When we think of our health in general, many people tend to overlook sexual wellness. We have come a long way since the bird and bees talks of yesteryear—it is now more important than ever for us all to be well-informed about potential STDs and aim for being sexually aware. We will be discussing what types of common STDs are out there, where you can get tested in Singapore and ways to practise safe sex. It is so important that everyone familiarise themselves with sexual awareness: it doesn’t just protect yourself but also your partners too! So let’s start talking about the birds and the bees!
What is sexual wellness and why it's important
Sexual wellness refers to a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual behaviour. It encompasses a range of factors, including physical, emotional, and social aspects of sexual health. It’s important to prioritise sexual wellness because it plays a crucial role in our mental and physical health.
Regular sexual activity can improve our mood, reduce stress, and boost our immune system. Aside from talking openly and positively about sex and having fulfilling sexual experiences, an important aspect of sexual wellness involves being aware of sexually transmitted infections, risks, prevention, treatment and more. By taking care of our sexual wellness, we can improve our quality of life and form healthier relationships with ourselves and others.
What are STDs?
Sexually Transmitted Diseases, commonly known as STDs, are diseases spread through sexual activities. They are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that infect an individual’s reproductive organs. It is vital to understand that anyone sexually active can contract an STD, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. These infections can range from mild to severe and can cause long-term health issues if left untreated.
Some of the most common symptoms include painful urination, unusual discharge, sores or bumps around the genitals, and fever. Since prevention is always better than cure, it is crucial always to practise safe sex by using condoms during sex, getting regular STD testing, and limiting sexual partners. By taking these precautions, individuals can reduce the risk of contracting or spreading STDs and enjoy healthier sex life.
Common STDs and Their Symptoms
When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, there are a few common ones that everyone should be aware of.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is most common in people between the ages of 15-24. Chlamydia is often referred to as the “silent” STD because most people don’t experience any symptoms, making it easily spread. Chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported STDs in Singapore. However, symptoms may include a burning sensation when urinating, unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, abdominal pain and fever.
Gonorrhoea is another common STD caused by a bacterial infection. It can be spread through oral, anal or vaginal sex and can affect the reproductive organs, anus, throat and eyes. It also affects people between 15-24 years old most commonly. Symptoms of gonorrhoea may include painful urination, unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, bleeding between periods, and abdominal pain in women. If left untreated, it can cause infertility and other serious health issues.
Herpes is a viral infection that causes blisters or sores in the genital area. It is usually spread through sexual contact with someone who has the virus. Symptoms of herpes may include itching, burning sensation, tingling, small blisters or ulcers around the genitals, and swollen lymph nodes.
Syphilis is one of the most serious STDs as it can be fatal if left untreated. It is caused by a bacterial infection and generally presents itself as painful sores on the genitals, mouth or anus. Other symptoms may include fever, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss and fatigue. Syphilis can also lead to serious neurological problems if left untreated.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, weakens a person’s immune system and can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It is primarily spread through sexual contact, but can also be passed on through blood transfusions or injection drug use. Symptoms of HIV may include fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and unexplained weight loss. Although there is no cure for HIV, it can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes.
How to protect yourself from STDs
One of the most common ways to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases or STDs is by practising safe sex. This involves the use of condoms during sex to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids, which can include blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk, among others. Another highly effective method is to avoid having sex altogether or limiting sexual partners, especially if you are not sure about their sexual history or current health status.
It’s also important to get tested for STDs regularly and seek medical attention immediately if you spot any symptoms, such as genital sores, discharge, or a burning sensation during urination. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so make sure you take proactive steps to safeguard your sexual health.
Where to get tested for STDs in Singapore
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are unfortunately very common and can have serious long-term consequences. If you suspect that you may have contracted an STD, it is crucial to get tested as soon as possible.
Fortunately, there are several places in Singapore where you can get tested for STDs anonymously and discreetly. Most clinics offer testing services that include blood tests, urine tests and swab tests depending on the type of STD you may be suffering from.
It is important to note that not all STD testing facilities are created equal and it is recommended that you research the reputation of each clinic before visiting. Reputable clinics should use reliable methods to provide accurate results, as well as offer patient support throughout the entire process.
Here is a list of some clinics that offer STD testing:
STD Screening Singapore Clinic
Taking a tailored approach to meet each individual’s unique needs, STD Screening Singapore aims to provide caring, compassionate, and non-judgemental expertise on all sexual health and sexually transmitted disease/infection (STD/STI) related issues. They have served thousands of patients since 2016 and aim to continue providing the best care and assistance possible to all their patients.
Tanjong Pagar Medical Clinic
As an approved anonymous HIV testing clinic by the Ministry of Health (Singapore), Tanjong Pagar Medical Clinic provides a full range of STD and STI testing services which can be done concurrently as HIV testing. They also offer vaccination against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis virus to prevent certain sexually transmitted infections.
DTAP Clinic (Dr Tan & Partners)
Established in 2005, the DTAP clinic has conducted over 43,000 HIV and Rapid STD tests. DTAP clinic @Robertson is an approved Anonymous HIV test site by the Ministry of Health in Singapore and is supported by the Health Promotion Board. Patients who visit the Anonymous HIV Test site do not need to provide their details such as NRIC or Passport, addresses, and contact numbers.
These facilities use a variety of testing methods, including blood tests and urine samples, to give you an accurate diagnosis. Remember, getting tested can often be the first step towards getting the treatment you need to protect your health and well-being.
How to talk with your partner about sexual wellness and safety
When it comes to discussing sexual wellness and safety with your partner, it can be a sensitive and uncomfortable topic for some. However, having an open and honest conversation with your partner is essential for maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. Start by setting aside a time to talk when both of you are in a comfortable environment and have each other’s full attention. It’s crucial to approach the conversation with respect and understanding, acknowledging any fears or concerns your partner may have. Emphasise the importance of practising safe sex and discuss any potential risks or concerns you both may have. Remember, communication is key in any relationship, and discussing sexual wellness and safety will only strengthen your bond.
Sexually transmitted diseases are unfortunately very common, and it’s important to practise safe sex to protect yourself from infection. Be sure to use condoms during sex, get tested regularly, limit your number of sexual partners, and talk openly with your partner about safety and sexual health. By taking these precautions, you can reduce the risk of contracting or spreading STDs and enjoy a healthier sex life.