This week (24–30 September 2018) is Sexual Health Week, with the local NHS telling us to ask for advice if we have questions or concerns.
In 2017, there were more than 400,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England. During the same time, one in 10 sexually active 16-24 year olds also admitted that they never used a condom.
Colette Page, practice nurse lead at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport & Formby CCG, said: “It’s so important that we practice safer sex – not using protection can lead to STIs as well as pregnancy.
“It’s also good to remember that some infections never show any signs and can go completely undetected unless tested for.
“This is why we advise you are screened regularly – before you have unprotected sex in a new relationship or after having sex with a new partner without using a condom.
“Most STIs can be treated easily, so don’t be scared of having a test and getting a positive result. However, if you leave an STI untreated it could go on to cause infertility and other complications.”
Another focus of this year’s awareness week is to highlight the issue of consent – non-consensual sex is a criminal offence and is punishable by law.
Overall, good communication throughout, between sexual partners is key to making sure consent has been given and neither partner has changed their mind.
Colette Page added: “If someone has forced or persuaded you into a sexual situation you are uncomfortable with, there is help available.
“You are not alone, there is help and support for you and you should never feel like it is your fault.”
The Sefton Sexual Health Service is free and confidential for everyone, offering walk-in or appointment clinics and designated under 25 only sessions.
Services provided include all contraceptive methods, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatments including HIV, free condoms and pregnancy tests.
For more information go to www.seftonsexualhealth.co.uk or call 01695 656 550.
You can call the national sexual health helpline free on 0300 123 7123 where your call will be treated with sensitivity and in strict confidence.
You can find out more about sexual health, on the NHS website – www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health