The ins and outs of Ireland’s 2 most prolific STIs

With 6 out of 10 Irish people admitting they have never had a sexual health check-up, LetsGetChecked convenient and confidential sexual health testing service is available through LloydsPharmacy Ireland to provide you with greater access to getting tested.  Due to our hesitation in getting tested, below you will find more information on two of Ireland’s most prolific STIs, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, symptoms, and why you need to get tested!

Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in Ireland and according to LetsGetChecked Medical Director, Dr Dominic Rowley, chlamydia is rapidly on the rise. It is incredibly easy to transmit and can be transmitted through oral, anal and vaginal sex; as well as by skin to skin contact.

Chlamydia is often referred to as the “silent STI” as it often does not cause any symptoms whatsoever, which increases the chances of it spreading to a new sexual partner. The lack of symptoms can often lead to a false sense of security and lead to complications if the infection is not detected. Symptoms for chlamydia are different for men and women, for men symptoms can be painful urination, unusual discharge, pain in the testicles, or anal discharge.

For women, it is important to know that 80% of women infected with chlamydia experience no symptoms at all. The only way to know for sure if they are infected is to get tested. However, if they do experience symptoms, these are some symptoms are painful urination, cloudy urine, abnormal vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding during intercourse or between periods, and pain during sex.

Chlamydia is very simple and easy to treat. The treatment is a once off course of antibiotics. If the infection is a more complex, for example, if a woman has pelvic pain or if the infection is found in the throat or the anal region, a more extensive course of antibiotics may be required.

Chlamydia diagnosis relies upon a laboratory test, all of LetsGetChecked sexual health tests are designed to test for chlamydia.

Gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is a STI that can infect both men and women, which causes infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. Gonorrhoea is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the STI. As with most STIs, it is incredibly easy to transmit and often presents no symptoms in women and men.

Some men show these symptoms, a burning sensation when urinating, a white/green discharge from the penis, or painful or swollen testicles. Most women who have gonorrhoea do not have any symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. If left untreated, gonorrhoea can develop into serious complications in women, such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and long-term pelvic pain. Symptoms for women to look out for include pain when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, and vaginal bleeding between periods.

Gonorrhoea can easily be treated when detected; however, it is important that you take all of your prescribed medication. To test for gonorrhoea you can purchase any of the LetsGetChecked sexual health tests from LloydsPharmacy Ireland or you can visit your local clinic.

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How to Practice Safe Sex?

There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of contracting an STI, safer sex is all about protecting yourself and your partners from STIs. STIs are extremely infectious, anybody who has oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or genital skin-to-skin contact with another person can get an STI.

First, as many STIs present no symptoms, it is important to go for regular tests. We recommend that you should get tested every time you enter and leave a new sexual relationship. Condoms are still considered one of the best ways to practice safe sex. When worn correctly, a condom is extremely effective in preventing the transmission of STIs. The wonderful thing about condoms is that they are cheap, and are readily available.

STIs can be easily transmitted through the sharing of sex toys, sterilising toys after each use and using condoms with them will result in safer sex for you. Open communication between yourself and your partner will assess your risk of STIs, when was the last time either of you were tested?

LetsGetChecked sexual health tests are available in LloydsPharmacy Ireland and your results are available within 2-5 working days from when your sample is received in the laboratory. Visit LloydsPharmacy.ie/LetsGetChecked to purchase your convenient and confidential at-home test today.

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Trying for a Baby? – How you can give you and your partner the best chance to conceive.

If you and your partner are in good health, you will improve your chances of getting pregnant and of having a healthy pregnancy.  You can also help yourselves by taking fertility supplements.

76% of Irish women who are trying to conceive believe taking a fertility supplement can help them conceive*.

What factors can affect the chance of having a baby?

Medical issues

Medical issues such as diabetes, asthma and being overweight can affect your pregnancy.

Diet and Exercise

Being overweight – For women if your body mass index (BMI) is between 20 and 25 you have a healthy weight.  Women whose BMI is more than 30 or under 19 may find their fertility levels suffer.  If a men’s BMI is more than 30, his fertility may be lower than normal.

It is important to be active for general feeling of wellness.  Being active and fitter helps with stamina and ability to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life.

Alcohol and smoking

Excessive alcohol drinking may affect the quality of a man’s sperm and smoking may reduce fertility in women.

Age can be a factor

For women, the most fertile period is in their mid –twenties and fertility starts to decrease after the age of 35.

For men, sperm is strongest in their mid-twenties and starts to decrease after the age of 40.

