STI’s or Sexually Transmitted Infections are a reality for anybody who is sexually active, especially because for some STI’s there may be few or no symptoms. If you think you have an STI, visit a GUM Clinic or Sexual Health Clinic straight away, to prevent it from worsening and reducing the risk of passing it on to sexual partners. It is also important to inform sexual partners about the STI so that they can get early treatment too. If you want more information about specific STI’s visit www.gmhp.demon.co.uk/health/std/index.html.
HIV and AIDS
Testicular cancer is on the increase especially amongst men between the ages of 20 and 44,
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in UK men, every year 32,000 are diagnosed with the disease and 10,000 men die (that’s one man every hour). The prostate is the size of a walnut and sits underneath the bladder, it surrounds the urethra and is crucial in sexual function (bet you all knew that though! Ha!) as it secretes a major component of semen. Early prostate cancer may not have any symptoms, and symptoms may also be caused by other non-cancerous problems so it is important to consult your GP to find out what is wrong, symptoms include urinating more often, especially at night, difficult starting to urinate or taking a long time to finish and feeling that the bladder hasn’t emptied properly.
Hepatitis can cause permanent liver damage and even kill, some forms stay with you for
Oral Sex (lesbian)
Some STI’s can be passed on through oral sex between women, however there is a relatively low risk of HIV transmission but the risk is increased if cuts or sores are present on the mouth/genitals, or the receiver is menstruating. Dental dams can be used to lower risks.
Sharing toys can transfer STI’s if they have vaginal fluid, blood or faeces on them. A good idea is to put a condom on the toy or to use the toy on one person only. Lubricant can make toys easier to use and prevent damage (make sure it is water-based if used with condoms). ere are very few sexual
Thrush is an overgrowth of yeast causing vaginal itching and soreness, often with a white discharge. It is possibly passed on through sex between women, though oral sex is considered to be low risk. Thrush can be treated with tablets (called pessaries) inserted into the vagina and a cream.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) (lesbian)
Bacterial vaginosis is very common and occurs when the bacteria that normally exist in the vagina rapidly multiply, causing a smelly discharge. It may be linked to the use of scented bath oils and soaps. Treatment is with antibiotics and a cream.
All women (lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual) between the ages of 20 and 64 need to have cervical smear tests every 3-5 years. This applies even if you have never had sex with a man, or not for a long time, as sex between women can transmit HPV, which is associated with cervical cancer. Early detection of cervical cancer through smear testing can greatly improve the likelihood of it being cured.
Checking your breasts (and your partner’s) regularly for changes or lumps is a good idea. Breast cancer is most common among older women, women who have never had any children and where there is a family history of breast cancer. If you discover a lump, go to your doctor immediately, but remember that 90% of lumps are not cancerous.