A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Answered Questions

In the years since SmartSexResource launched, we have developed a library of questions asked by you, and answered by our expert sexual health nurses.

Our answered questions library cover a broad range of sexual health topics and common questions we hear at our clinics.

STI Information (58)

I just had protected vaginal intercourse for 30 seconds about a month ago and I didn’t have much skin to skin contact. It’s been a month and I haven’t had any symptoms. What are my chances of getting genital herpes or syphilis?

Using a condom during sex is a great way to protect yourself from STIs. 

You are right however that with skin to skin contact there is always a risk of getting infections that are transmitted this way. 

Getting genital herpes or syphilis is often more complicated than just having direct skin to skin contact as it involves many different factors like at what stage of the infection the person is at who has the infection (do they even have an infection or are they currently having an outbreak or sores), the immunity of the person who may get the infection (are they already immune, are they healthy, are they immunocompromised), the time, timing and nature of the contact… to name some examples.

If you are sexually active, it’s always a good idea to get tested. If you have symptoms you should get tested right away, and if you do not have symptoms you should get tested routinely at least every 3-4 months or so if you have new or different partners. 

More information about “my chances” can be found here: https://smartsexresource.com/about-stis/my-chances


I am really stressed if I have an std or not but I don’t have any symptoms. I had oral and vaginal sex with condom on at all times. I can’t seem to control these thoughts and do sti testing places charge fees for testing. Is it anonymous?

Thank you for your question. 

Using a condom is definitely a great way to protect yourself from getting an STI; especially if it was used for both oral and vaginal sex.

If you are sexually active, it’s a really great idea to go and get tested regularly for STIs as most people who have an STI have no symptoms.

If you are writing from within Canada, testing for STIs is free of charge. Depending on where you go and get tested, you can use your real name, or a pseudonym (not real name). 

This webpage (SmartSexResource) has a list of clinics that offer testing. It can be found here: https://smartsexresource.com/get-tested/clinic-finder

There is also this online testing service that may also work for you: Get Checked Online https://getcheckedonline.com/Pages/default.aspx  It can sometimes offer that extra layer of anonymity for people.



I’ve have oral gonorrhea I’ve had it for over a year but i wasn’t sure what it was and was to embarrassed to talk about it my throat is really bothering me and is swollen can my symptoms be reversed?

Hi there,
Thanks for writing.
Gonorrhea is curable with antibiotics. Did you get treatment for it? You should have been given treatment from the place where you got your gonorrhea test. If you have not returned to pick-up the medication since getting your results, then I would recommend going to get the treatment.
The antibiotics are very easy to take, and the infection will be gone in seven days following treatment.
We do not generally hear about people having symptoms such as sore throat which gonorrhea. Even when we find gonorrhea in the throat through a swab test, it is almost always asymptomatic.
If you’ve been treated for gonorrhea, and continue to have symptoms of a sore throat, then I would recommend going to see another healthcare provider in-person. Many common infections can create a sore throat, for example strep throat and staph infections.
Lastly, we would not expect gonorrhea to live for year in the throat. The tissues in the throat are not the preferred tissues for gonorrhea, and it tends to be quite transient in that part of the body. I wouldn’t assume you’ve had it for a year.
Hope this helps!
Please feel free to submit another question as needed.
Health Nurse

i broke out in red bumps, sores down there like last year. I went to go get it check out and the nurse said it might’ve been herpes. i got soo scared and depressed. Before i left she said “it might or it might be not.. ” Then the results came back, they only told me i had chlamydia and gohnorrhea, but said nothing about the herpes? Can those stis cause sores having it at the same time? Its been 2 years since those sores broke out, ive never had the same thing since.

