Being a student is an exciting time with young people growing into adults and trying many new experiences. This is an important time with respect to education and learning, but this is also an important stage in developing relationships, interacting with others and taking care of your body and emotions.

It is natural for many students to develop an interest in sex and to engage in sexual activities. In order to maximise enjoyment and understanding of sexual health, there is a need for students to understand the impact that sexual health matters can have on their life, and what to look out for if they are sexually active.

Be aware of STIs

A recent study by the FPA, a sexual health charity, stated that chlamydia was the most common bacterial STI in England. In 2015, chlamydia accounted for 46.1% of all STIs that were diagnosed for the entire year.

Other common STIs in the United Kingdom are:

  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B

Sexual health symptoms to be aware of

It is important to be aware of STI symptoms so you can be treated as quickly and as effectively as possible, but not all STIs have symptoms. In fact, around 70% of females infected with chlamydia and around 50% of males affected by chlamydia display no symptoms or display mild symptoms that are often not diagnosed.

However, there are symptoms associated with STIs and it is important that people are aware of any of the following conditions:

  • Blisters or sores around their mouth, anus or genitals
  • Discharge from the vagina or penis
  • Itching around the genitals
  • Pain when urinating or during a bowel movement
  • The appearance of growths or warts on the genitals
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • A rash

What problems can a sexual infection cause?

It is important that people are aware of the problems that sexual infections can have on them or their partner. While some infections lead to discomfort or itching in the genital area, there can be some serious effects of sexual infection including infertility, cancer and complications that impact on pregnancy.

While many people enjoy a full and healthy sex life without any problems, some people may find that their sexual behaviour places their health or future plans at risk.

How to prevent sexual infection

The only guaranteed way to prevent sexual infection is to not indulge in sexual activity. However, this is not an approach many people wish to take, so it is important to know the actions that allow people to enjoy sex while minimising the likelihood of suffering an STI. The most common steps to prevent sexual infection include:

  • Wear a condom while having sex
  • If using a lubricant, choose a water-based lubricant
  • Wash before and after having intercourse
  • Obtain a vaccination for hepatitis B
  • If you are sexually active, be tested on a regular basis

How to treat sexual infection

If you have experienced a sexual infection, it is important you speak with a medical professional and if they prescribe you a course of treatment, it is vital that you follow this treatment.

If you have contracted a condition such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia or syphilis, it is likely that you will receive a treatment of antibiotics. Antiviral drugs are also used in the treatment of some conditions.

It is natural for young adults to engage in sexual activity and if you feel you are ready for this experience, you should do so. However, it is important to note that sexual health matters can hugely impact on your life, so take precautions and be aware of the risks associated with this activity.

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