Things are still a bit strange all over the world because of the pandemic, with different rules and regulations everywhere. For a couple of months, the dating world and casual sexual encounters were pretty much on hold, while everyone was locked down. Now, as we begin to return to some sort of normality, people are coming out of their homes and beginning to get back onto the dating apps!
We’ve already told you how to prepare for having sex post-COVID, but we wanted to give you a little reminder on how best to take care of your sexual health.
Imagine waiting all through quarantine for a sexual encounter, and then coming out of it with an STD! For the record, there’s absolutely no shame in contracting an STD – most are extremely treatable and at most are very inconvenient. The stigma around them has fallen away rapidly – although we’re not quite there yet. However, it’s always best not to get one in the first place if you can avoid it.
What Are STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. The causes of STDs are bacteria, parasites, and viruses. There are more than 20 types of STDs, including Chlamydia, Genital herpes, and Gonorrhea. Even the names sound super grim. While some STDs will only give you mild symptoms (but ones that still need to be treated!), such as a rash, others have hidden symptoms. For example, with Chlamydia, symptoms can be very mild – or not there at all! It can stay hidden, but can lead to a fallopian tube infection without any symptoms. This can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues, which can lead to infertility.
Doesn’t sound great, does it?
How Can I Avoid Getting An STD?
Here’s your sexual health 101. Take a look at these tips below to ensure you keep yourself safe out there!
#1 Always Wear a Condom
The best way to avoid STDs is to not have sex at all – but where’s the fun in that? As a first line of defense, you should use condoms.Did you know, most people say they used a condom the first time they ever had sex, but when asked about the last 4 weeks, less than a quarter said they used a condom every time? Although condoms aren’t 100% reliable againsts STDs and pregnancy (as mentioned, only abstinence is!), they are still pretty darn good. Use one EVERY time, especially with new partners. If your partner refuses to wear one, that’s their problem, not yours. Don’t let them get away with it.
#2 Wash Before and Afterwards
While this won’t exactly stop STDs, washing before and after intercourse could be beneficial. It’s also a nice thing to do for your partner. Doing this (as well as peeing after sex) can really help with urinary tract infections (UTIs), too!
#3 Have A Back-Up Plan
Not everything always works out. If you end up with a UTI, thrush (not sexually transmitted, but can still be exacerbated by sex) or even pregnancy, what’s your plan? Do you know where you can get the morning after pill from, or where your nearest sexual health clinic is? Figure this all out as a ‘what if’, so if these events ever happen you can be prepared.
#4 Get Tested!
There’s no shame in going to your local clinic to be tested. In fact, you should go as routine, especially if you’re engaging sexually with different partners. Make it part of your self-care every couple of months. There is no judgement (or shouldn’t be) and treatment (in the UK) is free. Even if you don’t have any infections, the peace of mind you gain is absolutely priceless.
#4 Don’t forget…It’s Not Just Intercourse!
You can get contract an STD even if you’re not engaging in full sex. If you’re having oral, anal or any type of skin-to-skin contact, don’t forget that you are still at risk.