December 2012

Staying safe this Christmas time

With only a few days left until Christmas Day, Men's Sexual Health wanted to remind you not to forget one important stocking filler during this festive season!

We don't want you to start 2013 with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) or an unintended pregnancy so make sure that you stock up with plenty of condoms if you intend to make those cold winter nights that little bit warmer!

Calls and appointments to the sexual health clinics tend to be in their highest in January and more teenagers become pregnant during the months of December and January than any other months of the year.

As we enter the party season, most of us tend to drink a little too much and rational thought goes out of the window so please remember the following before leaving the house:

- Don't expect the other person to have brought condoms, ensure you carry your own, even at times maybe when you think sex might not be on the cards, it’s better to have it and not use it, than need it and not have it!

- If this might be your first time, then make sure you plan ahead, find the right size before the special time occurs; you don't want to ruin the moment when you discover that the condom you are carrying doesn't fit and you certainly don't want to continue without it if it doesn't

- Never assume by the way someone looks or acts that they have no STI's; don’t assume that someone who looks/acts promiscuously doesn’t practice safe sex and equally don’t assume that someone you perceive as innocent is free from infections

- Don't take someone's word that they have no STI's or are on the pill, as they themselves may not even realise they have one; remember many STI's have no symptoms, or symptoms that go away making people think they are cured when in fact they aren’t. Even if someone says they were tested a month ago, some STI's like HIV can take up to 3 months to appear in a test, so respect yourself and respect them and use a condom.

- Ensure the condoms that you are carrying are in date and have the British kite mark on them and the pack still has the feel of air trapped inside, with no signs of any tears or marks on it.

- Ensure you have plenty of lube with you if the type of sex you are having requires it. Make sure it is water based as anything oil based could cause the condom to weaken and split.

- Try to know beforehand where to go to get emergency contraception. If the condom breaks or splits or you do end up having unprotected sex then you need to head to your nearest GP, GUM clinic, sexual health clinic, pharmacy, NHS walk in centre; all of these should be able to help you and if one is closed, don't give up - find the next one. If you don't know where these places are, look on the internet.

Remember if you live in Swindon you can get free condoms, lube and sex health leaflets from our website, we also offer free chlamydia tests by post if you are under 25 years old.

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, or need some advice or support please get in touch.

Finally all the Men's Sexual health team wish you a lovely Christmas, have fun and stay safe and see you in 2013