Do you know where your local clinic is? Have you ever been for a check up or for contraception? Are you aware of the condition of your sexual health? Regardless of what your answer is please read on.
A study done by the NHS has shown that since 1991 the average number of sexual partners in a lifetime for a woman has increased just over 200% and for a man 130%. With this increase of sexual partners comes the increasing urgency for sexual health awareness and the need for people to act upon that awareness. The state of your sexual health can have serious links to your mental and physical health, if your sexual organs aren’t healthy the rest of your body can’t be. If you aren’t in control of your sexual health and feel scared, ashamed or unbothered by it then your mental health could suffer too. That is just a few of the reasons why you should stay on top of your sexual health and to also be aware of any potential situations which may arise.
Contraception is important for two reasons: to stop any unwanted pregnancies and to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections. If you are morally, religiously or ethically against contraception then that is your journey and that is okay, but please be aware of the importance of getting tested regularly so you know the situation of your health and if you do get pregnant make sure you find the support and help you need to ensure you and your baby have the best start possible.
There are multiple forms of contraception such as LARC’s (Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives) and one use contraception such as condoms. LARC’s include the injection, the implant and IUD’s, these are longer term contraceptives fowhich are inside your body for a long period of time, for example I am on the contraceptive implant which was injected into my arm and will be working for three years. However with these LARC’s you can get them removed at any point or changed out for another form of contraception if you feel like they aren’t working for you. With your other forms of contraception such as the pill, condoms and femidoms, they will only last a small period of time and will need to be repeated on a regular basis. Now please note that the only form of contraception that can reduce the risk of catching an STD is a condom/femidom. Your implant or pill will help prevent any unwanted pregnancies but they will not prevent any sex related illnesses. So if you are on the pill for example that does not mean you don’t need any other forms of contraception, if you are sleeping with someone who you aren’t in a long term exclusive relationship of any form (romantic, friends with benefit etc) and you have no idea of their sexual health or they haven’t been tested then please use a condom to keep yourself and other people safe. You can get free condoms from your local sexual health clinic who will keep your information confidential unless they feel like you are in a grave sense of danger.
My journey with contraception is a fairly short and straight forward one, from the age of 16 I got the contraceptive implant and I have had it ever since. I have known many people in my life that have said that the implant has not worked for them and caused havoc with their periods and their hormones. If you have the implant or any other form of contraception and you feel like it is also causing you issues please go back to either your local sexual health clinic or your doctor to get that problem sorted. I personally did not have these issues because my hormones were so incredibly unbalanced beforehand and my periods were so heavy and painful that I feel like my implant has regulated that. Since it has almost been three years since I had my implant put in, and they only last three years, I have booked an appointment for November to get it removed and hopefully replaced. I have been deliberating over whether to change my method of contraception but I feel like for my life the implant is the best option to take right now, but if when it is replaced I experience any issues at all I will reconsider it. I am not in a position anymore where I regularly use condoms, this is because I am in a long term relationship where we have both been tested and we are not sleeping with anybody else and so there is practically no way we can get any sexually transmitted diseases.
Getting tested is not as scary as it may seem, and there are many misconceptions that may put you off booking an appointment at your local sexual health clinic. First thing that I was first worried about when I went to get tested was that the doctor would be all up in my intimate area which terrified me as a 16 year old, this is not what happens. You go into your appointment and answer some questions about your sexual health, it is very important you answer all questions honestly, and then they provide you with a swab and a tube which you take to a private bathroom and leave in there for the lab to test your sample. I also was so worried that I was gonna see somebody I know or my parents found out that I cancelled my appointment twice, but the truth of it is you’re being responsible and mature and 9/10 even if you see anybody you know they’re not gonna pass on the information because they will be in the same situation feeling the same thing. So try not to be ashamed or embarrassed because looking after your sexual health is just as important as going to the dentist! It is recommended that you get tested after every sexual partner to make sure you know your sexual health status before you have sex with another person, however this is not always plausible. It is not always easy to get appointments straight away especially when drop in sessions are losing funding, just try to get appointments and go as regularly as possible so you are aware of your situation.
Please know that sex is not the be all and end all of a relationship in any way, you do not owe anybody your body or anything that you don’t feel 100% comfortable to do. Don’t have sex because it’s easier than saying no, this does not display the respect from either of you that you deserve. Nobody that really respects you will beg you to have sex when you’ve said no or if you’re clearly not interested. You deserve to be respected and to have your needs/wants met too. If you don’t want to have sex don’t, it is okay. You’re not a loser and there is no shame in not wanting to share your body with somebody else.
As a resident of the UK I am so incredibly lucky to get my contraception and any other sexual health related treatment for me, and that is one of the biggest reasons I advice people to go and make use of this amazing service. The funding is there for it and if it is not being used enough then the funding will be taken away, so please take advantage of what we have and make sure you book regular check ups and protect yourself from any unwanted situations which can be easily avoided. I will link below anything which I feel like could provide you help regarding your sexual health and I hope this post was helpful in some way.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope to see you around these parts again soon!