Sexual Health in Medway

Last year over 26,000 people used sexual health services in Medway to improve their sexual health, it really is a normal thing to do. While we would always say that prevention is better than cure, sometimes things do go wrong so it's good to know what to do if it does.

 

Unplanned pregnancy

Unprotected sex or failed contraception (which is very low when used correctly) can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. Emergency contraception is available in Medway. You can get Emergency Hormonal Contraception at many pharmacies. It’s free of charge if you are 30 or under and is effective for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. Alternatively you can visit your local CASH, GUM or GP for a full range of emergency contraception. Last year over 2000 women used the free EHC scheme and many others will have purchased it over the counter or accessed another type of emergency contraception.

Teenage pregnancy

An unplanned pregnancy is particularly important when the parents are under eighteen. Even though some young parents make excellent parents, it is likely to impact on how well they do at school or college, which in turn can affect the life choices they are able to make.

Medway has higher than average rates of teenage pregnancy but this number has been falling for some time as young people have more access to information and contraception.

Contraception

Contraception is very important to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. There are many types of contraception and it is important that you decide which is going to be most suitable for you. About 50% of the contraceptives issued at the contraception and sexual health clinics are a long acting reversible contraception. This includes things like the implant, intrauterine devices or systems (sometimes called the coil). You can find out more about the different types of contraception on the NHS choices website or visit a sexual health clinic and discuss the options. If you prefer, you can make an appointment to see your GP to discuss contraception choices.

Sexually transmitted infections

Medway, like most other areas, has several kinds of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among the people who live here. Where a person becomes infected on their body will depend on the type of sex they have, but most STIs can be prevented by using a condom - male or female. Regular annual testing or when changing sexual partners will reduce the risk of an infection getting passed on.

The most common STI in Medway is Chlamydia with approximately 1170 young people aged 15-25 diagnosed in 2014, but as not everyone eligible came forward for testing the actual number infected is probably higher. Young people can access free testing and treatment through the National Chlamydia Screening programme; you can order an STI screening kit online. Find out more here.

Chlamydia is not just a young person’s problem, it also affects older people and because it often does not have symptoms it can remain undetected. The numbers of people aged over 25 diagnosed with chlamydia is increasing in Medway, so if you have had unprotected sex and you can’t be certain that your partner did not have chlamydia it is worth going to a sexual health clinic or ordering an STI screening kit online from SH:24 for a simple and painless diagnosis. You can find out more about chlamydia by visiting NHS Choices

At approximately 340 diagnoses for genital warts and 190 diagnoses for genital herpes in 2014 they were the next two common STIs in Medway; although numbers are much lower than for chlamydia they are both increasing.

There are other STIs such as gonorrhoea and syphilis and you can find out more information on them by visiting NHS Choices.

If you do become infected with an STI it is important to get treatment and it is equally as important to prevent it from happening again by using condoms whenever you have sex (vaginal, anal or oral). You can order a STI screening kit online. There are also free condom schemes for certain groups of people who are at risk of STIs - you can find details here.

HIV

HIV is the virus that if it is left untreated can cause AIDS. Treatment for HIV is excellent now; people who are diagnosed early and start treatment at the correct time are able to live a near normal life. An early diagnosis will also reduce the likelihood of the virus being passed on to a sexual partner; most people who become infected do so by a person who did not know their HIV status. A blood test will diagnose HIV and there are also simple screening tests available.  HIV diagnosis is fairly low in Medway and although it can affect anyone it is most likely to be diagnosed among certain groups, the reasons for this are complicated and has little to do with the individuals but is more to do with how many people are infected in the population they are likely to have sex with.

We recommend that if you have had unprotected sex and are having a sexual health screen, that you also have an HIV test.

 

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