Confidante postal STI tests are available to order online and offer a cutting-edge test, handy for the beginning of January which typically sees an increase in cases of possible infections.

The festive party season is the highlight of many people’s social calendars. With champagne flowing, office Christmas parties and a few too many late nights, certain aspects of your health can often be neglected. But it’s not just colds and flu that you need to look out for – your sexual health can often suffer, but you may not even be aware.

The first two weeks in January see a significant increase in GUM clinic attendances for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing.

Clinicians predict an increase in cases of STIs such as gonorrhoea in the weeks after Christmas and Department of Health figures show that levels of the infection are already at an all-time high but clinicians are predicting a further outbreak.

In particular, Gonorrhoea is often symptom free and easily transmitted; a consequence of unprotected sex and at a time of year when people are more likely to take risks with their sexual health.

Dr Wallace Dinsmore, sexual health consultant at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, Northern Ireland, says he is concerned about the extra pressure on GUM & Sexual health services in the New Year:

he said: “January is traditionally the busiest time of year for sexual health clinics; we will see thousands of people who need testing and treatment. There is no doubt that Gonorrhoea is on the rise and we believe we will see a spike in cases in after the Christmas holidays, which will add to the burden on our staff and services. ”

Gonorrhoea is a particularly severe STI, and is easily treated once diagnosed. If symptoms do appear, it would usually be within one week of being infected, however it can take many months. But worryingly 1-in-10 men and half of women infected don’t have any symptoms.

If left untreated gonorrhoea can lead to infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. It is the most commonly diagnosed STI in men who have sex with men, with infection rates increasing by 37% in the last year.

So, what symptoms should you look out for?

In males, symptoms can include:

  • Discharge from the penis which might be white, yellow or green
  • Pain when urinating
  • Swelling of the foreskin
  • Discomfort and swelling of the testicles

In females, symptoms can include:

  • Discharge from the vagina which may be thick and green, or yellow in colour
  • Pain and/or bleeding during or after sex
  • Pain when urinating
  • Bleeding between periods, or heavier periods
  • Pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area

The Gonorrhoea outbreak is a concern to sexual health experts across the UK and Ireland. Dr Dinsmore advises that everyone should take precautions to ensure that they are protected from STIs such as gonorrhoea, so they don’t have a negative impact on your health and sex life.

“Gonorrhoea doesn’t respect borders, it spreads and the public need to bear in mind the importance of protection, not just during the festive season but throughout the year,” he continued.

Dr Gary Smyth medical director at Randox, which is pioneering home STI testing with its CONFIDANTE kit, explains the post-Christmas rush in patients seeking sexual health services.

He said: “STIs are so easily passed on, especially during Christmas when sexual activity can be spontaneous and often alcohol fuelled. If you find yourself in a situation which is causing you concern, the best advice is to take a test, this is especially important with Gonorrhoea which can be symptomless, so you may not even know that you are infected.”

The Confidante home use STI Test, available in pharmacies and online, is the only home use test which can detect up to 10 STIs in a single sample. It is simple to use, and allows you to take control of your sexual health from the privacy of your own home, giving you total peace of mind without the need to visit a GUM clinic.

Confidante and Randox is a PinkNews advertiser.