Sexual Health Awareness Week 2021: Questions with Dr. Sara Soltan MD, Sexual educator

What are some most common misconceptions on sexual health?

Myth 1: If I don’t have any symptoms I don’t have an STI.

Truth: Unfortunately, most people with STIs don’t show any symptoms.

Myth 2: If he pulls then I can’t get pregnant.

Truth: During the sexual activity, when the penis erects it has some secretions called the pre ejaculate, the “pre cum”. This may have some sperms which could lead to pregnancy.

Myth 3: Outercourse, rubbing the genitals against each other without intercourse, won’t cause STI.

Truth: STIs transmitted through skin to skin contact or through bodily fluids.

Myth 4: I can’t get pregnant if I had sex during my period.

Truth: Sperm can live for up to 5 days inside a woman’s body and you can still get pregnant.

Myth 5: Double the condom double the protection?

Truth: You only need one condom for protection. If using two condoms, the condom is more likely to be broken.

Myth 6: I only had sex once, it’s impossible to get pregnant or an STI.

Truth: All it takes to get pregnant or an STI is one time, so try to use protection every time you have sex.

Myth 7: Condoms protect from all types of STIs.

Truth: Whilst condoms are considered the most effective method to protect from STIs, they are NOT 100% protective. You still can get herpes or syphilis. That’s why it’s so important to get tested if you have a new partner.

What’s normal and what isn’t normal in regards to sexual health?

When vaginal discharge is normal it is:

  • Clear or white
  • Slippery and wet
  • Thick and sticky
  • Doesn’t have a strong or unpleasant smell

The amount of the discharge will change from time to time. It will increase during sexual excitement and during ovulation.

When to worry:

  • If the discharge smells unpleasant or fishy odour
  • If you have itchiness around the genitalia
  • If there is bleeding from you vagina after sex
  • If you have pelvic pain
  • If the consistency of the discharge has changed to resemble cottage cheese
  • If the discharge changed in colour into yellow, green or red

If you noticed any of these symptoms, please contact your GP.

Our vaginas are designed to keep themselves clean so just use water to clean. Don’t use soap or perfume because it will imbalance the PH of the vagina which may lead to infections.

What are some different types of Emergency contraceptives?

Emergency contraceptives can prevent you getting pregnant after having unprotected sex.

Morning after pills:

They are known as the morning after pills, because it’s better to take them as soon as possible after the unprotected sex.

There are two types of Morning pills available in the UK

1- Levonelle: These pills are effective within 3 days from the unprotected sex.

2- ellaOne: You can use this pill up to 5 days after the unprotected sex.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

IUD is considered the most effective emergency contraception, it must be inserted by a trained nurse or a doctor.

How important is clear consent in sex?

Without sexual consent any sexual activity will be considered as sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape.

Sexual violence has a huge toll on women’s physical and mental health.

What are some different ways you can take care of your sexual health?

  1. Know your body, don’t be afraid to touch or look at your vagina, to discover your pleasure points.
  2. Get tested for STIs and HIV if you had unprotected sex with untested partner.
  3. Show up for your pap smears.
  4. Consider using a contraceptive methods if you are not planning to get pregnant.
  5. Communicate with your partner for a healthy and pleasurable sexual life.
  6. Use condoms and dental dams with new partners.
  7. Educate yourself about Sexual health through the NHS website or talk to your GP.