Thanks for your question.
Were you tested for herpes at the time you tested positive for chlamydia and gonorrhea? Because they should have done a swab on your genital sores, and if they had a positive result from the swab they would have told you. It’s very likely that it wasn’t herpes.
As far as your past symptoms of the sores… we don’t usually think of sores associated with chlamydia and gonorrhea, however those infections can cause increased discharge, and that discharge can irritate the genital tissues and cause skin breakdown. Skin breakdown can feel like small cuts or tears in the skin, which can be painful and sting. Any painful sore will be suspected to be herpes, which is likely why the nurse said that.
The fact that you haven’t had any repeat sores show up, makes it even less likely that it was herpes.
Since you weren’t given an official herpes diagnosis based on your testing, I would assume it was not herpes.
Herpes can be scary to think about, but I hope you can feel better about this now.
Please let us know if you have any additional questions, or need more information.
Health Nurse

Hi. Am sharot from Uganda I had possible exposure on 17th July condom broke with man tested HIV positive.at 2nd August I tested, at 14th September non reactive the value number was 0.9,9th October negative they use alert determani rapid HIV test ag/ab, and at 27th October alert determine (ab) negative.my question is do I need to get tested again at 6months? coz I got all symptoms and I still have flu-like symptoms.


This website is based in Canada, and we cannot comment on the tests you had done in Uganda. I don’t know if they are the same tests we use in Canada, or if the tests are different.

In Canada, the 4th generation HIV test (AG/AB) is not a rapid test, but a blood tube we send to the lab. This test is 75% accurate at 3 weeks, and 100% after 3 months.

We also have the rapid test (called an Insiti test) which is a 3rd generation HVI test (AB only). This test is 90% after 4 weeks, and 100% after 3 months.

If you used our test, we would say that you don’t have HIV given a negative test from Oct 27th, which is more than 3 months past the date of potential exposure.

I would just ask the people who did your testing for the window period of the test they used. I would be surprised if it is very different than the 4th generation test we use.

Lastly, regarding your flu-like symptoms, those symptoms can be caused by mange things, including stress, seasonal cold/flu, etc. We would not suspect HIV just based on your symptoms.

Hope this helps!

Please feel free to submit another question if needed

Health Nurse

is it safe to use a condom after treating STI within the seven days/week?


The short answer is no.

To be on the safe side we recommend that you do not have sex until:

  • one week after your 1-day treatment; or
  • your 7-day treatment is complete, and
  • your sex partner(s) have also been treated, even if their test results are negative.

While condoms reduce the chance of passing chlamydia and gonorrhea, there is still a possibility of passing them even when a condom is used.

Even after you start taking treatment for chlamydia and/or gonorrhea, you can still pass them in the first 7 days. It takes 7 days for the medication to treat these infections. Only after 7 days is the chance of passing these infections gone.

Even if your partner is taking treatment at the same time as you, we still say do not have sex until after 7 days. The treatment won’t work if someone is re-exposed to chlamydia or gonorrhea in those 7 days.

If you can’t avoid having sex for 7 days, then using a condom will help lower the chance of passing the STI to your partners, but there is no guarantee.

In addition to passing the infection to your partner(s) (or back to yourself), it’s important to avoid sex when you have chlamydia or gonorrhea because the STI can increase your risk of getting HIV. Once the chlamydia or gonorrhea is gone, the HIV risk is normal again.

If you did have sex during the 7 days, then we recommend that you talk to the doctor or clinic where you got the treatment. In some situations, they will recommend that you and your partner(s) get re-treated, or they may suggest that you come back for a follow-up test in 4 weeks.

Have a look at our web page on chlamydia for additional information.

Health Nurse

For other readers, please feel free to leave a comment, or let us know if this was helpful.

I have hsv 1 and 2. Not sure if both are on the genitals since i have never had a cold sore and i never gotten a viral culture done on a sore. I had someone over for the night. I mention to him i didn’t want to have sex but in the morning he tried really hard to turn me on. He wanted to masturbate me so i let him. I am human, he had turn me on even though i told him no a multiple times. I didn’t think any harm would come out of it if he just touched me a little bit. He says he washed his hands a couple of minutes after but i do not know if he touched himself or anywhere in the mean time prior washing his hands. The thing is when i got at work i noticed 2 hours later i had a couple of vesicules forming. I do not know if they were there in the morning or not. It didn’t hurt when he was touching me but it did start to hurt after noticing the sores. I felt like something was going on an hour after this morning accident. What are the chances/ likelyhood that i transmitted my herpes to him? Should i worry? Like i said im not sure what he did prior washing his hands. Might of touch his boxers or his penis. I don’t know.


