How often do you think about your sexual health? Did you know most STI’s have no symptoms at all and may be present without you knowing? This doesn’t mean it’s ok to ignore your sexual health, far from it. It’s very important to get yourself checked regularly.
It’s most important to wear a barrier contraceptive in the prevention of STI’s, ie condom, female condom. While this will help prevent most, it does not protect against STI’s such as pubic lice (crabs), genital warts and genital herpes, which can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. It is also important to put on a condom immediately as pre-ejaculate can also pass on STI’s. This is not only applicable to vaginal sex but also anal and oral.
In 2016, according to The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), 86% off all STI’S reported in Ireland were in people under 30 years of age. 15-24 year olds accounted for almost half of chlamydia cases, 43% herpes simplex virus and 37% gonnorhoea cases. It can happen to anyone though, at any time, once you engage in sexual activity.
Attending a GUM clinic (where they test for STI’s) can be daunting but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It just means you’re taking responsibility for your own health and ensuring you don’t give an infection to others. Confidentiality is always maintained in these clinics.
Check out the link below for a list of services across Ireland offering free STI screening: http://spunout.ie/
You can also get it done with your GP but you’ll have to pay for this service. Your college may also provide testing at a reduced rate. Check with your student health centre.
If something is detected, not to worry. For most STI’s an ointment or antibiotic can be prescribed to clear things up. It’s also important to let your partner know so they can get checked too to prevent getting infected again.