sexual health and you

Sexual health: the myths, debunked

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When it comes to matters of the bedroom, the right health advice can make sex feel fun, positive, and safe for all involved.

There’s a lot of information out there about what constitutes safe and happy sex – it can all get kind of confusing. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to debunk some of the most common sexual health myths.

Myth: I can’t have an STI, I have no symptoms

Not true. A lot of STIs, like chlamydia, show no symptoms. That’s why if you’re sexually active, it’s so important to get tested regularly at a sexual health clinic. Left untreated, STIs can have serious consequences. Luckily, most infections are easily treated.

Speak to a doctor if you’re concerned about any of the following:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Unusual bleeding from the vagina, particularly if this happens after sex and/or between your periods
  • Painful urination
  • Growths, sores or blisters around the genitals or anus
  • Itching around the genitals 

Myth: Every method of contraception can protect against STIs

No, it can’t. Condoms are the only contraception that can help protect against STIs and unplanned pregnancy. Ideally, you should use condoms with another type of contraception for extra protection against pregnancy.

If you'd like to explore your contraception options, speak to a doctor. They can advise on the best option for you. 

Myth: You can’t get an STI if you don’t have penetrative sex

Incorrect. STIs spread from skin-to-skin contact and in bodily fluids. So, you can catch STIs from any kind of sex, including oral and intimate skin contact.

The best way to minimise your risk of getting an STI is by using protection, like a condom. Make sure you use a new condom every time you have sex. 

Myth: It’s normal to feel vaginal discomfort when having sex 

Not true, but it does happen. There are a few reasons you might experience vaginal pain during sex.

Vaginismus is a condition that causes involuntary tightening of muscles in or around the vagina in response to a fear of vaginal penetration. It can be painful as well as distressing, but it is very much treatable, so if you're worried about vaginismus, do speak to a GP.

Menopause can also cause discomfort during sex, due to falling oestrogen levels causing vaginal dryness, itching and discomfort. A GP can talk to you about treatment options to help alleviate your symptoms and make sex more enjoyable.

If you find sex extremely painful, stop any sexual activity until you've spoken to your doctor.  

It’s embarrassing for a man to have sexual problems

It doesn’t have to be. Male sexual health problems can be physical or psychological, and most men experience some kind of sexual health issue at one point in their lives. In fact, it’s estimated 1 in every 10 men has a problem related to sex, such as premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction. *

It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. A GP can help you with the right treatment 

What should I do if I have a sexual health concern?

For your sexual health concerns, you can always book an appointment with one of our GPs.

We can help with any of the following:

  • contraception and family planning
  • certain STI treatments
  • thrush
  • uncomplicated urinary tract infections

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