March 8th is International Women’s Day and this year the theme is gender parity. A balance between genders is important for so many reasons and one area of mutual responsibility should be sexual health. Any type of sex can result in a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and in any kind of relationship, including heterosexual relationships, men and women can both catch STIs and can both spread STIs to one other. Men and women can both have a sexually transmitted infection without any symptoms, and therefore either may pass on an infection without knowing it.
In 2014, the numbers of new diagnoses for STIs in the UK were 226,709 for men and 210,843 for women* highlighting that neither gender is greatly more responsible than the other for ensuring that infections are not passed on. In men, women and all gender identities, the physical consequences of STIs can be serious as can the psychological impacts of dealing with an infection.
Infertility and physical harm can be caused through various untreated STIs and there are often additional risks to women who have an infection during pregnancy. Some STIs can be passed to a baby at birth and parents have a shared responsibility for looking after their sexual health when planning a family to reduce these risks. Syphilis, for example, can remain undetected for years but can cause male or female babies to be born prematurely, have a low birth weight, or be born with congenital disease.
Outside of family planning, male and female condoms can help to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. However, some infections, such as Herpes and HPV, can also be spread with non-sexual contact. The only way to be sure that sexual infections are not present in the body is to have an STI test or screen. Better2Know offers a wide range of testing options for all, giving you peace of mind with your partner.