STAYING SEXUALLY HEALTHY
There are lots of ways to make sure that you don’t catch any infections in the first place. The most important of these is making sure that you use condoms with a new partner. Not only do they reduce the chances of unplanned pregnancy, but they offer the best protection against STIs. Obviously, most people will have a number of different partners over a lifetime, so it’s important to have an honest conversation about your respective sexual histories with any new partner. If you later decide you don’t want to use condoms, you and your partner should both have an STI test before you consign them to the bin. Unfortunately a lot of surveys show that people are more likely to have unprotected sex when they have been drinking. We’re not necessarily saying go tee-total, but it is definitely a good idea to make sure you stay in control on a night out – or a night in!
It’s also a good plan to slip a condom into your purse or wallet before you go for a night out, whether you’re planning on getting lucky or not!
Even if you are not having penetrative sex, you are still at risk of catching an infection through oral sex or heavy petting, so condom use is advised when engaging in any form of sexual contact.
Good sexual health should be a priority along with appropriate checks taken routinely. Unfortunately for too many people it’s pretty low down on the agenda. But whether you’re 18 or 58, if you’re sexually active then you need to have regular sexual health check-ups. It’s not just your health that’s affected – you could be passing an infection onto your partner. Regular sexual health check ups are crucial because even if you feel perfectly healthy you could still be carrying something – often, sexually transmitted infections present no symptoms. 70% of women and 50% of men with Chlamydia, the most common STI in the UK, have no symptoms. You can only be sure if you get tested. Thankfully, even though there are lots of myths about STI testing, getting a sexual health screen is painless and easy. It’s not invasive and no one is going to judge you, regardless of what your sexual history is. You may be asked about your past, but it’s only to help provide you with the right advice. No matter what you get up to in the bedroom, the nurse or doctor should not be shocked!
Usually you will be asked to provide a urine sample or a swab will be taken by a doctor or nurse. Some tests, such as those for HIV or syphilis, need a blood sample.
If you do test positive for anything, then the doctor will prescribe treatment. This is usually a simple course of antibiotics. Advice about how to tell any partners who may be affected is also available.
You can visit your local GUM (genitor-urinary medicine) clinic, doctor or there are clinics that offer testing online. We recommend The STI Clinic for quick and reliable sexual health testing. The STI Clinic is one of our sponsors and they offer referrals from this website of 5% off when entering STIQ during the purchase process.