Staying on Top of Your Sexual Health
We often only focus on our sexual health when something appears wrong or at distinct moments of change such as embarking on a new relationship. However it is important to know your symptoms and be aware of your sexual health at all times. Consultant Gynaecologist Mr Pisal shares what symptoms to look out for, the consequences of untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and when and how you should have check ups.
What symptoms should I look out for?
It is important to remember that many men and women will experience no symptoms from STIs. Particularly a common infection called Chlamydia can often be asymptomatic. This just highlights the importance of having safe sex and attending routine checks when you enter a new relationship or if you notice any changes or symptoms.
Key symptoms to look out for are:
- Any vaginal discharge that is not ‘normal’ for you, this can mean change in colour, amount, odour.
- Vaginal or vulval irritation or soreness
- Ulcers or blisters on the outside vulval area
- Genital warts
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
- Any unusual discharge, lumps, ulcers, warts on your partner’s genital area
- Bleeding after sex
- When infection spreads to the pelvis (PID: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), women can get severe lower abdominal pain and temperature
Where should I go to get checked?
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should get checked with your GP or any sexual health clinic. Most sexual health clinics offer urgent or walk in appointments. Please search online for your nearest sexual health clinic. It is also important to have a routine check for both partners when you start a new relationship.
How are the infections treated?
Infections are often treated by simple antibiotics. It is necessary to treat your partner as well as sexual contacts in the recent past. Sometimes, a test of cure is necessary to ensure that the infection has been satisfactorily treated.
What consequences can STIs have?
If not diagnosed and treated promptly, infections can spread to the fallopian tubes and the pelvis. This can lead to what is known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This is often characterised by severe pelvic pain and raised temperature. Admission to hospital and intravenous antibiotics are sometimes needed.
PID can lead to blocked fallopian tubes and infertility. If the fallopian tubes are partially blocked or affected, there is also a risk of tubal ectopic pregnancy. PID can also lead to scar tissue and chronic pelvic pain which can be difficult to treat.
If you have any concerns about your sexual health, please contact your GP or gynaecologist, or give us a call on 0207 10 11 700. At London Gynaecology we offer a sexual health check which provides a fully comprehensive review of your sexual health.