All it takes is one episode of unprotected sex to catch a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Untreated STDs can bring years of discomfort and pain, and can be unwittingly transmitted to others. Here you can find out more about the most common STDs and where you can turn if youre worried that you might be infected.
You will also find links to further information about each disease and clinics you can go to in Stockholm. You can also contact the Student Health Centre for advice on who to talk to. Did you know that free condoms are also available in our waiting room? Why not pop in and pick some up?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
STDs are transmitted via the genitals, mouth and rectum. Some diseases, such as HIV and syphilis, are also transmitted by the blood. Many STDs cause only minor health problems, if any, which can make them difficult to detect. STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV/AIDS, herpes, condyloma, hepatitis B, crabs, scabies, trichomonas and lymphogranuloma vererum.
The very best protection against STDs is a condom or femidom. If you have oral sex with a woman, you can use a dental dam.
Unprotected sex on the "first night" seems to have risen in popularity amongst young people during the 1990s. There is also a connection between sexual risk-taking and the use of alcohol and drugs. Condoms are the only contraceptive that protect against STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Since 1967's sex survey, condom use has more than halved, while the use of the female pill has increased by almost as much. There has also been a change in contraceptive method.
This means that a majority protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies while omitting to protect themselves against STDs. You can read more about condom use on the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) website, where you can also have a chance to reflect on your own attitudes to condom use and to set up a condom plan.
While STDs sometimes have clear genital symptoms, they can also be symptom free - which means you can be infected without knowing it and can unwittingly pass the disease on to your partner. Classic symptoms are itching, pain or itching when urinating, and discharge from the urethra or vagina. Women can also have bleeding.
You should seek medical help for STDs as soon as you suspect an infection. But how do you know if you're infected if not all STDs show symptoms? The simple answer, unfortunately, is that if you've had unprotected sex you might be infected; and if you have a new partner or unprotected sex on more than one occasion, the risk is even greater. Leaving an STD untreated can give rise to a series of complications, depending on agent. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can give women PID (infection of the fallopian tubes) and men epidiymitis (an inflammation of the epididymus), which can lead to future fertility problems. Condyloma increases the risk of cervical cancer.
Where to get help
There are many clinics around providing test and treatment services. If you're under 23, you can go to your nearest young person's clinic; otherwise you can go to Karolinska University Hospital's SESAM clinic. Many people find it embarrassing or awkward to seek help for an STD, but the staff at the clinics are accustomed to dealing with most problems. Remember that it's best to get tested once too often than not at all. Most STD tests and treatments are free of charge.
Want to find out more?
People between the ages of 13 and 25 can also have their questions about sex, health and relationships answered at umo.se, the website of the young people's online advice centre.
The Stockholm Healthcare Guide gives you information on common sex and relationship matters, such as STDs and their symptoms, where you can seek treatment if you think you might be infected, how to protect yourself, and much more besides: