Julie Taylor, senior sexual health adviser, tells us why sexual health should still be a priority even in a global pandemic…
No matter what’s going on in the world, sex is a normal part of life and, while we encourage everyone to stick to the current government guidance and to practise safe sex, we know that that’s not always a reality.
Let’s face it, there’s lots to think about at the moment so looking after your sexual health may be forgotten about but the impact of not practising safe sex or looking after your sexual health could potentially last a lifetime. In the same way it’s really important to wear a mask and wash our hands regularly to protect ourselves from coronavirus, it’s important we protect ourselves from sexually transmitted infections or unintended pregnancies by using condoms (or alternative methods of contraception). There are many ways that we can support your sexual health so I thought it would be helpful to tell you a little more.
The team can discuss the many free contraceptive methods available and help you to decide what will work best for you, but we also provide confidential support with so much more…
Did you know STIs often display no symptoms? This means people often don’t know they have one! We offer screening and treatment for STIs and we recommend that people are regularly checked. A large part of our role is partner notification – identifying individuals that have potentially been in contact with someone who has an STI to offer screening and treatment. This helps to prevent further transmission of the infection and allows us to spread the word about the importance of practicing safe sex. It can often be difficult to locate partners but this is why we are known as the sex detectives!
We also support anyone who has recently received an HIV diagnosis and work with them to access the treatment and support they need.
We discuss pregnancy options with women and their partners and we have close links to women’s psychology for anyone needing additional support.
We know that people often worry about contacting the sexual health service but we’ve done lots to ensure that anyone who needs to be seen can be done so, safely and confidentially. We’re offering virtual appointments, live chat and telephone consultation where possible. And we’re honestly a great bunch of people who offer an inclusive service to all – whatever age, gender, culture or sexuality individuals identify themselves as. And, while our support may be a bit different since the pandemic started, I’m proud to say, we’re still here for anyone who needs us, regardless of the situation, no judgement at all.
There is very little we have not seen or heard and I think it’s pretty impossible to shock us! We love it when our patients are open and honest with us as it allows us to be as helpful as possible and can be a great learning opportunity for us. So, if you’ve been putting off contacting us, don’t!