Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for couples to proclaim their love, but whether you’re in a relationship, casually dating or single and looking to mingle, contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a sure way to turn down the romance.
SURREY – Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for couples to proclaim their love, but whether you’re in a relationship, casually dating or single and looking to mingle, contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a sure way to turn down the romance.
Fraser Health recently launched a new sexual health web resource for people to learn more about sex, including protecting yourself from STIs, how to talk about sex with a partner, birth control options, where to access sexual health services, how to get support if you’ve experienced sexual violence, and more.
“Don’t forget the ‘pillow talk’ this Valentine’s Day! And by ‘pillow talk’ we mean talking about sex with your partner, so that you can make informed decisions about protection, birth control, or any sexual concerns you may have,” said Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Michelle Murti. “Unprotected sex is the easiest way to catch an STI, and it’s important that a person knows what their options are to ensure they’re making their sexual health a priority.”
Some of the most common questions that health care providers hear from patients about STIs include:
- Can I get an STI from kissing? Most STIs are not spread through kissing, although it is not advisable to kiss people with cold sores as you could catch the herpes virus.
- Can I get an STI from a toilet seat? It is very unlikely that you will contract a STI from a toilet seat. They are usually spread through skin-to-skin sexual contact or through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
- I have already had an STI. Can I catch the same one again? If you have been treated for an STI, you can get re-infected with it again if you have unprotected sexual contact with someone who has it. Other STIs, such as herpes and HIV, cannot be cured. There are medications you can take to decrease symptoms and the risk of transmission but you will carry the virus for the rest of your life.
- I had unprotected sex but feel fine. Does that mean I don’t have an STI? The symptoms of many STIs don’t appear for days, weeks, or even months. That’s why it’s important to be tested if you have had unprotected sex, even if you don’t have any obvious symptoms.
- I can’t get or pass on an STI through oral or anal sex, right? You can catch a number of STIs by having unprotected oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Using a condom reduces your risk of catching an STI.
If you have had unprotected sex and/or think you could have an STI, Fraser Health’s web resource outlines how and where you can get tested. You can also learn how to protect yourself from STIs, including options for sexual activities that lower the risk of getting STIs, types of protection, and available vaccines. If you have been diagnosed with an STI, the web resource also outlines ways to access treatment and tell your partner.
Fraser Health recently launched a social media campaign that encourages people to make their sexual health a priority and provides answers to common questions. Visit Fraserhealth.ca for more sexual health information and resources.
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