Sexual health- the secret side of health that no one likes to talk about.
I’d like to begin by saying that I’m not a doctor. I was good at science in school but that’s as far as it goes. What I do know though is that sexual health is something that is viewed negatively and can be embarrassing to talk about. When I did my work experience, I went to help the Volunteer Network. My parents were kind of mad because they’d wanted me to get a WORK experience, not a volunteer one. I ignored them. I had to give up my place at ABC Wedding dresses because someone ‘more suitable’ was being considered and D R Jones, the interior decorators, didn’t reply back to my letter. I was pretty disappointed really. What I got however, was not what I’d expected. I remember that one of the days I was asked to arrange a display in their Yeovil Shop in the Quedam. This display was a sex/ sexual health information stand. I was so embarrassed that I’m 99% sure my face was lit up like bonfire night. My colleges spoke about sex and asked me about sex, and I had no idea what to respond. I was still a virgin, obviously. They were expecting someone with stories and secrets and instead they had a very shy, very nervous girl who’d got rejected a lot. They gave me a C Card and I shoved it to the bottom of my bag, hoping to never see it again. Hoping that my parents would never find out what had transpired.
So, despite this and despite the fact I did have a bit of knowledge about safe sex, sexual health and where to go for advice, testing, contraception ect. I was still pretty oblivious when it actually came down to it. I guess what I’m trying to say it that when you’re busy having fun, you don’t really stop and think about whether you’re all healthy and fully functioning, which is important. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one. It’s not until long after the deeds have be done that you stop and think ‘Hang on. What if something’s not quite right?’ This thought usually happens after a trip to the doctors, after they ask you if you’re sexually active; or if you’re walking past a Chlamydia test stand in your college’s library. It’s important that you pick one up and do it. You see the posters displaying the figures for Chlamydia but you don’t ever think it would happen to you. The thing is, is that it’s so common that it really could happen to you. Issue is that you don’t even know what Chlamydia is. I knew it was some kind of STI and that it rarely ever had any symptoms, but I didn’t know why it was so bad. Not until I looked it up, of course. If you ever plan to have children, Chlamydia would stomp that out. It could also cause you a number of difficulties with your health in future life. At the bottom of this page I’ve linked you to the NHS web page so you can find out more.
Getting tested isn’t too difficult. You fill in your details on your form, you either pee into the container provided or take a swab then, depending on what your instructions say, you either send it in the post or take it to your local GP. If it’s a black packet, it’s postal. If it’s blue or pink, then you have to hand it in. Don’t as a GP because they don’t really seem to know what’s inside the tests. I, myself, had to educate my local GP on what they were handing out and trying to convince young people to do. I guess since they are older, they don’t get this service so they don’t really know what they’re selling. You can pick up your free test at your GP, hospital, college, supermarket- lots of places are giving them out. This is how important it is. Chlamydia is most common between 15-24 year old so they recommend you take a test after every person you’ve been with and/ or once a year. This was something I didn’t really know about but I do now and I think it’s important to share it with you.
You don’t need a lecture on safe sex, we’ve all watched enough of Mean Girls to know about the evils of unprotected sex, but what isn’t really taught is about the effects STD’s can have, how easy they can be to catch and how you can get rid of them. When Chlamydia is caught early on, one pill clears it up. Don’t be that person who goes around making yourself and everyone you have sex with ill. Having fun is much easier when you don’t have to think about the consequences because you know you’ve been responsible.
I think the issue is the stigma that’s attached. I know people that have been too embarrassed to take a test, or even think of getting tested, just in case. This isn’t something you need to be afraid to do. You wouldn’t be embarrassed to go to the hospital with a broken arm. You wouldn’t be embarrassed to go to the dentist with a rotten tooth. You wouldn’t be embarrassed to go to the GP for an allergy. So why should you be embarrassed over this kind of illness? Because it’s contracted through sex? Every mature person has sex, surely that can’t be the issue? If you’re mature enough to get intimate with another person, you’re mature enough to look after your health. Their shouldn’t be a stigma to looking after yourself, regardless of what it is and how it happened. Remember that. You don’t have to feel ashamed and it’s so easy that you don’t have to feel nervous about it.
Thanks for reading guys, stay safe x
- Pictures from: http://www.somersetcsh.co.uk/page/chlamydia/5/ [Accessed 11/09/15]
- And http://www.somersetcsh.co.uk/page/c-card/48/ [Accessed 11/09/15]
- And https://sexatmichigan.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/get-sum-facts-chlamydia/comment-page-1/#comment-16 [Accessed 11/09/15]
All great places to go for further information. Don’t be scared, be fearless.