National STI Awareness Day brings the nation’s Sexual Health under the microscope
In little over a week’s time will see the annual National STI Awareness Day take place, held every January 14th – exactly two weeks after New Year. Two weeks is the timeframe after which the common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, can be detected with a simple STI test kit. One popular example of such a test kit is the Clamelle chlamydia one, available from Medical Specialists® Pharmacy and can be used in the comfort of one’s own home. Sexually active people should be both knowledgeable and careful when it comes to sexual health throughout the whole year however. Failure to use condoms – especially with new sexual partners – can lead to an unwanted pregnancy or one of a number of serious STIs. The awareness day was launched back in 2010 as a method of getting people to think more about their sexual health – it is a day to ask questions about sexual health, and for people to begin to question their own sexual health. Right now, many reading this could be thinking ‘I'm perfectly healthy!’ This may indeed be the case, but is worth remembering that some STIs often don’t display any external symptoms initially for some length of time. Therefore, getting a STI assessment is the only way of finding out. This is particularly crucial in regards to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Unfortunately, HIV does not have a cure. The majority of those infected with HIV will experience a short, flu-like illness which will begin 2 to 6 weeks after infection. There are usually no further symptoms for several years. The next period is known as the asymptomatic HIV infection, an approximate 10 year process where the virus continues to be active and will cause progressive damage to the immune system. Once the immune system is severely damaged, common symptoms include: night sweats, skin problems, chronic diarrhoea, life-threatening illnesses, and more. However, an earlier HIV diagnosis and subsequent treatment is imperative to stopping the serious symptoms from beginning after the virus reaches an advanced stage. It is important that anybody who has put themselves at risk in the past should have a HIV test, even if there are no symptoms of the virus evident. Moreover, it is debatable how many sexually active people are aware that around 70% of women and 50% of men will display absolutely no symptoms at all after contracting chlamydia. Chlamydia remains the most common STI condition in the UK, with the prevalence of infection being the highest in young sexually active adults aged between 15 and 24. Without sufficient chlamydia treatment, the sufferer is at risk of becoming infertile or developing pelvic inflammatory disease. There are other conditions – hepatitis being one – that may be life-threatening in the long-term. So why delay getting an STI assessment…is it really worth leaving it up to chance? It could be easy to adopt a flippant attitude to historical sexual activities…After all nobody wants to imagine that they may have a contracted a STI, but the fact remains that anyone who has previously engaged in unprotected sexual contact (including oral sex) could be at risk. In fact, approximately 1-in-12 who get tested discover they are infected. Although this sounds an alarming statistic, as mentioned previously, many common STIs (i.e. chlamydia) often don’t show any signs or symptoms. Over 95% of people with chlamydia can be cured providing they take antibiotics correctly. There are two antibiotics commonly prescribed for chlamydia treatment, these being a single dose of the azithromycin or doxycycline, taken for one week. If STIs are left untreated, they can become extremely painful or uncomfortable, and even lead to long-term problems such as infertility. If you show signs of any of the following symptoms, then you should seek help: . Unusual vaginal discharge. . Discharge from the penis. . Pain and/or bleeding during sexual intercourse. . Bleeding following sex. . Bleeding between periods. . Blisters, itches, lumps or rashes around the genitals or anus. . Pain in the testicles. Medical Specialists® Pharmacy provide treatments for many of the more common STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital herpes. In addition, Medical Specialists® can provide almost 100% accurate pregnancy tests to be used in the privacy and comfort of a woman’s own home, a wide variety of condoms to suit different preferences, emergency hormonal contraception (morning after pill), other contraceptive pills, and the previously mentioned chlamydia test to be taken at home and posted off for a quick analysis and result, avoiding the time and embarrassment of having to personally attend a clinic for a check-up. To obtain any prescription or antibiotic or contraceptive treatment, all patients must first undergo an online consultation with one of the GMC-registered doctors at Medical Specialists®, or send in a private prescription by post, obtained from the patient's own doctor.