STD’s – Understanding Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These are a group of illnesses spread through unprotected sexual contact. Anyone engaging in sexual activity is at risk of contracting an STD from an infected partner if proper protection (eg: condoms) is not used.

There are over 25 different types of STDs that can be transmitted during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. If left untreated, these infections can cause serious health problems. This can include infertility and permanent health damage. Even individuals in long-term relationships are susceptible, as some STDs can lie dormant in the body without causing symptoms for an extended period.

The Risks of STDs

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing STDs effectively. However, many infections show no signs or symptoms, making you unaware of their presence until significant harm has occurred. The best way to prevent this is by regularly checking your sexual health, especially if you are sexually active.

Sexual Health Checks and STD Tests

If you are concerned about having an STD or are planning a pregnancy, visit your doctor or local GUM (Genitourinary Medicine) clinic for testing. GUM clinics are located all over the UK. They treat all information with complete confidentiality and will not disclose anything to your doctor unless you request them to. You can find your nearest GUM clinic by clicking here.

Home testing kits are also available for a variety of STDs. Tests can be bought for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and HIV. These kits can be bought from us here at Zoom Health. They provide a quick and convenient way to monitor your sexual health without the need for a clinic visit.

Reducing the Risk of STDs

To minimise the risk of contracting STDs, it’s essential to get to know new partners before engaging in sexual activity. Rule number one – always use condoms until you are certain that neither of you has any infections. Trust is a crucial factor in this process. The only way to know for sure is for both partners to undergo comprehensive testing for all infections.

The big thing to remember here – you can’t always tell if you or your partner has a sexual infection. After all, neither of you might have any symptoms. Look at other forms of sexual intimacy. Kissing, stroking, and touching are all okay. Always use condoms on sex toys if they are being shared between partners.

Talking About Sex with Him or Her

Open and honest chat with sexual partners is essential for looking after your sexual health and stopping the spread of nasty STDs. While it may feel uncomfortable or awkward, discussing sexual history, testing, and protection is crucial for building trust with your partner, and for making well informed decisions.

Before having full on sex, or even just messing about, it’s important to have a proper chat with your partner about their sexual health status. Get your cards on the table. Do you/ they have any previous STD diagnoses or concerns? This talk should be approached with empathy, non-judgement, and a shared goal of safety and wellbeing.

Encourage your other half to get tested for STDs. And then to share their results with you. If either of you tests positive for an infection, seek prompt medical treatment and cut-out sexual contact until cleared by your GP later on. Remember, some STDs can be transmitted even when no symptoms are present, so regular testing is essential.

Consent and Respecting Boundaries

Consent is the biggie when it comes to sexual health and wellbeing. Actively agreeing to engage in sexual activity without coercion or pressure. Especially after one or both of you have been drinking.  This is essential. Consent should be enthusiastic, ongoing, and can be withdrawn at any time. Don’t forget this ever …

Respect your partner’s boundaries and limits. No way can you just assume consent based on previous sexual encounters or the nature of your relationship. Talking is the big key here – check in with your partner frequently, ensure they are comfortable and consenting to each aspect of sexual activity.

Remember, it’s okay to say no to any sexual act or encounter, regardless of the situation. If your partner pressures you or disregards your boundaries, that is a form of sexual assault, and you have the right to seek help and support.

Treating STDs

Most STDs can be easily treated if detected early doors. Medications can often control infections that cannot be cured, such as HIV. Vaccinations are available to protect against hepatitis A and B if you believe you may be at risk of contracting these infections.

Talking Condoms and Safe Sex

Condoms can be picked up everywhere. Yet many people still feel embarrassed about purchasing them. However, condoms can now be bought from various locations, including vending machines in pubs and nightclubs.Supermarkets are also a good place to go to buy condoms. Use the self checkout if you would rather people did not see what you were buying! 😊

When it comes to condoms. Always check for a BS kite mark as a sign of quality. Remember that condoms are also available for free from your local GUM clinic and family planning clinic.

Let’s get it on!  Using a condom is easy-peasy. Follow the instructions. Practice at home if you have never used one before. Avoid using lube, baby oil or Vaseline with male condoms, as they can damage the material. Buy a good brand. We like Durex, natch! Always check the expiry date and store condoms in a cool, dry place, away from direct light, heat, or moisture. Your beside drawer is fine!

Sex Education and Sexual Health

Sex is a natural, healthy, and enjoyable aspect of life, so enjoy it as much as you want! But it requires thought and preparation to avoid potential problems. Educate yourself about sexual health, risks, and treatments to continue enjoying sex without worry. Remember, open communication and trust between partners are crucial for maintaining a fulfilling and safe sexual relationship.

Photo “Nurse” by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Health

Zoom Health is a leading UK supplier of Home Health Tests and Earplugs

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