Gential Warts

Good morning everyone! hope you’re all having a good start to the weekend. It’s bank holiday on Monday!!! I hope non of you are having to work. Considering it’s a three day weekend this week, which means, more time to partaaaaaaay and have all kinds of fun. However, we don’t want any bad reminders from your wild (or not so wild) weekend. And so here is where STI Saturday comes in to save the day! The topic this week is Genital Warts. I know, warts on your private bits doesn’t sound great, does it? fear not, you’re going to find out all about it. Such as, what causes it, symptoms, how they’re diagnosed, the treatment options and how you can prevent getting warts.

Ok so, genital warts is caused by a virus, called the Human Papillomavirus or HPV for short. There are over 100 different types of HPV, but 90% of genital warts are caused by type 6 and 11. It is passed on through skin to skin contact, through vaginal or anal sex and sharing sex toys. So yep, wearing a condoms doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get genital warts. Soz. It also may take months or even years for warts to develop following a HPV infection, so if you’re in a relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean either of you has had sex with someone else.

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That’s the good news over. The bad news is that genital warts, although are harmless, can cause a lot of anxiety for the unfortunate ones who have to suffer with this. If you want to know what genital warts look like, then click the link here.  Apart from the obvious signs of having a wart on your genitals, they could also become itchy and irritated. If you have any unidentifiable skin bumps and you don’t know how they got there. Like, they’re definitely not an ingrowing hair or a spot, then pop down to your local sexual health clinic and a nurse should be able to diagnose it and treat it for you. Please note it will mean a nurse will have to take a look down there. But they’ve seen it all before. Guaranteed.

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It is important to get a diagnosis from a professional before you try any treatments, just to make sure you’re using the right stuff. Treatment will be free from your local clinic, you can find one here. The type of treatment depends greatly on the type and location of the warts, however, there are creams and lotions that you apply directly to the wart, or there’s removal by freezing, heating or generally just removing them. More on different treatment methods from the NHS Choices website. Do not have sex with other people if you have warts.

Did you know that although condoms aren’t guaranteed to stop you from getting HPV and genital warts, consistent use of condoms can reduce your risk by 30-60%! so there’s still a reason to use them. To find out how to make condoms feel better, we’ve done a blog post alllll about condoms below this one, and you can also read Cosmo’s article. ALSO DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS WARTS ON THEIR PENIS/VAGINA/BUTTHOLE. Thanks.

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I hope you’ve gained more of an understanding about genital warts and how they’re spread and what causes them in the first place etc. etc. BUT most importantly, how to prevent them! and if you still don’t. Then read this again goddamnit.

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Genital Herpes

Hello, hello! we’re back again. Third week in a row now! how time flies…
So STI Saturday this week will be looking closely at Genital Herpes. Below you’re gonna find out what Herpes is,  how it’s diagnosed, what treatment is available, and the signs and symptoms of this STI.

So, what are we waiting for? Lets begin…

Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). There are two different types of virus HSV-1 or HSV-2. Both can cause Herpes on the genitals, the face (often called cold sores) and on the hand or finger (called herptic whitlow). Once you’ve caught Herpes, it stays with you for life.

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Herpes is a virus that doesn’t always give you symptoms when first infected, it can lay dormant in your body for months or even years until you start having symptoms of the infection, this can be difficult for people in relationships, but if you explain the nature of herpes then it shouldn’t need to worry your partner too much, and you can carry on having sex (unless you have symptoms!). If it does give you symptoms after first infected, it can take up 7 days after exposure to the virus.

The first time you have an outbreak of Herpes, it is usually always the worst and most painful. Symptoms include: feeling unwell and run-down and achy with flu-like symptoms, small blisters that burst and leave open sores, these are found around the genital, anus, thighs and bum, these sores can often make urinating very painful (but I’ll let you know how to manage this). Women can also get the sores on her cervix and a change in discharge.

Some people have recurring outbreaks of herpes frequently, some people don’t have another outbreak at all. Once you have the Herpes Simplex Virus in your body, it never goes away, it just lies dormant. Stress and having a weakened immune system can trigger an outbreak again. It is usually less painful than the first outbreak as your body has started producing the right antibodies to fight the virus. Some people can determine when they’re about how have another episode,  the symptoms of this usually include; a tingling, burning or itching sensation around the genitals, anus, legs or bum or cervix before any blisters start to appear, then when blisters pop up,  they can burst causing open sores which can be painful and make urinating painful.

