Get aware and protected for Sexual Health Week
You may not be aware of it but this week as well as being National Cholesterol Week, is also Sexual Health Week. Pioneered by The Family Planning Association (FPA) and proudly supported by Medical Specialists Pharmacy, the aim of this week is to promote awareness of a wide variety of sexual health issues. Each year the FPA focus on a different subject in a bid to get people aware and looking after their sexual health. Back in 2009 the main topic of this week was looking at sex and alcohol, in 2010 it was sexual health in the over-50’s, in 2011 it was ‘The Facts of Life, how and when to talk to your children about puberty, relationships and sex’, and now this year in 2012 the FPA and Brook are working together on the ‘XES We can’t go backwards’ campaign. For those not in-the-know about this new national campaign and its aims, it is a campaign urging people to join in against fighting budget cuts, policy changes, and more specifically; the lack of easy access to contraception due to closures of sexual health centres or alterations to their opening hours. Basically the main premise of the campaign is to protect contraceptive rights and choice. Both leading sexual health charities FPA and Brook, say that they are receiving an ever-growing number of calls from worried and unhappy members of the public, being denied basic access to the advice, products and services that they require. FPA Chief Executive, Julie Bentley, commented: “We are seeing the beginnings of a crisis in this critical women’s health issue. Modern contraception is effective in stopping unplanned pregnancy and is also highly cost effective. But it is simply useless if women are stopped from accessing and using it. A woman’s reproductive years span over half of her lifetime and every reproductive choice she makes carries social, economic, and personal consequences. There’s a genuine risk that we’re slipping back to the dark ages. We cannot stand by and wait for the crisis to happen – we’ve got to act now.” Adding to Julie Bentley’s comments was Brook Chief Executive, Simon Blake, who said: “A blend of different circumstances in sexual health are forming into a toxic mix. Services are being cut, and budgets reduced, the national sexual health and teenage pregnancy strategies have ended, the NHS is being radically reformed and there are attempts by a small vociferous minority to undermine women’s reproductive rights. By working with the public to understand the true scale of the problem, this campaign will help to protect the improvements made in recent years so everyone can access the contraception and advice they are entitled to. We simply cannot and must not go backwards.” The FPA and Brook are now urging people in the UK to embrace the scheme and also to discuss and rate their own personal experiences of contraception services, both good and bad. This can be done via the interactive online sexual health map at www.wecantgobackwards.org.uk. However it is not only the UK who is involved in promoting sexual health this week. Australia are also doing their bit for Sexual Health Week, with many public health experts speaking out and encouraging everyone to ask their doctor for regular sex health check-ups as well as to continue with safe-sex practices such as making sure to wear a condom. Health authorities over in Australia have initiated a scheme called ‘Check it Out’, aimed at targeting the high spreading of the sexually transmitted infection chlamydia, which also happens to be the most common STI in the UK too. The decision to focus the majority of their efforts on chlamydia may have something to do with the recent publication of figures that show that chlamydia rates are continuing to increase by an average of 15% every year among 16 – 25 year olds in the South Eastern Sydney region of Australia. Director of Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Dr Anna McNulty, commented that though increased rates of diagnosis may be due to more testing for the STI, notification rates continued to remain high amongst gay men. She said, “This is largely due to increased testing for Chlamydia, but also due to increased Chlamydia notification rates, which are unfortunately still high amongst gay men, and more so, men who have sex with men. Many people who have an STI do not have any obvious symptoms or signs, particularly with Chlamydia, which often has no symptoms. Chlamydia is easy to test for with a urine test and, like many STIs, is easily treated with a simple dose of antibiotics. But it is better to have never had it at all. Chlamydia is easily prevented by using condoms. We encourage young people who are sexually active to use condoms and to see their GP, local sexual health clinic or youth health service to check out their sexual health and regularly test for STIs, in particular Chlamydia.” If you do suspect you may have chlamydia, Medical Specialists Pharmacy can provide the Clamelle chlamydia test kit from just £24.85, which can be used in the privacy of your own home to avoid an embarrassing trip to the doctor. Or, if you have been confirmed as having this or gonorrhoea, the antibiotic Azithromycin can prevent the spread of the bacteria so that your body’s natural defences can fight back and remove the infection from your system. We also have the antiviral prescription medication Valtrex which helps to slow the spread of the herpes virus. To minimise the risk of catching and spreading an STI, men must always wear condoms, and this is where we come in. We have a massive selection of condoms at fantastic prices such as the highly sought after Durex Performax Intense. This particular condom benefits both partners. It contains a lubricant – benzocaine 5%, which will prolong his climax, whilst the outside of the condom is ribbed and dotted to heighten her orgasm. On top of this we have a huge range of different condoms in our expanding chemist shop such as Durex Play Vibrations, which can be used in conjunction with a condom to add to the pleasure!