By Akinwale Akinyoade
25 July 2020.
From STI symptoms to discharge, genital appearance to oral sex, here are common questions people ask about their sexual health with the right answers according to Metro UK.
How do I know if I have an STI?
It is important to know that up to 50% of those with an STI never experience any symptoms so if you have had unprotected sex since your last STI test, it is recommended you get tested. It also depends on the type of STI you have contracted – some alter colour and smell of your vaginal discharge for example.
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Can I get an STI from non-penetrative sex?
The chances of getting an STI from non-penetrative sex is lower, but it’s still possible. There is a risk of contracting an STI with any sexual contact, so this includes oral sex, although the risk might be slightly lower. It is d still recommend getting tested when you change partners to ensure you and your partner(s) aren’t putting each other at risk.
Is masturbation bad for you?
Going blind, growing hair on the back of your hands, becoming infertile from masturbation are all myths. In fact, masturbation is safe and considered a normal and common part of human sexuality. It’s usually the first sexual experience that most people have, and can be a valuable part of experimenting with what you like and don’t like. It’s also a convenient way to fulfil sexual desires, and it’s safe from an STI and pregnancy risk point of view. There is no fixed amount of masturbation that is considered “normal”. However, masturbation can become harmful to you if you find it is interfering with your everyday life, or impacting your ability to have or want sex in a loving relationship. ‘This can in some people be linked to porn addiction. If you feel this is becoming a concern, it’s best to speak with your doctor.’
Is oral sex safe?
While oral sex is generally safer than penetrative sex it still carries the risk of passing or contracting STIs. This risk is higher if you have sores or cuts around the mouth/genitals/anus. ‘This is because the viruses and bacteria that cause STIs may be present in semen, vaginal fluid or blood and so can travel more easily through breaks in the skin.
What is PrEP?
It stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and is used to prevent HIV infection in those at risk. Good resources for further information are the websites Prepster and Iwantprepnow. If you’re living with HIV, there are also services that you can use for emotional support.
Is my discharge normal?
Vaginal discharge can vary from person to person and throughout your menstrual cycle so what’s normal for you, is normal for you only. If you do have any changes to the colour, smell or texture which you wouldn’t normally expect, it is recommended you speak to your GP or sexual health professional.