Valentine’s Day is here, and with romance in the air there’s no better time to start thinking about your sexual health!
Sexual health is an essential part of your emotional and social well being, so there’s no need to feel awkward or shy away from talking about it. It’s just as important as your physical or mental health, and the good news is that taking control of your sexual health is easier than ever before.
With the right precautions, information and care, you can enjoy a safe sex life and be in the best position you can be to form healthy sexual relationships.
If you are choosing to have any kind of sex, it’s important to have a healthy awareness about the health risks involved, so you can take the rights steps to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Visit The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) for more information
If you’ve had unprotected sex and suspect you may be at risk of an STI, make sure you get tested as soon as possible. Many people with STIs don’t realise they have them, but if left untreated they can put your health at risk. Take control and get tested as early as you can; that way treatment can be started sooner.
Where can I get tested for STIs?
If you’re worried you may have an STI, don’t panic. There are many places you can turn to, to gain advice/guidance, get tested and receive treatment. You can get tested at:
- A sexual health clinic – Find your nearest STI services
- A community contraceptive clinic – Find contraceptive services near you
- Sexual health services – call the national sexual health line on 0300 1237123, or Worth Talking About (for under 18s) on 0300 123 2930
- Some GP surgeries
- Some pharmacies can also test for chlamydia
Self-test kits for STIs are also available online and on the high street, which sometimes can be delivered to your house, if you would prefer to do the test yourself. Read more about self-test kits
If you or your partner aren’t ready for pregnancy, use contraception
You may wish to start a family one day, but if now isn’t the right time – always use protection. There are many different contraceptive options available to you, and your local GP or contraceptive clinic can discuss your choices and help you choose a method that works best for your needs and lifestyle.
Read more about different forms of contraception
Learn about emergency contraception
If you’ve had unprotected sex and now you or your partner could be pregnant, don’t panic! Emergency contraception is available, including the emergency contraceptive pill or the intrauterine device (IUD). Read more about emergency contraception
Talk openly with your partner
Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about your sexual health. A truly intimate relationship is all about good communication, and respecting each other’s wishes, feelings and decisions you make about your bodies. If you want to learn more about healthy relationships, visit https://www.relate.org.uk
Be proactive about your sexual health
Remember, protecting your sexual health is not just for Valentine’s Day! Make sure you’re keeping on top of your sexual health all year round. This means attending checkups and preventive screenings when they’re offered to you, and taking steps to manage existing medical conditions.