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Treat yourself to great sexual health

August 1st, 2005

Dr Petra

Today sees the launch of Sexual Health Week in the UK where we’ll be looking to increase awareness of sexual and reproductive health issues.

And it is an issue we need think about. In the UK more than 600,000 sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diagnosed every year, and rates of STIs have increased by 22% across the UK in the past few years.

A new survey by the sexual health information resource playing safely reveals many people aged 18-30 are not aware of STI risks.

The survey of over 1000 people revealed the following:

Only 1 in 5 respondents had taken condoms on holiday with them last year. In fact women were more likely to pack hair straighteners and men plasters than either gender was to pack condoms in their suitcases. Of those who did take condoms away over 2/3 didn’t bother to take them out on a night out – leaving them behind in their holiday luggage.

However over 53% of people surveyed stated they intended on having sex with one or more partners whilst on holiday this year, and whilst the rates of STIs continue to rise, over ¾ of those surveyed claimed they didn’t think they were at risk of catching an STI.

Whilst many STIs can be treated quickly and efficiently, some like HIV cannot be cured. Others like chlamydia may be symptomless and lead to infertility. You can’t tell just by someone’s appearance whether they have an STI, and although people may assume they aren’t at risk they usually know someone who has had an STI.

I want people to have a great sex life, and for those on holiday to enjoy a fantastic time. To kick off Sexual Health Week here’s ten tips for enjoying safer, saucier, sex:

1. Always pack a condom with you – in your handbag or pocket when out for a night on the town or when meeting a new partner – and in your suitcase when going on holiday. Remember to also take your condoms out of your suitcase once you arrive at your destination so you can always have them with you.
2. Check your friends also carry condoms – take extras so you can share with them so when you go out you’re all covered.
3. Make sure your condoms are not past their sell by date, carry the CE mark, and ensure they don’t come into contact with oil based products that might lead to them working less effectively.
4. Carry condoms yourself whether you’re male or female, gay, straight or bi. Don’t rely on a partner doing it for you – and if they don’t want to use condoms think twice about sleeping with them. After all someone who won’t put your needs first when it comes to using a condom isn’t exactly going to put your needs first anywhere else during sex.
5. Remember contraceptives like the pill, implant or patch only protect women from pregnancy, not from STIs – so use a condom to protect you from STIs.
6. Use condoms for casual sex or with a new partner. If your relationship develops you can review your contraceptive use and check for STIs.
7. Some STIs can be transmitted via oral sex, so if you want to go down on a partner use a dental dam or condom. Guys may be surprised that partners will be more willing to go down on them when their dick’s covered by a cherry, chocolate or even curry flavoured condom!
8. Pop a little bit of condom friendly lubricant inside the condom to ensure it gives a bit more friction for pleasure during sex.
9. Condoms come in a range of shapes, sizes, textures, colours and flavours. You can get condoms free from your GP or Family Planning Clinic. You can buy condoms at your pharmacy or supermarket. The ‘they fit’ range from condomania provides 55 size/width combinations meaning there’s a condom out there to fit your cock like a glove.
10. If you are worried about STIs then call the free and confidential Sexual Health Line on 0800 567 123, or visit Playing Safely for information on STIs as well as finding your nearest genito urinary clinic where you can get tested and treated.

I’ll be spending this week spreading the word about sexual health. This morning you may wake up to hear me on your radio talking about condom use whilst you tuck into your cornflakes. Or you may prefer to drop into this blog where I’ll tackle a new safer sex topic every day this week.

Sexual Health Week’s all about pleasure, enjoyment, confidence, education, communication and staying safe. I’ll be doing my bit to reinforce those messages, as well as giving some hints how your holiday suitcase may contain some hidden sexy surprises – you’ll be amazed what the humble flip-flop can do!

But you’ll have to wait until later in the week for me to tell you :-)

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