There, that got your attention didn’t it! Only three letters but very powerful ones. No, I can’t tell you when you will be getting it next but I do feel sexual health is a very important subject for everyone to think about. Sex is permanently thrust in our faces these days – on TV, in the papers, everywhere really. So, I thought a quick run-down of common infections and what to look for would be useful.

These include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, genital warts, syphilis and of course HIV. They can present in a variety of ways from discomfort and discharge, blisters and ulcers, to non specific abdominal or pelvic pain. Sometimes there are few symptoms. In gonorrhoea for example up to 50% of women and 10% of men may have no symptoms at all and therefore be unaware that they can pass it on.

The speed of onset is also variable from days to months depending on the type of infection. Some infections appear and then seem to hide away for sometime such as herpes and genital warts.

HIV can come on slowly, only becoming apparent when conditions associated with a compromised immune system are found in hitherto healthy individuals.

Of course taking precautions, like using condoms, is always the best option but mistakes/accidents can happen. If you are worried about any of the above or your sexual health in general there is help at hand! You can see your GP to discuss your concerns and they may well refer you on to the Local Genito-Urinary- Medicine (GUM) department, in our case this is based at the LGI, for further assessment.

If you require any further information about sexual health or have any other questions please get in touch. If there are any short questions I will try and answer them briefly at the end of each article.

Quick question – “I am a sufferer of cold sores and have tried many creams that are on the market, but none seem to work. Do you have any other suggestions?”

Quick answer – Recurrent or chronic cold sores often require treatment with oral anti-viral tablets, such as aciclovir, to keep the infection suppressed. See your GP for advice regarding this.

There is as always plenty of helpful advice on the web.

A fantastic site covering every aspect from testing to contraception. Well worth a look.

NHS sexual health clinic based at the LGI.

Sexual health information and resources for gay men in the north of England.