Stay safe on Valentine’s Day

If you’re in the mood for love this Valentine’s Day, remember to protect your health and prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by practicing safe sex.

Valentine’s is often described as the most romantic day of the year, and it’s a time when many couples are most likely to be intimate –  so making sure that you use effective contraception is important to keep you and your partner safe.

Julie Fleetwood, Executive Nurse for Quality and Patient Safety for Spectrum, said: “Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections and unexpected pregnancy is the safest way to enjoy Valentine’s Day, without worrying about what the morning could bring. Our professionals can help find a method of contraception which works for you – from condoms to the Pill or contraceptive implant – and will give confidential and non-judgemental advice to meet your needs.”

In 2016, around 30% more people visited Spectrum’s sexual health services in Barnsley in the week after Valentine’s Day. Spectrum clinics can offer advice on many methods of contraception, as well as providing access to free condoms through the C-Card scheme. Using a condom when you have sex is one of the most effective methods of reducing your risk of STIs and unexpected pregnancy and is successful in over 98% of cases. In the rare instance that a condom splits, you might need to access emergency contraception.

A common form of emergency contraception, known as the “Morning after pill”, prevents pregnancy in approximately 96% of cases when taken within 72 hours after sex. However, unprotected sex carries more than a risk of pregnancy – it could also increase your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Chlamydia is the most common STI among men and women in the UK, and often causes no symptoms. Leaving STIs untreated for a long time can damage your health and impact on your fertility, so if you’re unsure, come and be tested.

Spectrum Community Health provides contraception and sexual health services for the Barnsley and Wakefield districts, including free condoms for 16-25 year olds signed up to the C-Card scheme, emergency contraception and advice on safe sex and STI testing. For details of local clinics, or to order a free chlamydia testing kit online, please visit our sexual health pages at www.sexual-health.co.uk.