You can catch Genital Herpes if someone gives you oral sex when they have a cold sore. You can also pass it on when having sex with someone blisters or sores on your genitals, but also if they have no symptoms at all, and also through sex toys. Condoms do not always protect against the Herpes Virus as exposed skin is always at risk.

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A formal diagnosis is only able to be made when you have open blisters, so the sexual health nurse can take a swab from the fluid. The examination will involve you undressing from the waist down, enough so that the nurse can examine and swab the area, this will be uncomfortable but it needs to be done! and then you’ll have to wait for the results. If they are certain it is Herpes, you may be given antiviral tablet to take which helps stops the virus from multiplying and getting worse. If it is a recurring infection, and symptoms are mild, the healthcare provider may ask you to manage your symptoms at home.

How to manage Genital Herpes at home = Keep the area clean using salt water to help soothe and speed up the healing time of the blisters. You could either make a cup of salt water and apply this to the sores directly, or you can make a shallow bath with salt water, you don’t need to make either too salty. It is very important to drink plenty of water, this is to dilute your urine and make it less painful. You could also pee while you’re sat in the bath or stood in the shower to dilute the urine that way, or you could even pour water over your genitals as you wee on the toilet. Or whatever you feel most comfortable with. Applying Vaseline to the sores can protect the sores as you wee.

Pleeaassee remember, Herpes is basically just a minor skin infection and is no different to getting a cold sore on your mouth. Nearly 70% of people will catch either HSV-1 or HSV-2 at some point in their lives, even without knowing, so do not feel ashamed of embarrassed that you’ve got symptoms.

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Thanks for taking the time to read this blog! if you have any questions, comment below, send us an email (SexEd_@outlook.com) follow us on Twitter and Instagram for regular updates! xo

Condoms!

So… it’s time to talk about the most popular contraceptive method in the UK.

Condoms!

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You may already know that condoms come in a variety of sizes, colours, shapes, textures and even flavours, but the aim of this blog is to expel any myths you may have heard about condoms and show you how important they are!!

So, let’s start with what they are (for those of you who have been living on another planet.) Condoms are thin, stretchy latex things that go over the penis to protect the penis from infection and prevent unwanted pregnancies. There are also Femedoms for females (more about those in another blog.)

What if I’m allergic to latex? Do not fear! Latex free condoms are also available and can be found here!

What are they used for I hear you ask? Well, they are used to protect the penis from sexually transmitted infections, or prevent the penis passing any infections on to their sexual  partner. The condom only protects the part of the penis it is covering so there is still a chance you could catch genital warts, herpes or public lice. They are also used to protect women from becoming pregnant as the condom stops the semen from entering the vagina.

The condom is the only way of protecting yourself from STI’s and has an efficacy rate of 98% providing you use them correctly. You can see how to put a condom on correctly here.

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Believe it or not; there are a number of myths that surround condoms and we want to help clear them up for you!

  • Using two condoms (also known as double bagging) is not better than using one. Using two condoms can increase the chances of the condom breaking due to friction between the two condoms. If you are worried about getting pregnant, use a back up contraceptive method such as the pill.
  • You do not have to be 18 to buy condoms, you can get them in many places such as chemists and high street shops such as Boots and Superdrug. If you don’t have money spare to buy condoms your local sexual health service will provide them free of charge.
  • Over the years people have used a range of beauty products as lubricant such as vaseline, lipstick, sun cream, body lotion and sun cream. None of these things should be used with a condom as the oil in them can weaken the rubber and cause it to break. If you need extra lubricant a water based one is most suitable, or even saliva if you’re out of lube.
  • Condoms should also be used during oral sex, this can prevent transmission of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes to the throat. These infections can all be passed orally so to ensure you do not catch one, use a condom.giphy5
  • As I mentioned before, condoms come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore if your partner says “I’m to big for condoms” or “they don’t do them in my size” ignore him, he’s lying. You can always find suitable condoms no matter the shape or size of the penis.
  • Condoms do expire! Before you engage in any sexual activity always check the expiration date on the packet. Using out of date condoms can result in the condom tearing due to weakening of the latex.
  • Consistently using condoms provides significant protection from HIV.
  • It is a myth that condoms make sex less enjoyable- in fact it can enhance your sex life. It has been proven that men are likely to last longer when wearing a condom. If you do experience discomfort when wearing a condom there may be an issue with the size and you should try an alternative size. There are tips on how to enjoy sex whilst using a condom here.

