Goodbye Men's Sexual Health

It is with great sadness and regret that today we announce the forthcoming closure of the Men’s Sexual Health service.  As of February 28th 2014, Men's Sexual Health will cease to operate due to a lack of available funding.

We hope that we have contributed to a better quality of life for many of our service users; improved sexual health across the Swindon and Wiltshire area and advocated on behalf of those who needed us.

As there will be no service replacing us, we would suggest that if you need advice on sexual health matters in the future you should visit the Swindon Sexual Health Clinic: http://www.swindon.nhs.uk/your-life/Sexual_health/Clinic.aspx or call them on 01793 604038.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout our long history and especially since Wessex Community Action took over the management of the project from the NHS in 1996.

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And in at number 1.....

Over the course of the next 5 weeks, we are going to be looking at the top 5 diagnosed Sexually Transmitted Infections of 2012 (2013 stats have yet to be published) and look at how these may have increased or decreased in the past year and a retrospective look at how its changed in the last 10 years. We will also be looking in depth at each one and how to treat and prevent each one.
In at number 1, we have Chlamydia, this was diagnosed 206,912 times in 2012, but due to the changes in the way chlamydia is recorded we can't do a comparison of the previous years, however  64% of people diagnosed with chlamydia were under 25 years old.

Chlamydia symptoms
Most people who have chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms, and so don't know they have it. Research suggests that 50% of men and 70-80% of women don't get symptoms at all with a chlamydia infection. Symptoms of chlamydia could be pain when you urinate (pee), unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or rectum or, in women, bleeding between periods or after sex.

Getting tested for chlamydia
Testing for chlamydia is done with a urine test or a swab test. You don't always have to have a physical examination by a nurse or doctor. Anyone can get a free and confidential chlamydia test at a sexual health clinic, a GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic or a GP surgery.
People under 25 years old can also get tested by the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP). This is often in places such as pharmacies, contraception clinics or colleges. You can also buy chlamydia testing kits to do at home, however, the accuracy of these tests varies. If you use one of these tests, talk to your pharmacist or GP.

Treating chlamydia
Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. You may be given a single dose, or a longer course of antibiotics to take for a week. If chlamydia isn’t treated, the infection can sometimes spread to other parts of your body and lead to serious long-term health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility (not being able to have children).

The National Chlamydia Screening Programme
Chlamydia is most common in people under 25 years old, although people of any age can get it. If you are under 25, you can get a free, confidential chlamydia test under the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP). This offers tests in various places, including some pharmacies.

If you think you have put yourself at risk, get tested call 01793 604038 to make an appointment if you live in Swindon.

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In at number 2...

Over the course of the next 5 weeks, we are going to be looking at the top 5 diagnosed Sexually Transmitted Infections of 2012 (2013 stats have yet to be published) and look at how these may have increased or decreased in the past year and a retrospective look at how its changed in the last 10 years. We will also be looking in depth at each one and how to treat and prevent each one.
In at number 2, we have Genital Warts, this was diagnosed 73,893 times in 2012, that's a -3% decrease since 2011 but a  15% increase since 2003.

What are they?
Genital warts are small fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes that appear on or around the genital or anal area. Genital warts are very common. In England, they are the second most common type of sexually transmitted infection (STI).Genital warts are the result of a viral skin infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They are usually painless and do not pose a serious threat to health. However, they can appear unsightly and cause psychological distress.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is not a single virus, but a family of over 100 different strains of viruses. Most cases of infection with HPV cause no visible symptoms. Around 90% of all cases of genital warts are caused by two strains of the virus, type 6 and type 11. Other strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer.

How do they spread?
Genital warts can be spread during vaginal or anal sex, and by sharing sex toys. However, you do not need to have penetrative sex to pass the infection on because HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact.  It can take up to one year for warts to develop after infection with HPV. Therefore, if you are in a relationship and you get genital warts, it does not necessarily mean your partner has been having sex with other people. HPV is most likely to be transmitted to others when warts are present, although it is still possible to pass the virus on before the warts have developed and after they have disappeared. Condoms do not provide complete protection because it is possible for the skin around your genital area (not covered by the condom) to become infected.

Treating genital warts
If you think you have genital warts, see a health professional as they need to be treated. Wart creams available over-the-counter (OTC) will not work because they are designed to only treat warts on the hands. You can make an appointment at your local sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. You can go to a sexual health clinic whatever age you are. If you're under 16, the service is still confidential and the clinic won't tell your parents.  Several treatments are available, such as creams and cryotherapy (freezing the warts), and they have a good rate of success. However, many treatments can take up to three months before they are fully effective.  If you are diagnosed with genital warts, it is recommended you do not have sex, including anal and oral sex, until your genital warts have fully healed. This will help prevent you passing the infection on to others. It will also help speed your recovery.

Who is affected?
Genital warts are most common in sexually active teenagers and young adults. The highest rates of genital warts occur in males between 20 to 24 years of age and females between 16 and 19 years of age.

If you think you have put yourself at risk, get tested call 01793 604038 to make an appointment if you live in Swindon.

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In at number 3...

Over the course of the next 5 weeks, we are going to be looking at the top 5 diagnosed Sexually Transmitted Infections of 2012 (2013 stats have yet to be published) and look at how these may have increased or decreased in the past year and a retrospective look at how its changed in the last 10 years. We will also be looking in depth at each one and how to treat and prevent each one.


