Sexual health

Sexual health is something that should be important to all people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or culture.

A "STI" is a term used to describe a wide range of infections very easily passed on during sexual contact.

They are caused by bacteria and viruses present in blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva or on the skin. Many STIs are much more easily spread than HIV, and some if left untreated can cause serious implications.

Some common STIs include

  • Pubic Lice
  • Scabies
  • Genital Warts
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea

The only way of knowing if you definitely have, or have not contracted an STI is by having an STI screening. This can be very important because many infections can be ‘asymptomatic’, meaning that there are no obvious signs of infection.

However, when symptoms do appear, they are wide-ranging and can sometimes include:

  • Rashes.
  • Itching or irritation around the genitals.
  • Sore throat.
  • Sores/blisters/ulcers in or around the lips.
  • Discharge from your penis, anus or vagina.
  • Pain when peeing.

How to avoid Infection?

First of it is important to realise that if you are sexually active there is no guaranteed way of avoiding infection with an STI.

However, some things can be done to significantly reduce the potential of infection.

  • Using a condom during anal or vaginal sex will significantly reduce the risk of infection.

  • Always use a water or silicon based lubricant, such as KY Jelly. Some oil based lubricants such as Vaseline will actually damage the condom.

  • Use dental dams as a barrier for oral sex between women. (A dental dam is a square of latex).

  • Try to avoid contact with body fluids such as semen, blood, urine or sores during sexual contact.

  • Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A+B. 


Some helpful links

Gay Health Network

Gay Men’s Health Project

Southern Gay Men’s Health Project

Johnny (peer action group for gay and bisexual men)