It’s fair to say that there has traditionally been a stigma around sexual health, particularly in relation to its association with STIs and the apparent judgements made about people being treated for them. The old adage was that ‘nice girls didn’t’ – but today, whether they do or don’t, it’s more important than ever to be safe and well.
The fact is that most of us will have several sexual partners during our lifetime, and incidences of STIs are rising, especially those which are very easily communicable, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. These are bacterial, and in some urban areas and age groups, up to 10pc of people can have them without even realising. Some of the most common STIs don’t even have reliable symptoms. Both chlamydia and gonorrhoea, for example, can be symptom-free yet cause damage internally. For women, this can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which can cause infertility and other problems if not treated.
Making It Easier
There’s no doubt that it can be a little embarrassing going to have STI tests done at a local clinic, but the best way to approach it is to have an annual sexual health check-up in exactly the same way that you would safeguard and check other aspects of your health. As well as sexual health checks, clinics can offer other services such as free contraceptives, pregnancy advice, general sexual health and reproductive guidance and more. Many will also contact any previous partners for you anonymously so that STIs can be stopped without identifying individuals. This is very important for timely treatment.
Testing at Home
You can also get tested at home to make things really easy. In London STI testing kits from local and reputable clinics are widely available – see https://www.checkurself.org.uk/order-a-test-kit/. If you find that you have a positive result, you can either be sent your treatments by post or be advised to see your GP or local GUM clinic as needed. These tests are reliable and easy to do in the comfort of your own home.
You’ll also find plenty of online resources too from local providers such as the council or local health services.
These offer access to information, helplines, sources of support and non-judgemental confidential advice to help you to take control of your sexual health.