The importance of taking a good quality fertility supplement with the right ingredients and dosage levels.

While it is so important to do the best you can by eating well and exercising moderately, you can also help yourself and your partner by taking a high quality fertility supplement when trying for a baby.   It is very difficult, in today’s environment to get all the nutrients we need from food.

Indeed, the latest research amongst Irish women trying for a baby show that 76% of them believe in the importance of taking a nutritional supplement to aid conception*.

PROCEIVE is the new Irish Fertility Supplement specially made for men and women who wish to have a baby. It contains 33 nutrients, vitamins and minerals, at high quality dosage levels.  Each nutrient performs a role in maximising the quality of the eggs (for women) and the quality of the sperm (for men).

proceive range

Talk to your LloydsPharmacy teams – we are trained extensively in the value of nutrition and can give you helpful advice, recommend the correct fertility supplement to take in a safe, discreet and caring manner.

Don’t miss our Fabulous Pharmacist Laura Dowling who will be part of a panel discussing Fertility on Ireland AM on Monday 24th July at 9.20am.

*Source Mummy Pages July 2017/ http://www.proceive.ie

CHOCOLATE FRUIT & NUT SQUARES – SNACK

Combining nuts and dates to create tasty raw treats is nothing new, a very well known chocolate confectionery brand has been doing a fruit & nut bar since 1926 and we all remember the ad campaign slogan sung to the tune of The Nutcracker!  I understand that the point to snack foods is that they are convenient. That being said putting an hour’s effort into making your own treats means you have a ready supply in the fridge for weeks, but more importantly you are avoiding ingredients such as artificial flavourings, emulsifiers and inflammatory vegetable fats, as well excessive sugar and trans fats.

A standard shop-bought fruit & nut bar will serve up 270 calories and 30g of sugar, which is  listed as the second ingredient after milk. In comparison this recipe provides 182 calories per serving and only 8g of sugars. There is no added vegetable oils with the only fats coming from the natural fats found in whole nuts and seeds that are linked to improved cognitive function, lower body fat, better blood lipid profile and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Using whole, natural foods provides fibre and a range of nutrients including antioxidant vitamin E, biotin for healthy skin, hair and nails, magnesium, manganese and copper. Even chocolate has its benefits but you must choose the darker kind. The darker the chocolate, the less likely there is to be added ingredients such as soya lecithin and other emulsifiers. I like either Green & Blacks Organic 85% or Lindt as ingredients are simply cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla.

Given the sheer variety of nuts, seeds and superfood powders available these days there are endless options to cater for everyone’s tastes. Chocolate and hazelnuts are an age-old match made in heaven but you can use equivalent quantities of other nuts and seeds depending on your preferences or whatever you have available. You can also leave out the chocolate (but why would you want to do that?!).

(makes 16 bars)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (140g) whole almonds
  • 1 cup (135g) whole hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup (40g) hulled hemp seeds (NUA NATURALS)*
  • 10 dates (sulphur-free, pitted)
  • 1/4 cup (3-4 tbsp) maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (50g) jumbo oats
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour(NUA NATURALS)*
  • 100g 85% dark chocolate
  • Coconut oil for lining the baking tray (OPTIMA)*

Topping Options: toasted coconut flakes, cacao nibs, chopped hazelnuts

Instructions

  1. Line a bakingtray with parchment and spread with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a blenderpulse the almonds and hazelnuts until they look like a coarse sand.
  3. Add the hemp seeds, dates, maple syrup, salt, oats andcoconut flour. Blitz again until well combined. The mixture should ‘stick’ a little when pressed.
  4. Dump the mixture onto the lined baking tray and use your hands to press down until its about an inch thick. If the tray is larger than normal, fold the parchment in over the free edge of the mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour to set.
  6. In the meantime break the chocolate into small pieces and place into aPyrex dish over a pan of hot water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Allow the chocolate to melt completely and then remove from the stove.
  7. Remove the nut mixture from the fridge and pourthe chocolate over the top, tilting the baking tray around until the chocolate is evenly spread.
  8. Sprinkle with your chosen topping and place back into the fridge to set.
  9. Once set use a sharp knife to cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for 8 weeks.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
182 13g 5g 13.3g 8g 3g
An excellent source of vitamin E, biotin, manganese, copper, magnesium & antioxidants

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

‘CHIA-LOVE’ BREAKFAST BOWLS – BREAKFAST

Everyone says they don’t “do” St. Valentines Day but secretly we all kind of buy-in to it, if not only to indulge in a little self love. Its not V-Day for another week yet,  but it’s good to be prepared so Im sharing this shamelessly pink breakfast recipe with you in advance.

