Why are people risking STI's?
11th March 2019
For quite some time now, unprotected sex has been on the rise. Young people, especially young women, are foregoing protection in the name of risking it and hoping for the best. Despite sex education only becoming more and more advanced, there are still plenty of people who are choosing to ignore the dangers and practice unsafe sex. And while many people's main worry may be becoming pregnant (or impregnating someone), you must not forget about the importance of protecting yourself against STI’s.
The birth control factor
While many people claim to be practising safe sex, they are actually only describing being safe in regards to unwanted pregnancies. According to a survey done by Cosmopolitan, 62% of the women asked were using some sort of birth control, with the pill being the most popular option and the IUD, injection and vaginal ring being alternatives. With most of these methods proving to be over 99% effective (when used correctly), it’s not surprising that women are leaning on them to prevent pregnancy.
However, an important factor to consider is that while the pill, IUD, coil and other methods are 99% effective at protecting against pregnancy, they are precisely zero percent effective at protecting against STI’s.
While taking birth control is a responsible measure that reduces the number of people using the morning after pill and getting abortions, STI’s are a massive part of sexual health and must not be forgotten. The wide availability and effectuality of birth control methods might lead women to feel “safe” when having sex, but it’s important to use condoms too to avoid sexually transmitted infections. When you consider that Chlamydia can often cause no symptoms and can lead to infertility, and that Genital Herpes and HIV are incurable and must be lived with forever, it really is about prevention rather than cure.
Why don’t people use condoms?
In the world of protecting against STI’s, there really is only one option and that is condoms (be it the male or female versions). When used correctly, condoms are 99% effective at protecting against both STI’s and pregnancy and yet many people are choosing not to use them. But why is that?
The popularity of other forms of birth control may contribute, with people considering themselves “safe” from pregnancy and therefore not worrying about STI’s as much as maybe they should. Another factor could be that condoms decrease sensitivity during sex and therefore people don’t enjoy using them, but with advancements being made all the time (thinner feel, ribbed, dotted and specifically tailored for pleasure), there really is no reason to skip them. Plus, you have to consider that no matter how good the sex is, it’s still not worth catching an incurable disease.
Other reasons that people may not choose to use condoms could be due to embarrassment over bringing the subject up (especially with a new, casual partner) or awkwardness over actually putting them on. However, sexual health is an important subject and one that you’d surely want any potential sexual partners to be clued up on.
How do I test for STI’s?
So you’ve skipped the condom and are now worried about having potentially picked up a sexually transmitted infection; what do you do next? Well, getting tested for STI’s is quick, easy and mostly pain-free.
To test for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, you must wait at least 2 weeks after having unprotected sex (as to test any sooner than this may give you false results). The test is a simple cotton swab inserted into the vagina for women, and a quick urine sample test for men. Sometimes men do require a cotton swab too, inserted into the urethra, and while this may be uncomfortable, it’s not painful. This test can be done at your GP, at a sexual health clinic or in the comfort of your own home using our STI kits. The process is simple, the results reliable and it means you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed discussing your sexual health with a doctor or nurse.
To test for HIV or syphilis, you will need to get a blood test done. The sample required is usually only a very small amount and can be done using a finger prick, rather than a needle inserted into the veins on the inside of your arm. In order to get reliable test results, you should do the test between 1 week and 3 months after unprotected sex for syphilis, and between 6 weeks and 3 months after unprotected sex for HIV. Again, these tests can be done at your GP or sexual health clinic, but we do offer at-home-kits for HIV testing, to allow you to complete this yourself.
In regards to infections such as genital herpes or genital warts, there is not a standard test for these. This is because they are very rarely symptomless and you should be able to tell quite quickly if you have contracted either infection. Genital warts produces small fleshy lumps in the genital area, while genital herpes produces painful sores in the genital area and if you notice either of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor.
If you do get tested for sexually transmitted infections and end up with a positive result, then you will need to get treated. For Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia, treatment involves a short course of antibiotics that clears the bacteria and relieves the infection. For genital herpes and HIV, you will need to manage the disease for life using a variety of treatment options. While you will need to consult your doctor for HIV treatment, we stock a variety of medications for other sexual health complaints at UK Meds.