A new poll has revealed that a staggering one in ten of us in the UK come back from holiday with an STI.
Private GP and medical director at Your Sexual Health, Dr Rashid Bani, said it was “hugely concerning to see such an enormous percentage of the public not taking sexual health seriously”.
Speaking to the i newspaper, he says he partly blames stag and hen parties getting up to no good: “This could indicate that an STD boom is on the horizon as stag and hen season is underway.
“More people having unprotected sex over the season will likely lead to a rise in the number of people requiring STI testing on their return home.”
According to the results of the poll, a third of Brits (34 per cent) tested too early and risked a false negative for chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
The poll, by Censuswide on behalf of the private sexual health clinic network, Your Sexual Health, also found that a third of Brits (34%) tested too early when returning back from holiday, which risks a false negative for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
You should wait around 14 days before testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, and four weeks for HIV and syphilis.
While both men and women can be asymptomatic, it’s far more common for women. And even if symptoms do occur, they can pass quickly even though the infection hasn’t cleared. In order to clear a bacterial infection, antibiotics are needed.
Women’s symptoms are easy to confuse with something else
If women with STIs do have symptoms, then these can be very similar to things that women experience for a number of other reasons. Discharge is a common symptom of sexually transmitted infections, but a lot of women normally have discharge anyway due to the vagina being self-cleaning, share the experts at UK Meds.
If this discharge seems unusual (like a change in smell, colour or consistency) then this could be confused with thrush or bacterial vaginosis. Meanwhile, men don’t tend to get discharge from the penis for any other reason, and will be more likely to think it strange and get it checked out.
Can you get an STI without having sex?
Everyone has heard the old-fashioned notion that abstinence is the best form of contraception, but does not having sex protect you fully?
Well, if you’re wondering whether or not you can get an STI without having penetrative vaginal sex then the answer is… yes. Sexually transmitted infections can be passed in a number of ways, including during anal or oral sex. People often don’t protect themselves properly during oral sex due to the belief that it’s safer.
In actual fact, a wide range of STIs can be passed during oral sex, including chlamydia and gonorrhoea, while anal sex is a high-risk activity for passing HIV.
You can also pass on sexually transmitted infections through sharing sex toys, without having any actual sexual contact with another person at all. That’s why you should always use condoms if you’re sharing sex toys and be sure to clean them properly after use.
Can you catch any STIs from kissing?
There are only a couple of STIs that you actually can get through kissing. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes, and this can be spread easily through kissing, especially when sores are open and visible.
It’s easier to catch HSV-1 (the virus that causes cold sores) through kissing than it is to catch HSV-2 (the virus that causes genital herpes). However, mouth-to-mouth transmission is still possible, and if you do contract the virus then you will live with it forever, as the body can’t expel the virus completely.
Even though herpes can’t be cured, there are antiviral medications available to treat symptoms and minimise the number of flare-ups and outbreaks you experience.
Syphilis is another sexually transmitted infection that can rarely be passed on through kissing. The infection is more commonly transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex, but one of the symptoms of syphilis is sores in the mouth, and these can allow the bacteria to pass on to someone else through kissing (especially deep, open-mouthed kissing with tongue).
Syphilis is a bacterial infection, so it is curable with a short course of antibiotics. It’s important to catch (and treat) syphilis as early as possible to avoid any long-term complications and to prevent the spread of the disease.