So, remember condoms are important for protection against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and they have a high efficacy rate! Please use them.

We would like to thank our good friend Rebecca for her contribution towards this blog.

If you have any questions about condoms or any think we’ve missed any information please email us and let us know!

Thanks for reading!

Sex Ed x

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Gonorrhoea

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The Clap, The Drip, The Dose… are some common and uncommon slang terms for our next STI Saturday post; Gonorrhoea. This Saturday, you’re going to learn about what this weird sounding infection is, how common it is, what the symptoms are, how it’s treated and what can happen if you just leave the infection to do it’s thaang (spoiler alert: do not just leave it).

Gonorrhoea is caused by the bacterium called (which I may or may not have googled) Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. This bacteria is found in the discharge or fluid (or whatever gross name you can think of ) of a penis or vagina. This STI is spread through unprotected anal, oral and vaginal sex, as well as sharing sex toys. More on safer sex with your toys here.

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In 2015, there were 41,193 new cases of Gonorrhoea reported to Public Health England (PHE). Since 2012, the number of new cases has actually increased by 53%. The reason for the increase can be partly to blame of a increase in the number of tests being carried out, not just because more people are having unprotected sex (although this doesn’t help).  This infection was the most commonly diagnosed among the MSM (men who have sex with men) community with 25% of the infections occurring from condom-less anal sex. You need to wrap it up, people!

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1 in 10 infected men, and half of infected women won’t experience any obvious symptoms. How convenient. However, for the people who do get symptoms, for women, there is likely to be a change in discharge (to being thin/watery and green or yellow in colour), pain/burning when having a wee, lower abdominal pain, bleeding between periods, heavier periods and bleeding after sex.

For men, unusual discharge from the penis (being white, yellow or green in colour), pain/burning when having a wee, swelling of the foreskin, pain/tenderness in the testicles. If you experience any changes then head down to your nearest STI clinic for a screen.

Most commonly men have to give a urine sample, or a tiny swab of the fluid taken (usually performed by a nurse). For women, a self vaginal swab is also a method a lot of practices use to collect a sample, although sometimes a nurse will examine you (to look at your symptoms) and take a swab then.

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Listen, I know non of that sounds particularly inviting, but neither is having green stuff coming out of your penis/vagina. The sooner it’s sorted, the better!

We need to move on now to how this thing is treated. According to Brook, treatment involves antibiotics in the form or an injection and a single tablet.  Worryingly, there has been an increase in reports of ‘Super’ Gonorrhoea that is becoming resistant to the usual treatment (azithromycin), meaning ceftriaxone is the next option. However, doctors warn that Gonorrhoea could also eventually become resistant to ceftriaxone.

How can you reduce your risk of getting Gonorrhoea and ‘Super’ Gonorrhoea?… WEAR CONDOMS. It’s that simple.

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If left untreated Gonorrhoea can cause complications so to speak, and actually spread to other parts of your body. And that is something you do not want to happen. The risk of complications with Gonorrhoea also increases the more times you get it. So… Keep that in mind.

In women, it can spread to your reproductive organs and cause PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) which can occur in about 10-20% of cases left untreated. If you’re pregnant with Gonorrhoea, it can cause miscarriage, early labour, and/or your baby being born with conjunctivitis (inflammation in their eye).

If you guys leave Gonorrhoea untreated it can cause infection in your ball sack (testicles) and also prostate gland. Which may reduce fertility in a small number of people.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this weekly STI blog, for information on more exciting topics, just head to our homepage. Oh! and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram (sexed2017) and Twitter (@SexEd__) Or Email the team questions: SexEd_@outlook.com

Staying safe whilst online dating

Online dating has been around since before I can remember, ‘match.com’ was founded in 1995! So it is not something that we know nothing about. However, since they become apps that you can easily access on your phone their popularity has soared. ‘Match.com’ has 26.6 million people registered- that’s more than the population of Australia.

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What I want to make you aware of is do you really know who you’re talking to? (Probably not) It’s all well and good chatting to a hot guy/girl but do you really know that they are who they say they are?

