Sorry to be downers, but in the past decade, the rate of women diagnosed with chlamydia has more than tripled – and in 2011, 82 percent of cases diagnosed were in people aged between 15 and 29. That sucks. And then there’s the fact that chlamydia is asymptomatic in at least 60 percent of women and 25 percent of guys – meaning you could have it, but with zero symptoms, not even know it. That sucks harder. So in an effort to reverse this, we’ve teamed up with Aussie condom company Hero to make some very pretty condoms that we’re going to be giving out FOR FREE in our Cosmo Kombi.
STIs: the facts
We contacted sexologist Vanessa Thompson from NSW Sexology Services to give us the lowdown.
How can you tell if you have an STI?
There are many different STIs and many symptoms that can indicate you have one, but sometimes STIs have no symptoms at all. When present, symptoms usually occur around the genital region and can include:
- Unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or anus.
- Pain during sex or urination.
- Sores, blisters, ulcers, warts or rashes in the genital area.
- Itchiness or irritation in the genital area.
- Persistent diarrhoea.
- Fever or flu-like symptoms.
- Abnormal or unusual vaginal bleeding, especially after sex.
What STIs are asymptomatic?
It’s not only chlamydia that’s largely asymptomatic – 80 percent of women with gonorrhoea, and 10 to 15 percent of men, don’t show symptoms, and STIs such as HIV can lie dormant with no symptoms for months or even years.
How often should I get an STI check?
The answer to this depends on your sexual experiences. If a partner admits he may have exposed you to something or if you are worried, get tested – even if you don’t have any symptoms, peace of mind is important. And, if you have unprotected sex with new or casual partners, it is always a good idea to go and get tested.
What is my next step if I think I have an STI?
You should see your doctor or visit a sexual health clinic for testing. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can be detected with urine tests, HIV and hepatitis B require blood tests, and conditions such as pubic lice and scabies need a visual inspection. However, some conditions are really hard to test for – for example, you can’t test guys for human papillomavirus (HPV), even though they can have it.
How can I prevent STIs?
Condoms and dams are very effective in helping prevent the spread of STIs. Each condom and dam should only be used once. Keep them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and always use condoms with a water-based lube, as oil-based substances can weaken the condom and cause it to break.
If I get an STI, how can I get rid of it?
Many STIs are easily treated once they are diagnosed. Treatments include:
- Antibiotics for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.
- Lotions for pubic lice and scabies.
- There is no known cure for genital herpes, HIV and HPV, but there are treatments available to help you manage the symptoms (and HPV can often clear itself up).
What’s the biggest myth about STIs?
Showering straight after unprotected sex will prevent the transmission of STIs! Also, that you can tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them.
Get your FREE condoms!
Since we don’t want to give up sex (imagine!) but we don’t want to get or spread STIs either, we’re on a mission to make sexy times safe by partnering up with Hero to create bespoke condoms… yep, they’re pink! But the best part about Hero is its “One for One” policy, meaning for every one condom they sell here in Australia, one condom is given to an AIDS organisation in a developing country to help stop the spread overseas. Such is Hero’s generosity, for every condom we give away, Hero condoms will donate one to help people in Botswana, where a staggering 43.7 per cent of women aged 30-34 have HIV.
We’ll be handing out the pink Hero condoms in our Cosmo Kombi, so stay tuned and follow us on Instagram @cosmoaustralia, Facebook and Twitter @CosmopolitanAU for all the details. And don’t forget to visit herocondoms.com.au and follow them on Insta @herocondoms. You can use the hashtags #herocondoms and #cosmocommits
to join the conversation.