STIs are one of the biggest concerns in sexual health along with unwanted or dangerous pregnancies. All freedoms come with their benefits and their costs, and sex is no exception. In the last few years, STI contagion has peaked in the United Kingdom, to the point that public health organisms have turned their heads towards this particula area of our lives. The government is aware of the need to create and mantain good sex health programmes and educational campaigns, so everyone has the chance to carry out a safe and fullfilling sex life.
Many STIs are out there, being passed on from person to person, and it’s impotant to get to know them so we can identify them, protect ourselves - and others - from them, and also be aware of the importance of getting tested and undergoing treatment if necessary.
Here are some of the most frequent sexually transmitted infections in the United Kingdom.
This is one of the most frequent sexually transmitted infections in the UK as well as one of the trickiest ones to treat. It is caused by bacteria that are present in genital fluids and can be passed on through sexual contact of any sort. You can have an infection in your genitalia, rectum, throat or even eyes.
Most cases of gonorrhoea are asymptomatic, especially in women, which is dangerous because this infection can cause infertility, pregnancy complications and chronic pain if left untreated. Many people with gonorrhoea don’t know they have it. Common symptoms include pain when passing urine, an unusual discharge, or discomfort in the infected area.
Just as gonorrhoea, chlamydia is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are the most frequently diagnosed STIs in the UK. The symptoms and risks associated with chlamydia are very similar too. It can be transmitted through any form of contact with genital fluids of an infected person, which may happen during vaginal, anal or oral sex as well as foreplay and sharing sex toys.
Symptoms include burning or pain when passing urine, swollen testicles, pain or bleeding during sex, abnormal periods and abdominal pain. An untreated chlamydia infection may cause infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
This is another bacterial STI, which is quite different and less common than the other two. However, syphilis can still be very dangerous if untreated. Usual symptoms of the infection include the apparition of sores around genitalia or the mouth, and skin rashes in several parts of the body. The infection can be latent in the body for months or years before complications start to be evident.
Syphillis is very easy to treat, but if you don’t take the medication you can develop serious neurologial problems and even die of the disease.
Bacteria are living beings, and as such they can evolve and adapt to their environments. We constantly try to kill them with antibiotics, so they defend themselves by mutating and becoming resistant to them. That’s how, in time, it becomes harder and harder to fight infections with the same medication as always, and so we need to develop new therapies for the same infections.
Research shows that in the last few years, many strings (sorts) of bacteria that cause STIs, including gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphillis, are becoming more and more resistant to the usually prescribed antibiotics. Some experts say that overprescription and misuse of antibiotics may partially be the cause of this peak.
Further research and education is needed to inform doctors of antibiotic resistant strings and how to change prescriptions in order to attack these diseases more effectively. Some resistant traits are regional, so what works in an area might not be as effective someplace else. If you’d like to read further about this research, more information can be read here.
In oder to prevent complications and passing on the disease, you should get tested for STIs regularly, especially if you exchange sexual partners often or you have recently gained a new partner. Testing for STIs is much easier than people think, it doesn’t hurt and you can get the results within days. If you test possitive, a week on antibiotics should be enough to get you cleaned off.
You can go to the GUM clinic to get tested, but if you don’t want to wait of if you feel uncomfortable about going there, there are online clinics that sell test kits that you can use in the comfort of your home. You take the sample yourself and send it to the clinic in an envelope. See more info here: www.homediagnostics.co.uk.
Swing by for a cup of , or leave me a note: