Sexual health screening is very important, especially with the recent rise in sexually transmitted diseases. We offer and recommend a general sexual health screen for anyone who has had unprotected sex with someone who is not known to be free from sexually transmitted diseases. Most of these diseases can be easily treated when detected early but, if not, they can lead to very serious consequences such as infertility.
We recommend that women have a cervical smear annually from the age that they become sexually active. This involves a doctor taking a small sample of cells from the cervix, which is at the entrance to the womb, to check for any abnormal changes that may lead to cancer. In addition, we can offer the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine which protects against cervical cancer.
There are several different contraceptive methods available which can protect you from pregnancy. Your GP can advise you on the best type to suit your age, past medical history and lifestyle. However, nothing is 100% safe.
The main methods of contraception:
• Barrier contraceptive methods include condoms, cervical caps and diaphragms. Advantages are that they do not disturb normal bodily functions or fertility; however they can affect the spontaneity of sex and be ineffective if used incorrectly. Condoms are the only contraceptive method which also protects both user and partner from certain sexually transmitted diseases.
• Hormonal contraceptive methods include the combined oral contraceptive pill and progesterone-only pill (mini-pill), or delivering the hormones into a muscle or under the skin in various ways. These methods do not disrupt sexual activity and the combined oral contraceptive pill is particularly reliable but can lead to side effects or an increased risk of some health conditions.
• Mechanical methods involve an intrauterine device (coil) being inserted into the uterus by a doctor. They give long-term protection but may have some side effects.
• A more permanent contraception which can either be performed on men (vasectomy) or women (tubal ligation or hysterectomy), is only suitable for people who do not want children. There is a low failure rate with operations such as vasectomy and reversal of the operation is often difficult.
• Emergency contraception is only appropriate if you have had unprotected sex or your usual method of contraception has failed e.g the pill Ulipristal acetate must be taken within 5 days after intercourse.
• The natural method of contraception means identifying days in your menstrual cycle when you are fertile and avoiding sex at this time or using another form of contraception. This method can be unreliable and affect the spontaneity of sex.
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