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Safe Sex 101

Safe Sex 101

Fri, Mar 05, 21 - HANX Official

News that the return to ‘normal life’ is just mere months away has most of us dripping with optimism (and all the going out-out gear we’ve bought over the last year) but with freedom on the horizon, what does this mean for our sexual health? We thought it’s probably best we remind you that there’s also a gonorrhoea pandemic predicted for right about… June 21st. So how can we keep ourselves safe post-lockdown? We’re here with Safe Sex 101 to get you back up to speed before we swipe right on good times again.

 

 

What’s an STI?

Over half a million people in the UK are diagnosed with an STI every year. But what are STIs and how prevalent are they really? Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections transmitted via sexual contact and can become sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) if the infection is exacerbated and then leads to disease. There are more than 30 infections to keep an eye out for, with the usual suspects being chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis

 

How could I get an STI?

STIs can be passed on from any form of sex, including and especially oral sex. Our top tip? Use a condom from the start of any sexual contact as infections can be spread by good ol’ bodily fluids, e.g: saliva, vaginal fluids, semen and blood. That’s not all: STIs can also be spread by skin-to-skin contact, with warts and herpes leading the charge. Brush up on your condom-putting-on skills here.


 

How do I know if I’ve got an STI?

A good few STIs and in particular, chlamydia can sometimes be symptomless meaning you could be infected and not even have a clue. We mean it - sometimes no news isn’t good news… If you do however experience symptoms, they’ll be pretty noticeable including urinary discomfort (that’ll pain when you pee), genital itching, unusual discharge, unscheduled menstrual bleeding or spotting and pelvic pain for starters.

 

In order to be diagnosed with an STI, you’ll need to be seen by a healthcare specialist at your GP, GUM clinic, gynaecologist or during COVID times, via a postal STI test. Stats show that there was an 85% reduction in people using sexual health clinics in lockdown 1.0 and this will have ramifications for our sexual health when lockdown restrictions are relaxed and dating/casual sex is back on the cards. Find out the protocol for visiting a clinic during COVID here

 

What happens if I don’t get treatment for an STI?

Firstly, don’t panic. Most STIs can be treated and the sooner you begin treatment, the better as this can prevent any long-term damage to your health. Chlamydia is a great example, as you may only require one dose of antibiotics and that’s that - putting it off is definitely worse than just dealing with it. It’s worth mentioning that long-term infection can cause cervical cancer, chronic pain, pregnancy risks and infertility  and internal scarring. Inform your sexual partners so they can also be tested and seek treatment - awks conversations aside, it’s the responsible thing to do. Here’s some hints of how to do this via healthline.

 

How can I protect myself and my sexual partners from STIs?

Condoms! We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: protect yourself against getting infected in the first place and use an external/internal condom. As the only form of contraception that also works to protect against STIs, condoms are an essential element in practising safe sex. Here’s our top HANX tips for staying safe and keeping those STIs at bay:

 

  • Use internal/external condoms or dental dams at the start of sexual relationships to prevent STIs.

  • Remember to sign up for regular STI tests if you have new sexual partners and bear in mind that whatever information they choose to disclose about their sexual health status, you still need to take control of your own body and ensure your own wellness.

  • Spermicides do not protect against STIs. Products containing spermicides may actually increase your risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Why? The chemical in spermicide (Nonoxynol-9) can irritate vaginas and make it easier for STIs to enter your body.

  • Be aware of unusual symptoms and changes to your body, especially unusual discharge, genital itching or pain when you pee and if you are experiencing these symptoms, book in for an STI test.

 

 

 

Shop our sustainable sexual wellness essentials here, head to the HANX Life forum for straight-up chat about STIs, intimate health scenarios and awks condom buying experiences.