In at number 3, we have Herpes, this was diagnosed 32,021 times in 2012, that's a 2% increase since 2011 but a massive 89% increase since 2003.

WHAT IS IT?
Genital herpes is a common infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It causes painful blisters on the genitals and the surrounding areas.
As genital herpes can be passed to others through intimate sexual contact, it is often referred to as a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
HSV can affect any mucous membrane (moist lining), such as those found in the mouth (cold sores).
Genital herpes is a chronic (long-term) condition. The virus remains in your body and can become active again. The average rate of recurrence is four to five times in the first two years after being infected. However, over time, it becomes active less frequently and each outbreak becomes less severe.

There are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV), type 1 and type 2. Both types are highly contagious and can be passed easily from one person to another by direct contact. Genital herpes is usually transmitted by having sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with an infected person. Even if someone with genital herpes does not have any symptoms, it is possible for them to pass the condition on to a sexual partner.
At least 8 out of 10 people who carry the virus are unaware they have been infected because there are often few or no initial symptoms. However, certain triggers can activate the virus, causing an outbreak of genital herpes.


Who is affected?
Genital herpes is a common condition, especially between people aged 20-24 years. In 2011, 30,338 people attended a sexual health clinic in the UK with an attack of genital herpes for the first time.

Symptoms of Herpes
Most people with the herpes simplex virus (HSV) do not experience any symptoms of genital herpes when first infected and, as a result, they do not know they have the condition. Symptoms may not appear until months or sometimes years after you are exposed to the virus. If you experience symptoms when first infected, they usually appear four to seven days after you have been exposed to the virus.

The symptoms are usually more severe first time around than in cases of recurrent infections.
Primary infection
The symptoms of genital herpes for the first time include:
- painful red blisters that burst to leave open sores around your genitals, rectum (back passage), thighs and buttocks
- blisters and ulcers on the cervix (lower part of the womb) in women
- vaginal discharge in women
- pain when you pass urine
- a high temperature (fever) of 38°C (100.4°F) or over
- a general feeling of being unwell, with aches and pains


These symptoms may last up to 20 days. However, the sores will eventually scab and heal without scarring.
Treating genital herpes
Although there is no cure for genital herpes, the symptoms can usually be controlled using antiviral medicines. However, it is important to prevent the spread of genital herpes by avoiding sex until symptoms have cleared up and continuing to use a condom afterwards.

If you think you have put yourself at risk, get tested call 01793 604038 to make an appointment if you live in Swindon.

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In at number 4...

Over the course of the next 5 weeks, we are going to be looking at the top 5 diagnosed Sexually Transmitted Infections of 2012 (2013 stats have yet to be published) and look at how these may have increased or decreased in the past year and a retrospective look at how its changed in the last 10 years. We will also be looking in depth at each one and how to treat and prevent each one.

In at number 4 this week, we have Gonorrhoea, this was diagnoses 25,525 times in 2012, that's a massive 21% increase since 2011, and a 9% increase since 2003. It is suggested the Gonorrhoea has increased due to it being partially drug resistant to certain antibiotics administrated.

What is it?
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It used to be known as "the clap". The bacteria are mainly found in discharge from the penis and vaginal fluid from infected men and women. Gonorrhoea is easily passed between people through: unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex sharing vibrators or other sex toys that haven't been washed or covered with a new condom each time they are used.
The bacteria can infect the cervix (entrance to the womb), the urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body), the rectum and, less commonly, the throat or eyes. The infection can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby.
Gonorrhoea is not spread by kissing, hugging, sharing baths or towels, swimming pools, toilet seats, or sharing cups, plates and cutlery, because the bacteria can't survive outside the human body for long.

Signs and symptoms

Typical symptoms of gonorrhoea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating and bleeding in between periods in women.
However, around 1 in 10 infected men and almost half of infected women don't experience any symptoms.
Getting tested
If you have any of the symptoms of gonorrhoea or you are worried you may have an STI, you should visit your local genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic for a sexual health test. Gonorrhoea can be easily diagnosed by testing a sample of discharge picked up using a swab. Testing a sample of urine can also be used to diagnose the condition in men.
It's important to get tested as soon as possible because gonorrhoea can lead to more serious long-term health problems if it's not treated, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, or infertility.

Treating gonorrhoea
Gonorrhoea is usually treated with a single antibiotic injection and a single antibiotic tablet. This treatment is very effective and most of your symptoms should improve within a few days.
It's usually recommended that you attend a follow-up appointment a week or two after treatment so another test can be carried out to see if you are clear of infection. You should avoid having sex until you have been given the all-clear.

Who is affected?

Anyone who is sexually active can catch gonorrhoea, especially people who change partners frequently or don't use a barrier method of contraception such as a condom when having sex.
Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK after chlamydia, with most cases affecting young men and women under the age of 25. Previous successful treatment for gonorrhoea doesn't make you immune from catching the infection again.

Preventing gonorrhoea
Gonorrhoea and other STIs can be successfully prevented by using appropriate contraception and taking other precautions, such as:
- using male condoms or female condoms every time you have vaginal sex, or male condoms during anal sex
- using a condom to cover the penis, or a latex or plastic square (dam) to cover the female genitals, if you have oral sex
- not sharing sex toys, or washing them and covering them with a new condom before anyone else uses them

If you think you have put yourself at risk, get tested call 01793 604038 to make an appointment if you live in Swindon.

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