Your guide to sexual health: Debunking myths and protecting yourself

Written by: Dr Alisha Esmail
Edited by: Kate Forristal

Maintaining your sexual health is a vital part of overall wellness. Just like any other aspect of health, it requires attention, care, and sometimes, professional guidance. In her latest online article, Dr Alisha Esmail debunks myths and addresses pressing questions.

Will my contraception protect me?

While condoms are widely recognised as the best defence against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it's important to know they aren't foolproof. Condoms significantly reduce the risk of contracting STIs, but they don’t offer 100% protection. It's a common misconception that contraceptive methods like the pill, injection, implant, and intrauterine devices (IUDs) protect against STIs. Although highly effective at preventing pregnancy, they do not guard against STIs.


How can I protect myself?

Staying aware and vigilant about your and your partner’s bodies is crucial. Symptoms like unusual discharge, rashes, lumps, painful urination, or fevers should not be ignored as they may indicate an STI. Getting tested before and after engaging in sexual activities with a new partner is a responsible and proactive step. It ensures your well-being and fosters a culture of open communication and mutual respect regarding sexual health. Having an open and honest conversation with your partner about sexual health can be surprisingly comfortable and reassuring.


What does testing involve?

Testing for STIs typically includes several steps to ensure a thorough assessment of your sexual health. This may involve a consultation, physical examination, swab tests, and sometimes blood tests. An examination checks for visible signs or symptoms, while swab tests collect samples from areas like the genitals, throat, or rectum to check for specific infections. If you’re uncomfortable, self-swabbing might be an option. Blood tests can detect antibodies or traces of viral infections that may not be immediately apparent. These tests provide a comprehensive understanding of your sexual health, allowing for accurate diagnosis and appropriate guidance.


What if I have an STI?

If any results are positive, you will be notified discreetly and provided with treatment and advice on partner notification. This protects your past and current partners and prevents re-infection. Facing STI testing can be anxiety-provoking, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing is invaluable. Left untreated, certain infections can impact your fertility and future health.


Can London Gynaecology help me?

At London Gynaecology, our testing procedures are conducted with utmost care, discretion, and professionalism. We aim to provide a comprehensive evaluation of your sexual health, empowering you with accurate information and appropriate guidance. Book an appointment with one of our experienced GPs or consultants to start taking care of your sexual health.


Remember, regular testing and open communication about sexual health are crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It's not just a personal responsibility; it's part of a collective effort toward a healthier and more informed community.


You can schedule an appointment with Dr Esmail on her Top Doctors profile.

By Dr Alisha Esmail
Obstetrics & gynaecology

Dr Alisha Esmail is a highly regarded general practitioner with a specialisation in women's health, practicing at London Gynaecology. She earned her MBBS with Distinction from Imperial College London in 2016 and holds a BSc in reproductive sciences. Dr Esmail has furthered her expertise with postgraduate diplomas in obstetrics and gynaecology (DRCOG) and sexual and reproductive health (DFSRH), specialising in various procedures including intrauterine devices fitting and subdermal implants.
In her practice, Dr Esmail offers services such as well woman health checks, contraception counselling & fitting, emergency contraception, pre-conception counselling, sexual health, menopause management, and period abnormalities treatment. Outside clinical practice. Dr Esmail acts as a medical advisor for fem tech startups such as Flo Health and Dama Health. She also contributes as a medical writer at GirlYouNeedToKnowThis and has previously served as a board trustee at Sister Circle, emphasising her commitment to supporting women in various capacities.
Dr Esmail's dedication to women's health and her involvement in advancing the field through technology and community initiatives highlight her expertise and commitment to comprehensive care for women.

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