By David Saunders | UPDATED: 08:28, 14 January 2020
New research by online pharmacist, Medicine Direct, has found that more needs to be done to normalise regular sexual health testing and reduce stigma around STIs.
The findings come as part of a campaign called ‘Fruit of Your Loins’, which aims to raise awareness of STI symptoms and increase conversation surrounding STIs – in the hope of reducing the taboo surrounding them. The campaign uses real fruit to simulate STI symptoms in an effort to make them easier to spot and accessible to see.
33% of adults said they never received education about STIs at school, and a further 20% found their education about STIs to be poor or awful – highlighting the need for increased focus on positive sexual health routines in sexual education.
The research also illustrates a lax approach to regular STI testing, with 25% of adults revealing that they’d only get an STI test if they experienced symptoms – despite the fact that some STIs, such as Chlamydia, can be largely symptomless. Untreated chlamydia can lead to reproductive complications and infertility, so it’s incredibly important to be vigilant. A further 10% of respondents would only get an STI test if their sexual partner told them they had an STI.
Adults also display a reluctance to discuss their sexual history with their partners, with nearly a quarter (24%) stating that they would never feel comfortable discussing their sexual history with their sexual partner.
In the UK, there were 422,000 diagnoses of STIs in 2017 according to Public Health England (PHE).
Key statistics found by Medicine Direct’s survey include:
• 58% of UK adults have never had an STI test
• A further 12% haven’t had one in over 5 years
• Men were 39% more likely to have never had an STI test
• 33% of adults said they never received education about STIs at school
• A further 20% found their education about STIs to be poor or awful
• 25% of adults said they’d only get an STI test if they experienced symptoms
• A further 10% of respondents would only get an STI test if their sexual partner told them they had an STI
• Nearly a quarter (24%) said they would never feel comfortable discussing their sexual history with their sexual partner
• Adults are more likely to turn to Google instead of their partners for advice (10% Google vs 7% partners)
• 18% wouldn’t be confident spotting STI symptoms
• 5% would speak about their sexual history after sleeping together for the first time
• 2% think STIs are a complete myth
A SPOKES PERSON AT MEDICINE DIRECT, said: “In light of our findings, we made our fruity guide to STI symptoms to try and raise the conversation about positive sexual health and to make it easier to spot potential STI symptoms. With how easy it is these days to get your sexual health checked – whether by postal tests, sexual health clinics or your GP – we’ve identified a real area of improvement for our sexually active population.
“It’s worth remembering that for some STIs, such as chlamydia, there can be no visible symptoms – but they can be very damaging if left untreated. That’s why it’s so important to work regular STI testing into your life and treat it as a normal part of your lifestyle as a sexually responsible individual. We really hope to help make it normal to check your sexual health regularly and, if in doubt, check it out.”