Quite offten people become more sexually active during their tim at university and with the incidences of Sexually Transmittted Infections (STIs) on the increase in Scotland is is essential to practice safe sex.
At Stirling it couldn't be easier to get hold of information and advice on sexual health and how to avoid becoming infected. The Union Advice and Support Centre has a wealth of information for people of all sexualities which you can take away or browse through.
If you've had unprotected sec it is vital that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Many STIs present few of no symptoms, especially in the early stages, so it is likely you won't even know anything is wrong. Airthrey Park Medical Centre run free sexual health clinics every morning by appointment and all cases are completely confidential. There are also a number of local NHS sexual heath provisions around. For mor information Click here for the Sexual Health Directory.
Free condoms are available from either the Union offices or Airthrey Park Medical Centre. If you are a student at the Highland or Western Isles campus you can collect them from Student Support Services
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV affects the body’s immune system, attacking the body’s defenses against disease making it less able to fight infections and more vulnerable to illnesses. The HIV virus is found in semen, blood, vaginal fluids and breast milk and is passed on by:
• having unprotected sex such as vaginal or anal sex without a condom
• having unprotected oral sex
• sharing syringes or needles to inject drugs
• from an infected mother to baby during pregnancy or through breastfeeding
If left untreated, HIV can cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) seriously harming the body’s immune system, resulting in serious illness and disease. It is not possible to catch AIDS. AIDS can only develop in someone already infected with HIV.
Although there is no cure for HIV, medical treatment is available to slow down the spread of the virus in the body, and help people to live longer and healthier lives. A person living with HIV is said to be HIV positive.
The term AIDS describes specific infections and illnesses resulting from the damage HIV does to the body’s immune system.
STIs can be passed on during intimate physical contact; this includes full sexual intercourse, foreplay, anal and oral sex. Worryingly STIs are on the increase within the UK. The best thing to do if you think you have contracted an STI is to go to your doctor or to your local GUM clinic, there is no need to be embarrassed they’ll have seen everything before, won’t judge you and will keep it confidential.
If you have ever had unsafe sex you are at risk as Chlamydia is the most commonly transmitted STI, if you are female you may already have it and be unaware as women usually don’t have any symptoms; men may get a discharge or burning sensation when urinating. So long-term damage can take place, Chlamydia can lead to ectopic pregnancy and infertility.
The test is very simple and is usually completely cured by a course of antibiotics.
These small fleshy growths appear on or around the penis, vagina or anal area. Passed by skin-to-skin contact with warts it is thought that they may cause cancer of the cervix in women years later. Treatment is performed by a doctor or nurse, it involves the warts being covered in a special liquid –not the same as the wart treatments you can buy from the chemist.
If you have a white/yellow/green discharge from the penis, a stinging sensation when you urinate, you could have gonorrhoea, women may get these symptoms too but many women have no signs of infection. Gonorrhoea is easily treated with antibiotics.
There is no treatment for hepatitis B, which is spread through the exchange of body fluids. If you contract it you’ll need plenty of rest, fluids and a healthy diet avoiding alcohol and certain prescribed drugs. As Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver symptoms rang from flu-like illness, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, light-colourless faeces, diarrhoea, fever, loss of appetite and yellowed skin and eyes. Recovery can take several months.
This virus leads to small blisters developing around the vagina or penis. You may find that passing urine is painful, the genital area may sting, tingle or itch, you may experience pains in your thighs, legs and groin. To test herpes a doctor or nurse will take a swab from the sores and send it for testing along with a urine sample. There is no long-term cure due to the nature of the virus but there are many ways to relieve the symptoms, you can discuss these with your doctor or at a GUM clinic.
Pubic Lice (Crabs)
Pubic lice are parasitic insects which live in coarse body hair. Symptoms include itching in the infected area, black power in underwear (caused by the lice droppings), small brown eggs in hair, occasionally you may see the lice (yellowy-grey and about 2mm long) on your skin. ‘Crabs’ can be transferred during sexual contact, close physical contact or in some cases by sharing sheets or towels with someone who already has public lice. Once public lice have been diagnosed by your doctor or GUM clinic, treatment will usually involve using a special shampoo or lotion.
This bacterial infection is usually transmitted during sexual contact and can be passed from a mother to her unborn child. Symptoms can take up to 3 months to appear, syphilis has two stages of infection both of which are highly infectious. The primary stage involves sores appearing where the bacteria has entered the body so usually around the genitals, anus or mouth, these sores can take 2 to 6 weeks to heal.
About 3 to 6 weeks after the sore you may develop some of the following; a rash over your whole body, flu-like symptoms, sores in the mouth, flat warty-like growths around the genitals and anus and patchy hair loss. If you don’t get treated during these stages syphilis can not be cured and will continue to develop eventually affecting your nervous system and heart. You can get free confidential advice from your doctor or GUM clinic who will explain the test and treatment to you.
Symptoms include intense itching around the penis or vagina, with a thick white discharge and the appearance of tiny white spots around the genitals. Treatments can be bought across the counter at your local chemist.