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Sexual health

Your sexual health is just as important as your physical and mental health. In this section we’ve listed all of the Information you might need to know on STIs, pregnancy, condoms and HIV, as well as our MASH sexual health clinic, which is based at the MASH drop-in centre.

STI information

How do you get a sexually transmitted infection?

  • Through unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.
  • Through sharing sex toys that have not been washed or covered with a new condom.
  • Via female to female transmission such as rubbing vulvas or transferring discharge from one vagina to another via fingers.
  • Passed from mother to baby during childbirth.

How do you prevent getting a sexually transmitted infection?

If used correctly, condoms will prevent both men and women from contracting most sexually transmitted infections.

However, there are some infections (such as Herpes and Genital Warts) which live on the skin around the genital area such as the groin and pubis and the condom does not cover this area.

This is why we say that condoms will prevent most sexually transmitted infections

Lubricant

We advise you to always use lubricant with customers.  Lubricant, or lube, reduces dryness and friction during vaginal and anal sex.  This makes a split condom less likely.  It can also make sex more comfortable for you.

Only water based lubricant should be used. Oil based lubricants, massage oil, baby oil,   other creams, and pessaries can damage the rubber of latex condoms.

Where can I get it from?

We give out free lubricant if we see you in our clinics or at your place of work.  You can also get it free from sexual health clinics.  You can buy them at some supermarkets and pharmacies.

Oral sex

Oral sex is when someone licks and or/sucks another person’s genitals.

There is a lot of debate among sex workers about whether to use a condom when you have oral sex with a client. Many women feel pressurised to have oral sex without a condom with their clients because other women are offering this service.

It is possible to transmit (catch or pass on) many sexually transmitted infections through oral sex without a condom.

Infections such as chlamydia, herpes, hepatitis A and B, syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV can all be transmitted via unprotected oral sex, though it is a less common way of catching them than through vaginal or anal sex.

The exact risk of getting HIV through oral sex is not known. There have been a few documented case of HIV transmission through oral sex.

If you have open sores on the genitals and you are receiving oral sex, or open sores or bleeding gums and are giving oral sex there is an increased risk of transmitting infections.

Do not clean your teeth, floss or use mouthwash, eat food such as toast, crisps just before or just after having oral sex.  This is because all these can cause small cuts   in your mouth making it easier for infection to pass from one person to another.

If you want to rinse your mouth before or after oral sex use plain water.  Chewing gum can leave a pleasant taste in your mouth.  If a client comes inside your mouth spit out any sperm quickly, or swallow it immediately—do not let it stay in your mouth.

The best way to protect against transmitting sexually transmitted infections during oral sex is to use a condom or a  dam. Some women like to use a flavored condom for this.

Dams are small square sheets of latex that can be placed across the anus or vagina to give protection when rimming or giving oral sex.

Anal sex

Anal sex is when is when a man’s penis, a finger or a sex toy is put inside the anus.

Always use a condom and plenty of lubricant, as it is the most likely way to transmit (catch or pass on) a sexually transmitted infection or HIV.

Using lubricant reduces the risk of tearing delicate skin around and inside the anus. Lubricant also prevents condoms from breaking.

Having a period and working?

Some women work when they are having a period. It is safe to do so.

We advise you to use sponges. Please do not use rolls of baby wipes as that can cause and infection called Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).

Some women like to used coloured condoms as the coloured latex does not show blood in the same way as the ordinary condoms. Please check on the packet that it has a BSI Kitemark or CE mark to show it has been tested and is safe to use.

Hard sports

Hard sports are sex involving faeces (poo).

Infections which can be transmitted during hard sports are Hepatitis A and B. (link)  There is also a small risk that HIV can be transmitted during hard sports if someone is bleeding anally or has blood in their poo

You can reduce the risk of passing on or contracting an infection during hardsports by:

  • *Getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B : call us to organize this
  • *Not eating or receiving faeces (poo) into your mouth

 

For a free and confidential full sexual health screening visit the MASH nurse at the Drop-In. You do not need an appointment. The times she is available are on the MASH timetable.

Next page: Condoms

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