Testing Matters

Sex is a natural part of life, alongside other pleasurable functions of the body such as playing sport and eating, but is something that is not talked about enough in society which only exacerbates the stigma attached to many issues of sex. Yet, it remains a very popular topic in gossip and bar talk, but are we talking about the real issues? One such important one is sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Many are aware of the names of gonorrhoea and chlamydia but do you know how they can occur and what it can do to you? STIs are very common in the UK and especially in students, with hopefully everyone at University knowing about the importance of contraception so I will not lecture on about that, yet only 75% of sexually active young people in Grampian used condoms. But there are still many either ignoring the risk, being ignorant to them, or not using a condom due to being drunk or 'caught up in the moment'.

So what do you do when this happens? The problem is that most STIs will go without symptoms. "But I'm fine!" I hear you protest. I'm happy for you, but 50% of men and 75% of women with chlamydia also feel fine and the huge problem with this is to affect fertility silently. This may not be an issue currently but now is the time to give some thought for the future. So what are the symptoms?

• Pain on urination
• Itchiness
• Red and sore to the touch or persistently
• Discharge
• Lower abdominal pain
• Bleeding during or after sex or between periods
• Testicular tenderness
• Formation of small painful blisters

These are for men and women, with some specific ones of course, and the bacteria or virus that is passed on through genitalia contact can happen in vaginal, anal or oral sex. Dang. If there wasn't a condom used then it's guilty until proven innocent, I'm afraid. To be tested is easy and many people don't realise this, it is also quick and free so don't wait for symptoms to develop:

For women AND men it involves:
Step1: Attend a local sexual health clinic
Step 2: Blood being taken and urinating into a tub in your own privacy. 
Step 3: Wait for results to be sent in the form you have requested to be contacted in.

If you have symptoms a swab will be taken but this will be done by a professional that has done it many times and only wants to help you, there is no judgement applied. So men, grow some balls and women, don't be a big girl about it-just get tested too to 'be on the safe side'. Treatment is available for all ailments and it means you won't pass it on to others.

Your own health should be important to you, and what part of you do you want to keep in order more than your genitals? The 'Show me your genitals' video comes to mind. But then aren't a lot of issues about sex trivialised? From rape jokes to 'just pulling out will be ok' and thinking having sex in water or standing up will mean pregnancy is not possible. Yes the pill will help prevent pregnancy but your genital health matters too. "Oh it won't happen to me" was said by many in the past that got a brain aneurysm or HIV too, now is time to take action and confront fears or embarrassment and visit the sexual health clinics nearby, of which there are many and free, with drop-in times available. As one student puts it- "some places you can get a home testing kit for free too so you all literally have no excuses. Don't be embarrassed go and get tested - it's great because you get free condoms too!"