I’m sure if any of you have watched Catfish (weirdest show ever) you will have seen how meeting someone online can be slightly awkward when you come to meet them and they are not in the slightest who they said they were. Some of those on the show chose to stay in contact and form some sort of strange relationship however, most of the people could not believe the lies and hated the person from the moment they met them!

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The list of risks involved with online dating is endless- from stalking and harassment to fraud and blackmail. These are just a couple of things to be wary of!

We have a couple of tips in order to stay safe online:

  • Choose your username wisely- don’t use one that makes you easily identifiable. Don’t include your surname or any other identifying information. Be careful when using usernames with sexual, provocative or controversial phrases, this can attract the wrong type of attention.
  • If you plan to meet someone you have been chatting to online meet them in a public place where there are plenty of people around. It would also be a good idea if a friend could go to the same place and keep an eye on things. For example if you go to a restaurant , let your friend know and they could go with their boyfriend/girlfriend/friend and eat but also keep an eye on you that you are OK.
  • Never go to their home alone, this is a recipe for disaster! If they are not who they say they are and you end up in their home, this is not safe.
  • Keep your phone on you at all times, if there is an emergency this ensures you can contact someone who can help you.
  • Take advantage of social media- check your date out online, have a look at their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. This can help you confirm that you are in fact talking to who you think you are. It can help you find out if someone is lying about their identity.
  • If it sounds too good to be true- it probably is. People create all sorts of people online so if some of the things they are saying are very unlikely for example, they own a yacht in the Bahamas- ask questions!

Match.com provide a list of tips to stay safe whilst using their website, which is a good resource to look at if you are thinking of signing up with them. It can be found here.

We hope these staying safe online tips are useful to you! Be careful who you date and make sure you get to know them properly first- not just their name!

Dont forget you can now follow us on Twitter and Instagram or email the team if you have any queries.

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Fantastic News!

Here at SexEd we are extremely happy to hear the recent news of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) being made available to those at risk of HIV in Scotland!

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PrEP (not to be confused with PEP) is a drug taken by those who may be at risk of contracting HIV, for example those with a HIV positive partner. It is taken daily to stop HIV from spreading throughout the body. Trials of PrEP have been excellent in showing that PrEP significantly lowers the risk of becoming HIV positive without any major side effects. Currently in the UK PrEP is unavailable on the NHS but can be given by private prescription from selected sexual health clinics. There is also one specialist PrEP clinic in London at 56 Dean Street. However, sometimes those who need it have to pay for it if they can’t access it from there local sexual health service and it can be quite costly starting at £400 a month.

There are approximately 101,200 people living with HIV in the UK so we think it is an extremely sensible decision that Scotland has made, which has made us wonder why England hasn’t yet done the same? PrEP could be the beginning of getting rid of HIV in the UK- yet in 2016 the NHS decided to cut commissioning of PrEP from its budget, this was taken to court by NAT who historically got the ruling overturned. The NHS said they resisted the roll out of PrEP due to the cost, however it costs approximately £360,000 a lifetime to treat a person with HIV. In the long term- funding PrEP has been shown to be more cost-effective than treating someone who has HIV for a lifetime.

Now this has been released in Scotland we’re wondering what’s in stall for the UK in the next year? Let us know what you think email us, tweet us or follow us on instagram!

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Other news published on PrEP:

Take a look at the I want PrEP now! Campaign here

Have a look what The Guardian had to say here

See what the BBC had to say here

Chlamydia

SHAG (8)For our first STI Saturday, it’s only right that our initial topic is one that some people may, or may not be all too familiar with, it’s the most common STI among younger people. It’s the one… the only… Chlamydia! Below you will find out what it is, how common it is, what asymptomatic means, what happens if you test positive, common symptoms and how often you need to be screened.  Enjoy.

To start you might be thinking “what on earth is Chlamydia?”  Well, it’s simply a bacterial infection passed on through unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex… nice.

How common is it? well, during the National Chlamydia Screening Program it was found that 3 in every 100 young people aged 15 to 24 had Chlamydia. In 2015, 200,228 cases were reported to Public Health England!  Since 2014, the number of Chlamydia cases has actually dropped by 3%, but there is still a long way to go…

The scary thing about Chlamydia is that is doesn’t always give you symptoms to let you know something is wrong! This is called being asymptomaticgiphy

You could be sleeping with that cute guy/girl from your favorite social media app without knowing you or them has an infection, not so cute now, is it? But in all seriousness, when you do get yourself down to a clinic for a sexual health screen, and find out you have an infection, how guilty are you going to feel, knowing that you’ve given it to other people? OR how annoyed that you’ve knowingly put yourself at risk. If two people who have had sex didn’t wear condoms, then it is BOTH their fault an infection has been spread, no matter who had it first. Sorry, but it’s true.