Truthfully, only after I put the ingredients together did I realise that pomegranate fruit and maca powder are considered in many cultures as natural aphrodisiacs, and have been associated with hormonal health and fertility.  In the interest of science, there is some evidence that can attest to pomegranate juice increasing salivary testosterone levels in men by about 24%; whilst the ingestion of Maca root appears to increase libido in both genders, with three notable studies showing fairly consistent results.

A 30g serving of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fibre, 4g of protein and 5g of omega-3 fatty acid as well as providing almost a third of the recommended daily intake magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. This is particularly impressive when you consider just 30g has only 140 calories, making chia seeds highly nutrient dense.

This fibre and protein rich recipe is an ideal breakfast option and will provide sustained energy and keep you satisfied well into the day whilst the antioxidants and phytonutrients found in raspberries and pomegranate support the immune system and help to repair cell and tissue damage caused by free radicals.

RECIPE

(makes 2 breakfast servings or 4 small, snack-size servings)

  • 2 cups (475 ml) of unsweetened almond or coconut milk (I use Ecomil or Oatly brands)
  • 1/2 cup (6 level tbsp) whole chia seeds*
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of maca powder*
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of ashwagandha powder*
  • 1 cup (about 125g) raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (about 4 tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp light tahini (I use Meridian)

To serve

  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • A few raspberries and some pomegranate seeds

Instructions:

  1. Put the chia seeds, milk, maca, vanilla and ashwagandha (if you’re using it) into a jar with a lid and shake vigorously, ensuring the chia seeds are well combined. Leave aside either overnight or for 10-20 minutes until the mixture thickens (it will look like frog spawn!).
  2. Transfer most of the raspberries and pomegranate to a blender cup (reserve some of the fruit for a topping). Add the tahini and a splash of water. Pulse the fruit until completely mixed.  It will be quite thick which is fine. If you don’t have a blender you could mash the fruit and tahini together with a fork or use a hand-held blender.
  3. When the chia seeds thick and gloopy, combine them with the fruit mixture and stir well.
  4. Transfer to bowls or airtight glass jars (for portability) and top with coconut and fruit. Enjoy!
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Servings Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Per half portion 420 29g 11g 42g 14g 21g
Per quarter portion 105 7.25g 2.75g 10.5g 3.5g 5.3g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

IRRESISTIBLE CURRY-ROASTED ALMONDS – SNACK

Whole nuts and seeds are some of the best snack foods you can eat. Despite being high in fat they are incredibly nutrient dense, to the extent that nuts and seeds rank 3rd in the top 10 most nutrient dense foods (it should please you to know that cacao also made the cut!).  In fact evidence indicates that nut consumers have a lower BMI (body mass index) and nuts contribute to weight control due to their strong satiety effects.

Almonds are a favourite due to their impressive nutrient profile. A 1-ounce serving (about 28g grams) provides 6g protein, 3.5g fiber and over 30% of the recommended daily allowance of antioxidant vitamin E and manganese – a mineral with multiple superpowers, including helping antioxidants to function properly and controlling blood sugar levels.

This recipe makes about 10 handfuls and can be stored in an airtight glass jar for weeks. These are deliciously crunchy with a hint of sweet and salt, making them ever-so-slightly irresistible so stick to a cupped handful (which provides an average serving). Squirrel them away in your desk drawer and grab a handful during the afternoon to see you through until dinner.

(makes 2.5 cups: approx.10x 1oz servings)

Ingredients

  • 250g whole almonds
  • 30g coconut shavings
  • 1 heaped tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp optima raw virgin organic coconut oil* (at room temperature i.e. liquid)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or 2 Tbsp nua naturals coconut palm sugar*)
  • 1/2 Tbsp medium-hot curry powder
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 170 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit). Line a large baking tray with parchment.
  • In a large bowl mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, curry powder, chilli and sea salt flakes. Add the almonds, coconut and sesame seeds.  Mix well ensuring the nuts are well coated.
  • Spread the mixture in one layer onto the baking tray and put into the oven. Roast for about 25 minutes (check after 15 minutes to ensure the coconut is not burning, cover with foil if necessary).
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. As the mixture cools the nuts will become crunchy!
  • Store in cool place, in an airtight glass jar.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER 1 ounce serving
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
147 12.7g 6.2g 6.5g 3.3g 3.8g
A source of protein, fiber, magnesium, manganese & vitamin E

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

WALNUT BREAD WITH DATE & CINNAMON ‘JAM’ – SNACK

Not just that little knobbly nut you used the pick off the top of your walnut whip as a kid, walnuts are an underrated, yet nutritious package of protein, healthy fats, fibre, plant sterols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Eating just a small handful of whole walnuts every day could help to control body weight as well as helping to reduce chronic inflammation in the body which is associated with heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers.

