Sexual Health for St. Patrick’s weekend

With St. Patrick’s weekend around the corner, we think it is important for all of us to remember that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can present no visible symptoms, meaning that you may have an STI without even knowing it. Untreated STIs can lead to serious health issues that many of us are not aware of. For example, untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, tubal or ectopic pregnancy and cervical cancer.

Ireland’s STI detection rate has drastically increased by 14% over the years, with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, syphilis and HIV all on the increase. Therefore, it is incredibly important we are all proactive in managing our sexual health, so with the upcoming celebrations, we’ve detailed the long-term affects of the four most common STIs in Ireland.

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

These are the two most common STIs in Ireland and often appear together in infected individuals. Both men and women are affected with similar symptoms of discharge from the vagina or penis, burning and itching when urinating and in women, pelvic pain. However, this is common infection that can be effectively treated. If the infection remains undetected and untreated, long term consequences such as ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility can occur.

Herpes Simplex I and II

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), there are two distinct subtypes of HSV, HSV-1 and HSV-2. In the past, HSV-1 was associated with oral herpes (cold sores) and HSV-2 was associated with genital herpes; we now know that you can be infected by either in both locations. After the initial infection, HSV can remain dormant in certain nerve cells of the affected area of the body for life, which can reactivate and cause common outbreaks on along your mouth and genital area.

How to Get Tested?

If you are worried and want to get tested, visit your local LloydsPharmacy or LloydsPharmacy.ie, and select the appropriate LetsGetChecked at-home STI test. LetsGetChecked will provide you with the means to test yourself from the comfort of home and our medical team will provide you with guidance and support. There are three different tests to choose from:

  • Simple 2: Tests for chlamydia and gonorrhoea
  • Standard 6: Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
  • Complete 12: Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, herpes simplex 1, herpes simplex 2, gardnerella, mycoplasma, trichomonas & ureaplasma

How Does LetsGetChecked Work?

After you have purchased your test from LloydsPharmacy, you will take your samples from the comfort of home and return them directly to our accredited laboratory partner by prepaid envelope. The customer receives their results online within 2-3 working days of the sample reaching the laboratory.

In the event your results are positive or outside the normal range, our expert nursing support team will guide you through your personalised treatment program.

 

Supporting Irish National Breastfeeding Week – Planning to Breastfeed?

If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, you are providing nature’s own immunisation protecting baby against a wide variety of illness and conditions. It’s designed perfectly to meet your baby’s every need. It’s ready when baby needs it at the perfect temperature and comes neatly packaged with no need to sterilise!

Your breastmilk contains essential enzymes, hormones and immunoglobulins vital for your baby’s normal growth, development and good health. And despite decades of research by formula companies, science still cannot replicate the wonders of your own breastmilk.

Breastfeeding is the ideal start for your baby. The goodness of breastfeeding will last you both a lifetime, it’s probably one of the single most important things you can do for you and your baby’s health. Breastmilk gives your baby all the food and drink they need for the first six months of life, and continues to be an important part of their diet, as other foods are given, for up to two years of age and beyond.

(Source: The benefits of Breastfeeding: a DOH initiative.)

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While breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby, it is a skill that you and your baby develop over the first days and weeks.  One way to help you prepare is to go to breastfeeding classes held by lactation consultants and midwives.  Ensure that you pack your hospital bag with Multi Mam Compresses to relieve soreness immediately and help prevent the occurrence of mastitis.  Also have Multi Mam Lanolin and Balm to help condition your nipples to prevent soreness and irritation.

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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.