STI spike to follow summer freedoms: Sexual Health Week takes place from September 12 to 18 this year. According to a recent survey, alarmingly, over half of Brits have NEVER had a sexual health check.
- Doctors warn of rises in STIs following a summer free from COVID-19 restrictions
- Almost 3 in 10 don’t ask about a partner’s sexual health before engaging in sexual activity with them
- Over a third would be embarrassed to speak to a medical professional about a STI symptom
- Bupa Health Clinics launch in-clinic sexual health checks
Doctors warn of a spike in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) following a summer free from COVID-19 restrictions, as over half (59%) of Brits reveal they’ve never been for a sexual health check before, according to new research by Bupa Health Clinics (1), which has just launched its inclinic sexual health checks.
Factors including not knowing what the test consists of (12%), concerns about undressing in front of the doctor (10%) and feeling as though they’d slept around (10%) were all reasons why people have put off getting a sexual check.
Despite this, 21% of Brits are looking forward to dating again now COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but almost three in ten (29%) don’t ask about a partner’s sexual health before engaging in sexual activity with them.
Almost a third (31%) said they’d be embarrassed if a partner asked them to have a sexual health check before they had sex and over a third (36%) would be embarrassed to speak to a medical professional about symptoms.
For those who had been for a sexual health check before, a quarter hadn’t had a check for over two years. One in five got checked when they had a new partner or when they showed symptoms.
Dr Naveen Puri, Associate Clinical Director at Bupa Health Clinics, said: “This summer has certainly been fun for Brits as they filled their diaries with social events. And while it’s great to see people getting out and enjoying themselves again, we’re expecting to see a surge in sexually transmitted infections.
“It’s really important that people get checked for STIs, especially when having unprotected sex with a new partner. For example, Chlamydia sometimes has no symptoms at all, so you may not know that you have it or that you’ve passed it onto a partner. It can cause pain and infection in the testicles or reduce fertility, which for some women could mean they may struggle to have children in the future. This is why sexual health needs to become a priority for people, because if left untreated, infections could have more serious consequences.
“Our research shows that many people are embarrassed to talk to partners and healthcare professionals about their sexual health. It’s vital that we start and have these open conversations to protect ourselves from STIs.”
The research also found half of respondents didn’t feel confident in identifying the key symptoms of the most common sexually transmitted infections in themselves and a third (32%) of Brits said they would only get an STI check if someone told them to, rising to 36% in 25-34-year-olds.
Dr Puri adds: “We live in a society where we celebrate being open about who we are and what we like, yet when it comes to STI checks, there still seems to be a taboo with many associating it with promiscuity or having multiple sexual partners. However, the reality is that you can catch an STI from anyone at any time if you’re having unprotected sex of any kind.
“There is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed about attending for STI screening; taking control of our sexual health and getting checked should be just as essential as seeing a doctor for any other health concerns you may have. It’s nothing to worry about and often consists of a
blood test, a urine sample or swabs from where you have the infection. If you have no symptoms and are testing to reassure yourself, you can do the relevant swabs on your own.
“So, whether you’re thinking of starting dating again, entering a new relationship or wanting to keep on top of your sexual health, make the time to get checked and encourage friends and partners to do the same.”
1. The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,044 respondents aged 16+ in UK between 27.05.2022 – 30.05.2022. The survey was conducted from a nationally representative sample of UK adults. Quotas were applied to nationally representative proportions for age, gender and region. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.