The essential fatty acid found in walnuts is called ALA (alpha linolenic acid). ALA is an omega-3 fat that can significantly reduce fasting insulin levels over a period of about 3 months in people with type 2 diabetes as well as notable improvements in the composition of blood fats.

This is a great recipe to try at the weekend and save individual slices to eat during the week as an afternoon snack. Of course you could very easily just grab a handful of walnuts and a piece of fruit but sometimes we need something a little extra special to keep us on track…especially with the prospect of multiple delicious topping options!

(makes a loaf, approx. 10-12 slices)

For the bread

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 4 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds*
  • 1 tbsp Chia Bia ground chia seeds (or flax seeds)*
  • 1 tbsp maple or agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Equipment: food processor, large bowl, loaf tin, oven

Step by Step

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (350 F). Grease a loaf tin using a little coconut oil*.

  1. Put the walnuts in a food processor and blend until they form a paste (usually takes about 5-8 minutes).
  2. Transfer the walnut paste to a large bowl and stir in the eggs and maple syrup until well combined (you could also just add the eggs and syrup to the food processor bowl and pulse to combine).
  3. Add the ground almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and baking powder and stir with a spatula (the mixture will still be quite wet).
  4. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. You know its cooked when a skewer comes out clean and a crack forms down the centre. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before slicing.

Tip: the bread stores well in an airtight container the fridge for about 1-2 weeks but you can cut and wrap individual slices in parchment / clingfilm and freeze for up to 1 month, defrosting/toasting them only as needed.

Serving options:  Date & Cinnamon Jam

Soak 20 deseeded dates in a half cup hot water to soften. Add 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon and using a hand blender to make a paste.  Store for up to 1 month in an airtight jar in your fridge. Makes about 12 servings (teaspoons).

  • Try this bread with an ounce of good quality mature Cheddar cheese or soft brie cheese and sliced fresh figs.
  • For a quick breakfast spread with a little Meridian almond butter* and top with some sliced banana.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER ONE SERVING (1 slice)
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
153 13.6g 5.7g 4.1g 1.8g 1.6g
A source of folic acid, vitamin B6, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

HAZELNUT MOCHA SMOOTHIE – BREAKFAST

I always recommend starting the day with some protein and fat to fuel your body and brain through a busy morning.  But you needn’t limit yourself to eggs.

Protein powders are versatile and provide all the essential amino acids required by the body. It’s important to choose your brand wisely though, as some have added sugar, poor quality preservatives and inflammatory sources of protein such as genetically modified soy proteins. Plantforce Synergy Vegan Protein available in Lloyds Pharmacies nationwide is a perfect blend of rice, pea and hemp protein suitable for those following dairy- and gluten-free diets.

Whether you’re off to work, the gym, an exam or on the go all day this smoothie will help to sustain you right up to lunch time, and the cheeky caffeine hit will help to boost performance. Coffee is often targeted as an unhealthy beverage as it is a stimulant that increases cortisol release (the stress hormone) in the body.  But its effect is relatively mild. Used strategically, and not to artificially prop your energy levels throughout the day, caffeine can increase physical performance, concentration and focus. When it comes to caffeine, the dose really does make the poison!

(makes 1 serving)

  • 1/2 or 1 banana, peeled (use 1/2 banana to reduce sugar content)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate Plantforce Synergy Protein Powder (if you already purchased the vanilla flavour,  then add a heaped tablespoon of Nua Natural Cacao Powder)*
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Meridian Hazelnut butter (or almond butter)*
  • 150ml almond milk
  • 100ml water
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 tsp medium roast coffee granules

Superfood Boost (Optional): add a heaped teaspoon of Nua Naturals Energy Smoothie Booster*

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores.

Equipment: blender

Instructions: put all the ingredients into a blender cup and blend until smooth. For a quick breakfast you can fill the blender the night before, pop a few ice cubes the next morning and quickly blend so its ready in less than a minute.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
333 13g 21g 35g 14g 7.4g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA