known as Treponema pallidum. It is spread through sex, getting into contact with an infected sore, and mother to child during birth. Syphilis can cause miscarriage, premature birth, and fetal death.

Syphilis is treatable especially when noticed earlier. If left untreated the disease can cause permanent damage, especially in the reproductive organs.

Syphilis occurs in 4 stages: During the first stage, you may notice a painless, round firm sore in the infected area. The sore lasts for 3-4 weeks and it's a this age that you can easily spread the infection.

In the second stage, you will notice several symptoms such as; headache, weight loss, fever, fatigue, inflamed lymph nodes, and lesions in the mouth.

In the latent stage, the bacteria keep on spreading in the body though the symptoms tend to disappear.

In the tertiary stage, the disease may affect various parts of the body such as the brain and heart and this may cause complications in the mentioned body parts.

Syphilis symptoms may appear from the tenth day since you transmitted the disease. The disease is tested through a swab test, blood test, or physical examination of the affected genital areas.

Treatment for Syphilis: Syphilis is treated with antibiotics, typically penicillin. The choice of antibiotic and duration of treatment depend on the stage of syphilis.

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Gonorrhoea is a bacterial STD caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can be passed from one person to another through sex(anal, oral, or vaginal), sharing of sex toys with an infected person, and childbirth labor. Besides affecting the genitals, it can also affect the eyes and throat.

Gonorrhoea can be treated using antibiotics at its early stages. It's important to get tested since the disease doesn't show symptoms in the initial stage. The test can be carried out through a swab test or urine test.

Common symptoms of gonorrhea include yellow discharge from the penis or vagina, pain while urinating, and pain in the pelvis. Untreated gonorrhea can cause infertility and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women.

Gonorrhoea Treatment: Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics, but due to increasing antibiotic resistance, the specific antibiotic regimen may vary. Combination therapy is sometimes necessary.

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Chlamydia is a sexual infection caused by a bacteria known as Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can be spread through childbirth, from an infected mother to the child, oral, anal, and vaginal sex. To get tested for Chlamydia the GP can test a sample of your urine or perform a fluid swab test.

Some of the symptoms of the infection in men include pain in the testicles, cloudy discharge from the penis, itchy urethra, and pain while urinating/Untreated Chlamydia can lead to inflammation of the epididymis and testicles. Men with swollen epididymis may experience infertility problems.

Symptoms in women include; pain while urinating, pain during sex, pain in the pelvis, and bleeding in between periods. Untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease that affects fertility in women.

Chlamydia can be treated through prescribed antibiotics. You should abstain from sex until the infection has fully disappeared.

Chlamydia Treatment: Chlamydia is also treated with antibiotics, commonly Azithromycin or Doxycycline. It's important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed.

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Genital Warts

Genital warts are caused by a virus known as Human papillomavirus. The disease affects the skin, especially the vagina, mouth, throat, and anus.

Some of the symptoms of genital warts include Fleshy bumps on the genitals, itching, bleeding, and a change in the flow of urine.

Genital warts are tested through a physical examination of the affected area. You can treat genital warts through the use of prescription cream or surgery in the infected area.

Genital Warts Treatment: Genital warts can be treated with topical medications (like Warticon Cream, Warticon Solution, Aldara 5% Cream) applied directly to the warts, or removed via procedures such as cryotherapy, surgical excision, or laser therapy.

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Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by a virus known as HSV. Ther are 2 type of HSV:HSV1 and HSV2.HSV1 affects the mouth while HSV2 affects the general areas.HSV1 can spread from one person to another through oral sex while HSV2 can spread through anal or vanilla sex.

Symptoms of genital herpes include:

  • Small, itchy open sores on the genitals 
  • Burning sensation while urinating 
  • Body aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever 
  • Vaginal discharge 

The disease can be tested through a fluid swab test from the infected area. There is no cure for genital herpes, however, prescribed antivirals can prevent the symptoms from worsening.

