It’s Valentine’s Day! It’s a time of year where there’s often an extra emphasis on what’s happening in the bedroom. What better time to think about what’s happening in your pants while you’re at it?
In terms of sexually transmitted infections (STI), general good practice dictates that those that are sexually active should take the time to get tested on a regular basis. We all (hopefully) learned sex ed in elementary school (to varying degrees, and in different curriculums), but sometimes we need a reminder of the ins-and-outs.
Things to Know Before You Go
How often you check in on your health is up to you, but the general consensus often leans towards schedules such as — once a year, when starting a new relationship, or even a few times a year to be extra safe.
Some things to keep in mind when going for your check-up:
- Timing — Infections like gonorrhea are present in your system after a few days while HIV may take a few months to show on tests.
- Symptoms — many STIs don’t have any symptoms at all which makes it hard to know it’s time to schedule a trip to the doctor.
- Exam — testing is often done through urine or blood work – we’ve come a long way from super intrusive swabs!
- Treatment — the majority of STIs are cured with a round of antibiotics and those that aren’t curable may have medication to manage your symptoms.
Check out this handy chart for more comprehensive information!
STIs Are Here To Stay
Currently, we are seeing some interesting stats coming out about sexually transmitted infections around the world. For example, in the UK they have found drastic declines in the spread of HIV over the last few years. This may be in part to modern medications that make the disease untransmittable and untraceable or, possibly, education finally taking hold and safe sex practices being upped. On the flip-side, our hometown London has seen a drastic jump in reported cases of syphilis — a disease that was most prominent after the middle ages!
The best method to completely avoid an STI is abstinence, but in the real world, informing yourself on safe sex practices is the way to go. Condoms are quite effective in preventing the spread of STIs. However, they are not 100% effective, especially when they are not used properly. And don’t forget that STIs can be spread orally — there have been several cases in the last few years of people contracting chlamydia in their throats which can lead to infertility and possibly cancer.
We are lucky here in London that our London Middlesex Health Unit offers free screening clinics for STIs. If you don’t have a family doctor or don’t want to wait at a walk-in clinic, you can go see their specialized staff during their STI clinic hours.
If you are diagnosed with an STI, don’t be ashamed — it happens! It’s important to reach out to your partners and let them know your status and work through your treatment plan. The majority of STIs are cured with a round of antibiotics. Others have options to keep your symptoms at bay and to limit the impact on your everyday life. It’s important to learn how to manage your sexual health and ensure you aren’t spreading the infection further.