A safe space to talk about your sexual health
We're creating safe spaces to talk about our sexual health. Here are our top tips and pieces of advice.
Recently, Covid-19 has dominated the headlines and made us forget about our regular routines in favour of social distancing, increased hand-washing and a significant amount of anxiety. Even our attitudes towards sex seem to have changed, with this article in the Independent reporting that almost half of couples isolating together said they were having less sex since lockdown began.
Now, as we begin to regain some normality and people are returning to the office, school, travel and a more social existence, it’s more important than ever to talk about sexual health.
It’s also been reported by the BBC that the Covid-19 pandemic has made a “difficult situation even worse” for women trying to access contraception.
Whether you’re single, married, dating or none of the above, your sexual health matters. Vala is a safe space to talk about sexual health, and here we give you a few tips to staying safe, especially amid these Covid-19 times.
1 Plan ahead
Contraceptives can be tricky to get hold of now that there are stricter rules in place for visiting shops. For example, if you pop to the pharmacy to grab a pack of condoms and realise you’ve forgotten your face covering, you might not be allowed inside. Similarly, if you’d usually get your contraceptives online or from your GP’s surgery, you could face delays due to Covid-19 backlogs.
When it comes to your sexual health, it’s very important to plan ahead. Make sure you order your contraceptives well in advance to account for any delays. And stay stocked up on condoms - just in case you need them.
2 Watch out for the signs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — are generally acquired by sexual contact. The organisms (bacteria, viruses or parasites) that cause sexually transmitted diseases may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids.
STDs don’t always cause symptoms, and can sometimes go unnoticed until complications occur or a partner is diagnosed. It’s also possible to contract sexually transmitted diseases from people who seem perfectly healthy and may not even know they have an infection.
A lot of STDs do have signs and symptoms, which may include:
- Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
- Painful or burning urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Unusual or odd-smelling vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
- Lower abdominal pain
- Rash over the hands or feet
If you have any of these symptoms, book an appointment with one of our doctors immediately. We can let you know what the condition might be, and which test to order.
3 Don’t put off getting tested
You may have concerns about visiting your GP or local sexual health clinic because of Coronavirus. However, if you think you may have contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or need advice about family planning and general sexual health, don’t put off seeking help.
The great news is that these days you can obtain a home testing kit to cover a range of sexual health concerns. At Vala, our Home testing kits are provided by LetsGetChecked and your test will be shipped by next day delivery. The test is anonymised and assigned a unique barcode that is linked to you. Once your sample has been processed, a doctor from LetsGetChecked will review your results. So you can gain peace of mind without even leaving your home!
If you’re simply looking for advice or support with your sexual health, you can book an online appointment with a member of our team. You’ve no need to feel embarrassed - rest assured your assigned Physician will discuss your concerns with discretion and care.
4 Keep your distance
To protect yourself and others when you leave your home, the government advises that you:
- wash hands - keep washing your hands regularly
- cover face - wear a face covering over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces
- make space - stay at least a metre away from people not in your household
Remember though that if you invite a sexual partner into your home, you’re at risk of contracting Covid-19 if they bring it into your environment.
It’s particularly important to try and minimise sexual contact with multiple partners to reduce your risk of exposure to Covid-19. Always use a contraceptive to protect your sexual health - do bear in mind that contraceptives cannot protect you from Coronavirus.
5 Talk about sexual health
You may feel embarrassed discussing your sexual health, especially with your family and friends. But it’s very important that you consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or need advice.
Sometimes it can be easier to talk to a doctor or sexual health advisor than to someone you know! At Vala we provide a safe space to talk about sexual health and for you to ask questions in an open, honest environment. No question is a bad question and you have the opportunity to speak to one of our UK GPs on video chat, or on the phone if you prefer. We also offer follow up email support to ensure you have a positive and well informed experience from start to finish.
6 Look after your general health
It’s vital to look after your sexual health because STIs, unwanted pregnancies and uncertainty about sex can all cause a great deal of anxiety. You’ll need to look after your mind and body too with a healthy diet, regular exercise and relaxation whenever possible.
All this, combined with a positive and proactive approach to your sexual health will benefit your wellbeing now and well into the future. With so much uncertainty at the moment, taking charge of your sexual health, mental and physical wellbeing is a sure fire way to feel calmer and more in control.
Book an appointment to talk about sexual health with one of our healthcare professionals.
Or visit the LetsGetChecked website to order a sexual health home testing kit. Use the code ‘valahealth’ during the checkout process on the LetsGetChecked website to obtain 50% off the cost of a home testing kit.