Genital herpes Treatment: Genital herpes is managed with antiviral medications such as Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, or famciclovir. These medications can help reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks but do not cure the infection.

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Pubic Lice (Crabs)

Pubic lice or crabs are small insects that appear on the pubic hair of the penis or vagina. It's hard to see them though you can notice them through itchy genitals. They are mostly spread through sexual contact with an infected person.

Their life cycle is influenced by the female crabs that lay more eggs that hatch into pubic lice. This disease is tested by a doctor who examines your pubic hair using a comb or a magnifying lens.

Crabs can also be found on other parts of your body such as eyelashes, armpits, and chest. So the symptoms that show you have pubic lice include:

  • Itchy genitals that get worse at night
  • Brown spots on your underwear. They are usually pubic lice eggs
  • Crusty eyelashes 
  • Red spots on your genital skin that signify crab bites

Pubic Lice (Crabs)Treatment: Pubic lice are treated with medicated lotions or shampoos that kill the lice and their eggs (nits). Over-the-counter treatments like Permethrin (Lyclear) cream or prescription medications like malathion or Derbac M Liquid are commonly used.

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HIV is an immunodeficiency virus that affects the immune system's ability to fight infectious diseases. It's commonly spread through having sex with an infected person, mother to child during birth, and sharing needles to take drugs.

During the initial infection, you might get flu-like symptoms. When HIV spreads and damages your immune system you get AIDS(Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) which comes with life-threatening illnesses. 

HIV is tested through blood tests or testing the saliva.HIV has no cure but antiretroviral drugs are recommended. They prevent the virus from replicating, enabling your immune system to repair itself. 

HIV Treatment: HIV is managed with antiretroviral therapy (ART), which involves taking a combination of HIV medicines every day. ART helps suppress the virus, allowing people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives.

You can Order HIV testing Kit for Home use from Ashcroft Pharmacy.

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Hepatitis B.

It's a disease spread through semen, blood, vaginal discharge, saliva, and breast milk. Some of the symptoms of hepatitis B include Yellowing of the skin, fever, pain in the upper abdomen, fatigue, and nausea.

A vaccine can help in providing protection, however, boosters are needed to provide long-term protection.

Hepatitis-B Treatment: Acute hepatitis B infections may not require specific treatment other than supportive care. Chronic hepatitis B infections may be managed with antiviral medications like tenofovir or entecavir to reduce liver damage and lower the risk of complications.

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Trichomoniasis is a bacterial STD caused by Trichomonas vaginalis. Symptoms are invisible during the initial stages of infection.

Trichomoniasis is tested through examination of the genitals and swabs tets from the penis or vagina. It is important to be tested earlier to avoid serious symptoms. Symptoms of the disease include yellow discharge from the genitals, itchy genitals, and sores in the infected areas.

Trichomoniasis Treatment: Trichomoniasis is treated with a single dose of an antibiotic called Metronidazole (Flagyl). Both partners should be treated simultaneously to prevent reinfection.

The metronidazole vaccine is used to treat the disease effectively. Pregnant women suffering from Trichomoniasis may experience pre-term birth, and give birth to low-weight babies, also their newborn children may suffer from genital and respiratory infections.

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HPV(Human Pappilomavirus )

Human papillomavirus is a virus that affects the skin. Some of the viruses can cause genital warts or cancer, especially cervical cancer in women and throat cancer.HPV can spread through sex, genital-to-genital contact, and pregnant women to a baby.

The major symptoms of HPV are painless lymph nodes around the infected area.HPV is tested during cervical screening.

Treatment: There is no cure for HPV, but genital warts caused by HPV can be treated with prescription creams, cryotherapy (freezing), or surgical removal. Vaccination (Gardasil or Cervarix) is effective in preventing certain HPV infections.


STDs are spread mostly through sexual intercourse. It is recommended that you adopt protection measures such as abstaining from sex, use of condoms, or sticking to one partner to avoid the spread.