So, you’ve been giphy2a bit silly and not worn condoms with any of your sexual partners, and now you’ve got that niggling feeling in the back of your mind, so you’re going to turn over a new leaf and be responsible and get tested, good for you! But, oh crap. You’ve only gone and tested positive! And so you might be thinking “What now?! How can I make this go away?!” Well you’re in luck, Chlamydia is actually pretty easy to treat.

Different healthcare providers may have slightly different treatments, but it will always be in tablet form and easy to take (not more than twice daily). It is very important to listen to the instructions the sexual health nurse gives you with regards to your treatment, because it will mean that you have to abstain from all types of sex. Abstain = do not have sex! and all the different types of sex are: vaginal sex (often referred to as regular sex for women), oral sex (anything involving your mouth) and anal sex (anything involving your butt). You might have to abstain for up to  7 days!

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It is also important your sexual partner(s) get tested and get treated too, if you have tested positive, your partner can receive treatment before any test results are back. A TOC (Test of Cure) is vital though…

A TOC is the only way to know if the treatment has worked or not, so once treatment is done, yep, you guessed it, you’re going to have to go on up to your local clinic for another round of screening. If you’ve followed the instructions around treatment, it is more than 95% effective. Panic over. At least once these results are back and clear,  you can go straight to having as much sex as you want. But please, ffs, wear a condom!

OK, so now, remember when I said that most people don’t have symptoms of Chlamydia? Well, some people do. And they can be quite uncomfortable. If you notice any of the following changes or any of these symptoms, stop having sex and go to your local clinic.

For women, increased vaginal discharge, pain when having sex, bleeding after sex, bleeding between periods, pain when having a wee, lower abdominal pain. Are all warning signs of Chlamydia.

In men, discharge coming from the tip of the penis, and pain when urinating. These symptoms are usually so mild, that men often don’t realise there’s an underlying issue.

I just need to add that if you receive anal sex, then it is most likely that Chlamydia will be asymptomatic, but if you get any feeling of discomfort, or any discharge, then go to your nearest STI clinic.

You might also have chlamydia in the throat if you give oral sex to a man, but again, this is usually asymptomatic. The nurse or healthcare assistant will ask what type of sex you are having in order to take the appropriate swabs. so pleaseee be honest.

PLEASE NOTE, that it takes 2 WEEKS for Chlamydia to become detectable within your body. If you’re panicking because you’ve read this and realised you have had sex without a condom a couple of days ago, there is nothing you can do until 2 weeks afterwards (unless your partner has tested positive like I said before). Try not to worry too much though. Just make sure you stay protected and get yourself screened no sooner than two weeks afterwards.

IF left untreated, it can spread to the womb, ovaries and Fallopian tubes and can cause women to have PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) which can make it difficult to get pregnant or make you infertile, suffer with chronic pelvic pain and can also increase your risk of an ectopic pregnancy. More on PID here.

In men, it can spread to the testicles, and the tubes that carry sperm from the testicle, causing inflammation, which when left untreated can also affect fertility.

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A final thought…

We all need to keep each other safe and wear protection, get screened for infections every year and after every new partner, we ALSO need to stop the stigma about going out of our way to get tested. Be responsible for your own health, people! go on, empower yourself, heck, empower your friends and make them get screened with you. STIs suck, and it’s much better knowing you don’t have one than hoping for the best. All STI clinics run under complete confidentiality – in other words, no one will know that you’ve done the right thing and got tested, so you really are running out of excuses!

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To find your nearest clinic, the FPA (Family Planning Association) has a great website where you can literally pop in your postcode and it magically creates a list of all your nearest clinics and what they offer, for STIs you need to make sure it includes GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) in their services.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I truly hope that is has been of some help to those of you reading. If you have any further questions, or think there is something missing, then do not hesitate to contact us. You can email the team at: SexEd_@outlook.com
Follow us on Twitter @SexEd__

We even have Instagram!

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