Long-term health risks of sexually transmitted infections

Long-term health risks of sexually transmitted infections

We generally know that unprotected sex is risky. From unplanned pregnancies to unwanted diseases, there are plenty of potential complications which can arise if you don’t practice safe sex.

But even the most diligent person can still be exposed to risks from time to time, resulting in a sexually transmitted infection which, if left untreated, can lead to long-term health problems. So, it’s important to get tested if you have had unprotected sex.

Sexual health week, which runs from 12th to 18th September this year, aims to raise awareness about the importance of sexual health and safe sex.

We’re taking a look at some of the most common STIs and what impact can they have on your health?

Sexual Health

What are the common STIs you’re most at risk of catching?

There are many different sexually transmitted infections circulating in the population which you could be at risk of catching if you do not use protection. Some of these infections are more serious than others and can lead to long-term health complications if not caught early and treated properly.

Some common sexually transmitted infections include:


Although chlamydia does not usually cause any symptoms and can normally be treated with a short course of antibiotics, it can be serious if it's not treated early on.

In women, untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. In men, in rare cases, chlamydia can spread to the testicles causing them to become painful and swollen.


Gonorrhoea, which used to be known as “the clap”, is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. These bacteria are mainly found in discharge from the penis and in vaginal fluid and are passed on through unprotected sex.


Hepatitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the liver. It's usually the result of a viral infection or liver damage caused by drinking alcohol. There are several different types of hepatitis, including:

Hepatitis A

Caused by the hepatitis A virus, Hepatitis A is usually caught by consuming food and drink contaminated with the faeces of an infected person and is most common in countries where sanitation is poor.

Hepatitis A usually passes within a few months, although it can occasionally be severe and even life threatening. There's no specific treatment for it, other than to relieve symptoms like pain, nausea and itching.

Hepatitis B

Most adults infected with hepatitis B fully recover from the infection within a couple of months. But most people infected as children develop a long-term infection known as chronic hepatitis B which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C

Caused by the hepatitis C virus, hepatitis C is the most common type of viral hepatitis in the UK. It's usually spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person.

Hepatitis C often causes no noticeable symptoms, or only flu-like symptoms, making it harder to spot initially. Around 1 in 4 people will fight off the infection and be free of the virus. But in the remaining cases, it can stay in the body for many years.

Hepatitis D

Caused by the hepatitis D virus, hepatitis D only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B, as it needs the hepatitis B virus to be able to survive in the body.

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E, caused by the hepatitis E virus, is now the most common cause of short-term hepatitis in the UK. It’s generally a mild infection that does not require any treatment, but it can be serious in people with a weakened immune system.


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system, weakening your ability to fight everyday infections and disease.

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the name used to describe potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been damaged by the HIV virus.

AIDS cannot be transmitted from one person to another, but the HIV virus can. HIV is found in the bodily fluids of an infected person. This includes semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk. The most common way of contracting HIV in the UK is through unprotected sex.


Genital herpes is an STI passed on through unprotected sex. Symptoms, such as sores and painful urination, can clear up on their own but can also flare up in the future.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection that's usually passed on through unprotected sex. While syphilis can be treated with a short course of antibiotics, you can go on to catch it more than once, even if you have been treated for it before. If left untreated for years, syphilis can spread to the brain or other parts of the body and cause serious long-term problems

A private home to laboratory test for sexually transmitted infections

If you’re worried that you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you want answers as quickly as possible so that you can seek the right treatment.

Private blood testing is becoming a popular solution for a whole range of medical and diagnostic checks, for people who want quick access to important information about their health and wellbeing. And with our quick and convenient home to laboratory testing kits, getting that information is easy.

At Blue Horizon we offer a range of comprehensive home to laboratory checks for sexually transmitted infections.

Our STI check includes tests for:

Our postal kits give you the opportunity to collect a blood sample in the comfort of your own home, at a time to suit you. Simply take your sample and return it to us for testing. Your result, which are emailed to you, can be used to seek the right treatment, as needed. 

Find out more

Quick and Reliable

There's a reason that over 30% of Blue Horizon Kit requests are from patients that have used us before.