This is a gentle reminder that one-in-20 young adults have chlamydia. Although the infection is simple and quick to treat, there are rarely any symptoms. According to a new research study, 40% of women in Manchester have never had an STI check. The stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections couple with a wealth of false information means that younger women are unlikely to get tested.
The only way to ensure you are free from infection is to take a test. This is usually a urine sample, a vaginal swab, or in some cases such as HIV testing blood sample. The recommendation is that people should have an annual check. You should also take a test at the beginning of any new sexual relationship. However, only 18% of women nationally follow this advice. The statistics for millennial women are more promising, with 29% of young women having a check yearly.
The most common issue is women misdiagnosing themselves. 61% of women said they could confidently tell the difference between symptoms of thrush and an STI. Yet, when put to the test, less than a third of women were able to accurately identify thrush symptoms. For clarification, these include:
- Itching, soreness or irritation of the vulva
- Vulva and vagina redness
- Odourless discharge which is often white, and off a cottage-cheese consistency
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Pain when passing urine.
Many campaigners believe that poor sex education in schools plays a part in the spreading of misinformation. Stigmas surrounding sexual health deter people from getting tested, and many people are unaware of what to look out for. In order for women to spot changes in their sexual health, they have to first become acquainted with what constitutes normal vaginal health.
This latest study reveals the lengths our education system still needs to go to open up conversations about sexual health and STIs. Many women do not know who to talk to, or how to treat infections. If you think you may have an STI, visit a sexual health clinic or your GP.
Many women are concerned about discussing their sexual health or activity, but home-testing options are available too. RUClear can provide a free home testing kit for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, HIV, and syphilis, on request. You will receive a text message or call with your test results less than a week after sending back your urine sample or vaginal swab.