Bupa research reveals increases in Google searches for STI symptoms
Search volumes between 2021 and 2022 show stark increases for some symptoms commonly associated
with sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
†New research based on internal Google search habits January 2021 to June 2022.
† New research based on internal Google search habits January 2021 to June 2022.
It’s easy to quickly Google a symptom, but it’s important to remember that not all information on the internet is regulated. This means that you may be directed to information or advice that’s inaccurate at best, or harmful at worst.
Some symptoms can have complex causes, so it should always be a trained clinician that helps guide you through to any necessary treatment. For example, painful urination could be due to a sexually transmitted infection, but it could also be due to a bladder infection or kidney stones. A doctor with the right knowledge and expertise is far better than a simple search online that may lead you down the wrong path.
Having regular tests helps to identify any infections at an early stage. And they stop you from spreading them to your partner(s). If you have an STI that doesn’t have any symptoms, you could be passing it on to others without realising. Spotted early, sexually transmitted infections are easier to treat. And this means you’re less likely to develop complications or potentially serious sexual health problems in the future. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhoea can lead to impaired fertility in some people if they’re not treated soon enough.
It might be tempting to think that you’re sexually healthy if you’re able to have pain-free, enjoyable sex. But some STIs don’t have any symptoms, making them impossible to know about unless you have an STI check.
STIs spread through sexual activity. The person with the infection passes infected bacteria, viruses or parasites on to another person without. You can catch an STI from any form of unprotected sex where the infection can travel from one person to another. This includes vaginally, orally, or anally. You can also catch an STI if you have genital contact with someone who’s infected, or if you share sex toys.
Not all STIs are curable. The cause of the infection and length of time you’ve had it can affect the options for treatment. Generally, infections caused by bacteria clear up with antibiotic treatment. Some infections caused by viruses can be managed, but it’s not always possible to be fully cured of them. Examples include herpes (HSV) and HIV.
Bupa has a range of sexual health services using urine, swab, and blood tests to detect possible sexual infections. Our health advisers will welcome and support you in our private health clinics. And so will our specially trained doctors, if you book a check that includes them as part of the consultation.
STI checks themselves do not take long at all. Taking swabs, providing a urine sample, and collecting blood from your arm only takes minutes. The only thing that we ask is that you don’t pass urine (pee) for an hour before providing your urine sample.
And don't worry about long wait times. With Bupa’s sexual health services, you can book an appointment on a day and at a time that’s convenient for you.
Anyone who’s had any new sexual partners or unprotected sex since their last sexual health check should have at least one comprehensive sexual health check every year. Whether you’re in a committed relationship or not, regular STI tests can help pick up any infections. This is important so you can get early treatment to prevent health issues further down the line.
Frequent STI tests are especially important if:
- you’re under 25
- you have more than one partner
- have sex without condoms
- you take part in any activities that could be considered high risk for transmission of STIs
Learn more about STIs and sexual health
Our health information covers some common sexually transmitted infections and ways to protect yourself.
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Page last reviewed: 10/10/2023