LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX
I don't know if it's the age that I'm at now or if it's just the way the world has developed but I find that group conversations somehow inadvertently turn to discussions on relationships and sex. What never seizes to amaze me is how people in their mid 20's still know so little about sex and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)! That may explain why the statistics for unplanned pregnancies and STIs are so high in the United Kingdom.
A particular situation was brought to my attention and I had a sense of déjà vu since I'd heard exactly the same scenario before. This girl I know had been experiencing some vaginal symptoms and had gone to get tested. She was told she had thrush and was given treatment to clear it up. The part that shocked me was that she was unaware that the majority of thrush cases were not sexually transmitted (women can get thrush spontaneously) and as a result was suspecting her boyfriend of having infected her! The part of the story that truly baffled me was that, even though she suspected him of cheating on her, she did not plan to confront him about it because she feared it would make her look bad! (This did make me wonder if maybe she too had been getting some action outside of the relationship... *side eye*) The fact that she was making a whole parade of a simple thrush infection left me in a confused state, I didn't know whether to laugh at her stupidity or cry at the fact that she genuinely knew nothing about the risks of having sex and possible STIs.
Another scenario is the one in which a guy from my uni tested positive for chlamydia and accused his girlfriend of cheating. The girl swore she had never cheated and that she also didn't have any symptoms. I knew the girl was very much in love with him (in fact she was obsessed!) and I couldn't see her cheating on him so I asked her to contact her ex and find out if he too tested positive. Sure enough, her ex was positive and she had indeed not cheated. If you don't get regular check-ups and do not present with any symptoms you could be walking around with a STI for years without knowing it. Not only does this sometimes result in irrepairable consequences (chlamydia leads to infertility in women), but you also bring problems and distrust to your new relationship.
Personally I had a great sex education. From the age of 8 to 16 I was educated on sex every year from different perspectives: scientific (egg and sperm), factual (videos and information leaflets) and social (peer pressure and laws around sex). Needless to say I'm pretty clued up on the ins and outs of sex. Also, the teacher that taught me in secondary school was very blunt and one thing she drilled into our heads was "If you can't talk to your partner about sex, don't do it. If the tool looks funny, don't utilize it." They are pretty basic principles but you'd be surprised at the amount of times I've had conversations with girls that have sex but never discuss it with their partner and the guys that have said the coochie smelled funny but they went ahead with it anyway. The number of guys that do not know that chlamydia can be caught from the back of a girl's throat is just ridiculous! Even more shocking is the number of times you hear "OMG we didn't use protection! I really hope we don't get pregnant!". I've never heard a person hope they don't catch HIV.
I've always said that of the consequences of sex, pregnancy is the best one. There is a general assumption that HIV isn't real and that gonorrhoea and chlamydia are easily treated with antibiotics. What people don't seem to understand is that the number of HIV cases in the UK have more than doubled in the past ten years and that chlamydia and gonorrhoea bacteria can become resistant to the antibiotics if the individual is treated too many times. Also, there are some STIs which are much harder to treat like genital warts, and some that you have to deal with for life, like herpes.
People who are sexually active need to make it their business to know all the possible infections that could be contracted while having sex and getting regular check ups should become the norm. I would go as far as to say that when entering a new relationship both parties should get tested to ensure the relationship starts on a clean slate (and a timeline of infection can be determined! None of those "My ex infected me before you and I got together" lies! *side eye*).
People these days are just too quick to discuss how freaky they get in the bedroom but have issues keeping themselves safe. Is sex really worth playing Russian roulette with your health?
If you have been affected by the contents of this post you can contact NHS Direct for free sexual health advice on
First Published: Nov 14, 2011