Thanks for writing.

The short answer is: No, you shouldn’t worry. From the encounter you describe it sounds unlikely you would have passed herpes to your partner.

The longer answer is: Genital herpes is not generally transmitted to hands. Herpes prefers the tissues around the mouth and genitals, and we do not see herpes on transferred to people’s hands.

If your partner touched their genitals to your genitals, or their mouth to you genitals, then herpes can be passed that way. We call that direct skin-to-skin contact. Herpes is not passed through in-direct contact (ie. hands, towels, etc.)

It’s very possible that the touching you received from your partner triggered the vesicles to appear. However, this doesn’t mean that you passed herpes to your partner.

Lastly, I wanted to acknowledge that it can be difficult for many people to navigate sexual consent. It’s great to hear you were communicating with your partner about  your sexual needs, and not wanting to have sex. I’m sorry to hear that there was pressure on you to do more. You are entitled to your own body and your own boundaries. Sometimes pressure to have sex is called “coercive sex”. If you want any more information about these issues, check out these links:

Hope this helps. Please let us know if this answers your question, or if you need any more information.

Health Nurse

I just found out my partner has had unprotected sex with other women. I’ve been having troubles with bacterial vaginosis at times. Could this be related? When I found out, I did have STI testing and he did also.


Thanks for writing.

That can be difficult to hear that your partner is having unprotected sex with other people. It’s great that you both got tested after.

In terms of the bacterial vaginosis, it’s unlikely to be affected by your partner’s activities. Bacterial vaginosis is not sexually transmitted, or passed between partners. Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria (so it’s not “bad” bacteria), and it’s your own bacteria (so it didn’t come from anyone else).

It’s common for women get bacterial vaginosis whether they are sexually active or not. Many women will get bacterial vaginosis frequently for a few years, and then it can settle down and not come back. Sometimes women who have multiple sexual partners can get bacterial vaginosis more often, as they are being directly exposed to different people’s bacteria. You would not be exposed to other people’s bacteria through your partner (normal bacteria can’t be passed indirectly, only STIs can be passed indirectly).

Lastly, just a reminder than it can take up to 3 months for STIs to show-up in testing. If you only got tested a few weeks after your partner had other partner’s, it would be good to get re-tested after 3 months just to be sure.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to comment below or submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse

My partner is uncircumcised, can this increase my chance of getting BV? I’ve had recurrent BV and trying to figure out ways to prevent and minimize this annoying infection.


Thanks for writing.

Having a partner who is uncircumcised does not increase your risk for bacterial vaginosis (BV).

BV is not sexually transmitted, or passed between partners. Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria (so it’s not “bad” bacteria), and it’s your own bacteria (so it didn’t come from anyone else).

BV can be very frustrating for many people. The vagina is prone to change, and changes in vaginal pH can lead to BV. It’s common to get BV frequently for a few years, and then not get it again.

BV is treated with antibiotics. There is also some research that shows a natural supplement called Boric Acid can be used to prevent BV. Boric acid is not antibiotics, but it can help to stabilize the vaginal pH, if you find you are having a frequent BV. For more information on Boric Acid please contact a compounding pharmacy near you, or contact Finlandia Pharmacy in Vancouver.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to comment below or submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse

My partner let me know that he’s been paying for sensual massage services with a “happy ending”. What is the STI risk?


Thanks for your question.

Sensual massage is low-risk for STIs.

Massage with a “happy ending” can mean different things, but often it means that the person receiving the massage also receives sexual stimulation until they ejaculate (cum). The “happy ending” can be done by hand (“hand job”) or mouth (oral sex or “blow job”).

If the “happy ending” is done by hand, then it is very low-risk for STIs. If the “happy ending” was done by mouth (without a condom), then there is a risk for STIs, including: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes and HPV. A person can have these STIs without having any symptoms, and the only way to know if they have an STI is to get tested. If the “happy ending” is done by mouth with the condom on, then it is very-low risk for STIs.

If you’re able to speak with your partner more about how he receives the “happy ending” you will have more ideas about potential STI risks.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to comment below or submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse