If you’re in a long term relationship or marriage, sexually transmitted infections are probably a thing of the past; however some infections do hide for years only flaring up when your body is experiencing low immune system problems.

For some this has spelled the end of a relationship as the partner assumes the other must have been playing away, although this cannot be completely ruled out if the signs are there (see our other articles on how to spot a cheater), occasionally there can be a completely innocent explanation.

Pain during Intercourse

Dyspareunia is the medical term for pain during intercourse and if you feel any pain it could be contributed to a number of factors not all sexually related. It could be a kidney infection or a particularly troublesome time of the month, or it could simply be that you’re not relaxed enough during the act.

However pain during sex is also common with STIs such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and Chlamydia. It’s important to realise that if you do have PID this may be a result of an earlier infection and not a recent transmission from your partner- so hold out before you throw any accusations. Chlamydia can also lay low for a number of years as in the early stages it is symptomless only causing concern when niggles like this arise.

Luckily these are easily tested for and can usually be solved with a course of antibiotics. PID depending on how advanced may need a little more medical attention so it’s important to catch it early. As tests for Chlamydia are free and discreet there’s absolutely nothing to lose by having a quick screen for the disease, and you can put your mind at rest.


Itching and any irritation can be a sign of an STI so it’s important to check with a doctor or nurse. It can also be a sign of thrush and easily treatable problem that is not related to sexual activity. Thrush can be brought on by the use of different bubble baths or even by the course of antibiotics for some unrelated infection. The discharge doesn’t have an odour but can resemble cottage cheese. If you’ve never been diagnosed with thrush before make sure you get a proper diagnosis from a doctor before treating yourself to over the counter remedies as it may be something else.

Changes in Odour and Colour

The most obvious signs of STIs are changes in your secretions, as apart from the time of the month when your period is due any discharge should be white or clear. Any yellow or green substance should prompt you to seek further investigation as should any odour that is unpleasant. There is one infection that creates an odour but isn’t attributed to sexual activity, this is BV. It occurs as the natural pH of the vagina becomes unbalanced through either foam baths or body washes and can easily be rectified with a course of antibiotics.

Lumps and Bumps

Many women suffer from ingrowing hairs in the pubic region that cause trouble along with the occasional lump or bump, however if you have any growths on the inner labia you may want to seek medical advice. The HPV virus can lay dormant for years only surfacing when the immune system is low, resulting in genital warts that are not only unsightly but uncomfortable too. As the HPV virus is linked to cervical cancer it’s also important that you keep up-to-date with all smears to ensure optimum sexual health.