Protect Yourself from Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Protect Yourself from Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sex is a wonderful thing, it really is. It not only signifies a bond between you and your lover, but it can also be a freeing experience no matter what your sexuality. However, there is the danger of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, especially if you are sleeping with someone on a casual basis or for the first time. 

In this article, we’ll look at the facts around STD transmission, what to look out for if you feel you may have been put at risk and how you can limit the chances of contracting an infection in the first place.

STI Facts

Although cases of STIs in 2016 were on the decrease across England, sexual health charity FPA thinks this could be down to fewer tests being carried out, rather than a decrease in the number of STIs being transmitted.  

The figures released by Public Health England show over 417,000 new cases reported across the nation with the most common sexually transmitted infections being chlamydia and genital warts with 202,546 and 62,751 positive results respectively.

Unfortunately, when it comes to HIV, cases continue to rise across England with gay men being at the highest risk. Of the 4,551 men diagnosed with HIV in 2015, 54.5% were gay. In total, just under 89,000 people in England were living with diagnosed HIV and accessing HIV care (FPA, 2017).

STD Symptoms

While some sexually transmitted diseases do carry a host of symptoms, some don’t show anything whatsoever. In this section, we’ll take a look at the most common STIs and what you should be aware of if you believe you have contracted an infection.

The Symptoms of Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK and it’s often dubbed a silent disease, due to the fact that very often, it doesn’t show itself whatsoever. Chlamydia in men could show itself as:

  • An unpleasant burning sensation during urination
  • Discomfort around the testicles
  • Pain in and around the anus –unprotected anal sex can spread the infection here
  • Throat infections
  • Conjunctivitis – discharge and pain from around and in the eye

Chlamydia in women can manifest itself in numerous ways, but again, some people don’t show any signs of the disease whatsoever. Things to look out for include:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Stomach pain
  • A vaginal discharge
  • A painful burning sensation during urination
  • Heavier periods than usual (RA Trust, 2018)

Genital Herpes Symptoms

Like chlamydia, genital herpes can be very difficult to spot with symptoms of an impending outbreak not becoming noticeable until about 48 hours before the occurrence. Typical genital herpes symptoms in men include:

  • Tingling pain around the testicles and penis
  • Itchy and red spots that turn into blisters
  • An unpleasant burning feeling during urination
  • Blisters around the anus
  • Cold sores around the mouth
  • A fever or flu-like illness 

The same is also true for women who may also encounter some of the other following symptoms:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Ulcers or blisters on the neck of the womb (the cervix) (RA Trust, 2018)

The Symptoms of Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is one of the most difficult sexually transmitted infections to treat, as for the majority of people, it shows no signs of contraction whatsoever. If symptoms do appear, it’s usually between one day and two weeks after the initial infection. Symptoms of gonorrhoea in men include:

  • White or cloudy discharge from the penis
  • The urge to use the toilet more often
  • Swollen testes
  • Burning or an unpleasant tingling inside the penis

In women, symptoms are similar to those of other STDs, so it’s important to visit a sexual health clinic as soon as you believe you may have been infected. Symptoms include:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the pelvis and in the stomach
  • Bleeding between periods (RA Trust, 2018)

HIV Symptoms

The thought of contracting HIV is a terrifying prospect for anyone, but improvements in care for people suffering from HIV are improving every year. When it comes to the HIV facts, there are a few things that you should know. It’s easy for people to go for many years without suffering from any symptoms of the illness. In this respect, if you think you have been put at risk of infection, it’s absolutely paramount you visit your local GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic as soon as possible to be given a test. Nevertheless, some symptoms of a possible recent HIV infection include:

  • Strong fever or flu-like illness (it’s thought 80% of people with HIV will contract this)
  • Rash across the body
  • Oral ulcers
  • Swollen glands (NHS, 2017)

While great strides are being taken in educating people about the contraction and effects of HIV on the body, it remains a country-wide issue with gay men being at the highest risk of contracting the disease.

 Sexting should be fun and exciting, so don’t forget that! Yes, it might be intimidating at first, but ultimately it should add excitement to your sex life, not leave you terrified.

Protect Yourself

Protecting yourself from contracting an STD is actually pretty simple. At Durex, we are the world’s number 1 brand for condoms, so we like to think that we know what we’re talking about. No matter what size or feel you’re after, there are hundreds of different types of condoms on the market. 

Whether you’re well-endowed or not, Durex condoms are designed for a snug, yet comfortable fit that’s intended to protect not only you, but your partner too. Worn correctly, they have a 98% success rate. In layman’s terms, this means that 2 in 100 women will become pregnant over the course of 12 months when condoms are used as contraception (NHS, 2017). 

One of the most important things to know is how long do condoms last. The “do condoms expire?” question is one that crops up frequently and it’s important to know the correct answers. Condoms do absolutely have an expiration date on them and this is something that should be taken seriously as an expired condom could have reduced effectiveness. 

The majority of Durex condoms have a shelf life of around five years, though some products do have a shorter shelf life of between three and four years depending on the material they’re created from and the variety. It’s paramount that you check the expiration dates of condoms. For Durex, this is printed on each individual condom’s foil wrapper.

Pick the Best Lubes

Selecting the right lubricant is one of the most important factors in engaging in safe sex. Why? Well, water-based lubricants like those in the Durex lubes range are safe to use with all condoms, no matter what material they have been made from, but oil-based products like Vaseline, baby oil or hand cream can actually dissolve the condom, making it weaken during sex (NHS, 2017). 

Hopefully this advice has given you the information you need to ensure you stay safe during sex. Remember though, if someone is pressuring you to have unprotected sex, just walk away and say “no”.

References:

FPA, 2017, New statistics on sexually transmitted infections raise concerns for services

RA Trust, 2018, What are symptoms of chlamydia?

RA Trust, 2018, What are the symptoms of herpes?

RA Trust, 2018, What are symptoms of gonorrhoea?

NHS, 2017, HIV & AIDS

NHS, 2017, Condoms

NHS, 2017, Male condoms: know the facts