Whether you’re single or in a relationship, looking after your sexual health is essential. It only takes one slip up to get into big trouble. The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from problems like sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies. Here are a few of the most important.
Get yourself tested
The truth is, if you’ve had unprotected sex, there’s a risk you’ll have caught an STI. These infections can be passed worryingly easily from one person to another, and if left untreated, they can seriously damage your health and harm your fertility. Sometimes, it's easy to spot the signs of infection, but this isn’t always the case. For example, chlamydia is the most common STI in Britain and although chlamydia symptoms can include a burning sensation or pain when urinating, many people with this infection don’t know they have it.
So, regardless of whether you think you have an STI or not, it’s best to get yourself tested just in case. You can do this at a range of different places, such as your GP surgery, a sexual health clinic or a GUM clinic. Some tests are also now available through online pharmacies.
Practise safe sex
To avoid the fear of infection in the the first place, it’s wise to practise safe sex. For example, with new partners it’s always best to use condoms. These are the only form of contraception that can protect you against both pregnancy and STIs. If you have a long-term partner and you’re confident you’re both clear of infections, you might want to explore other types of contraceptives. Options can include anything from the combined pill to the contraceptive implant and the intrauterine device. In fact, there are more than 10 different methods to choose from. If you don’t know what’s best for your and your partner, you can get advice from a doctor.
Taking responsibility for your sexual health is a must if you want to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can be intimate with your partner without having to worry about unwanted implications for your wellbeing.
Know your options when it comes to emergency contraception
It’s also a good idea to be aware of the types of emergency contraception available. Let’s face it, accidents can happen, and whether a condom has split or you’ve simply forgotten to use your normal method of birth control, it’s vital that you know what to do. There are two forms of emergency contraception that can prevent you from getting pregnant - the morning after pill and the emergency coil. You can access either from a range of places, including your GP or a local sexual health clinic. The morning after pill is also available from pharmacies. You can access full information about these options from reputable health websites or by speaking to a medical professional.
It’s never worth taking chances when you’re dealing with your sexual health, so it pays to be proactive and take control.