Sexual health is a subject rarely brought up in conversation; it can be seen as embarrassing to talk about and even more embarrassing to act on. But, some people may find it too awkward or uncomfortable to use a condom, risking the chance of a STI, when more people would probably find it more distressing to have symptoms, or find out they have in fact got one.
University has the stigma that many students have casual sex; however with statistics like the one in the title, it is clear that the stigma is in fact a reality. The main piece of advice that any doctor or person would give is to wear a condom. However, if protection isn’t used, the main importance is that you have regular check-ups at your local clinic. STI checks are as easy as having a dental check; I can whole-heartedly say this, because I have been for them. Just like any person in their profession the practitioners are all trained and make the process pain-free and easy. It may sound cliché, but they have seen it all, so whatever it is that you go in there for, whether it’s a general check-up or because you have symptoms, there is nothing to be ashamed of! I found that actually building the courage to go for a test was way worse than the actual check-up itself!
The main STI to get checked out for is Chlamydia; it is the most common STI among students and unfortunately often has no symptoms. You can get checked out at your local GP, GUM clinic, or any other health service and guess what! Stevo offers chlamydia tests too throughout the year! So why not come down, get tested and get some free pants!
Genital Warts are the second most common STI infection in the UK. They are passed on by skin to skin contact; therefore it isn’t just penetrative sex that will spread them. Genital warts are caused by the HPV virus and aren’t always easy to get rid of. Treatments are available to help with the symptoms, e.g. creams and freezing methods, but more often than not your body will get rid of them on its own.
Like chlamydia, gonorrhoea also often has no symptoms, with 50% of women experiencing no symptoms and 10% of men. It is really important that if you are having casual sex, that you have regular check-ups, because it can only be diagnosed through a urine or swab test!
If you have been worrying about STIs for a while, please don’t let it get you down!! The likelihood is, if you have one, antibiotics or cream can be given to get rid of the infection. My advice is: consolidate in someone, whether it’s a friend from home or uni, a Welfare Rep, or a doctor. Talking about it will take the worry away immediately, and if you want a friendly face to go with you, then just ask. I took my best friend with me, the first time I went for a check-up and I found it made it a lot easier.
P.S. A final piece of guidance, always book an appointment if you can! The wait can often take over an hour, so it will be much easier to just walk in, than sit in the waiting room worrying.
I hope this little blog helps and I will always be around campus if you need to ask me any questions! J Holly x