Web chat: Sexual health week 2016

Dawn Wilkinson

Join us on Friday 16 September 2016 between 12.30 and 13.30 for a live web chat with Dawn Wilkinson, consultant in genito-urinary and HIV medicine and senior nurse Naomi Goodhand, to mark the Family Planning Association's Sexual Health Week 2016. Dawn and Naomi will answer your questions and address some common misconceptions around sexual health. Both Dawn and Naomi work in our sexual health and HIV service, which is based in the Jefferiss Wing at St Mary's Hospital. 

Naomi Goodhand

Everyone, including patients, the public, GPs and other health workers is invited to submit questions anonymously.


You can submit your questions here from 12.00 on Friday 16 September, then Lucy will join us at 12.30 to get started. You're also welcome to email questions to web@imperial.nhs.uk or tweet your questions to @ImperialNHS.

You can also follow the chat through Twitter by following our Twitter handle @ImperialNHS and the hashtag #SHW16.

About our panellists

Dr Dawn Wilkinson FRCP, consultant in sexual health/HIV, has worked as a consultant at the Jefferiss Wing Centre for Sexual Health since 2003. Specialty interests include young people's sexual health, chairing British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) Adolescent Specialist Interest Group, and sexual reproductive health, as well as being a Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) faculty registered trainer (FRT).

Naomi Goodhand is a senior nurse in sexual health. He has worked in sexual health for over 20 years and her experience spans both community and level three genito-urinary medicine (GUM) services. She holds an MA with distinction in professional practice in health and social care (sexual health specialism) and is a BASHH Sexually Transmitted Infections Foundation (STIF) and FRT.

Dawn & Naomi: 
Dawn and Naomi have arrived - let's get started!
Comment From Guest 
Hello Dawn and Naomi
Dawn & Naomi: 
Hi there! We're here to answer your questions.
Comment From guest 
what's the most common sti?
Dawn & Naomi: 
Chlamydia is the most common STI - it affects 1 in 10 people under the age of 25. The majority of people don't have symptoms, so that's why we encourage people to get tested before they have sex with new partners. Testing is easy and doesn't require an examination - pop into your local clinic to get tested. Here are the hours for our clinic.
Comment From jane doe 
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine? I'm worried about having my daughter vaccinated.
Dawn & Naomi: 
NHS Choices has some really great information about the HPV vaccine: 'It's a safe vaccine and there are very few girls who aren't suitable for HPV vaccination. However, special precautions may need to be taken for girls with certain health conditions, or who have ever had a severe allergic reaction'
Dawn & Naomi: 
You can learn more here

Comment From anon 
My new bf hates condoms but i don't want to go without them. how can i convince him to use them?
Dawn & Naomi: 
There are lots of options when it comes to condoms, and many of them can be very pleasurable. It's important to explore lots of options together and find the condoms that are right for both of you. Freedoms Shop is a great NHS online retailer that offers discreet delivery and special sales. You can also get free condoms through sexual health services and some local condom distribution schemes.

Explore the reasons why he is against using condoms and emphasise why it is so important to use them - they protect both of you from infections and pregnancy. It is really important to have these kinds of conversations with your partners - if you're not happy to have sex without condoms, you should not be pressured into doing so. Both of you can go to your local sexual health clinic for further advice and helpful tips about using condom and staying safe.
Comment From Guest 
Why do I find it painful to have intercourse with my partner - could it be because I am getting on a bit (57). My partner is gorgeous by the way.
Dawn & Naomi: 
Sex can be painful for lots of reasons. Post-menopausal women may experience painful sex due to changing hormone levels that can leave the vagina dry. Sexually transmitted infections and thrush can also cause pain and discomfort. Men may also experience pain during sex due to swelling of the prostate or small tears in the foreskin, among other things. 

Regardless, it is important to get checked out and find the root cause of your pain. At the Jefferiss Wing we have specialist services to address these kinds of issues. Ask your GP to refer you - here are our clinic details

In the meantime, try some simple measures like water or silicone-based lubricating products to see if they help. Some women with vaginal dryness have found a product called Replens very helpful as well. NHS choices has a great page on this topic, too
Comment From guest 
my boyfriend has had herpes in the past - does this mean we have to use condoms forever. How do I minimise my risk of catching the virus
Dawn & Naomi: 
The fact that you and your partner are both aware of the virus will help protect you, as you are less likely to have sex before and during an outbreak. Some people have signs that they are about to have an outbreak, so you should avoid sex at this time. It's great that you are both being open about this topic! 

There are two types of herpes simplex virus. About 70 per cent of the population has type 1, and 30 per cent of the population has type 2. About 1 in 5 people who have the virus will have no symptoms. About 3 in 5 may have mild symptoms and may not even know they have the virus. And about 1 in 5 people will have symptoms with it. 

Condom use reduces transmission of the virus by 50 per cent. We know the virus can be passed on when you have no symptoms, but if he has not had an outbreak in a long time, he is less likely to transmit the virus. If your partner is experiencing frequent outbreaks, he should go to his GP or a sexual health clinic, because there are medications available that can help suppress outbreaks. If he is not having outbreaks, the chances of him passing it on to you are greatly reduced. 

The BASHH HSV patient information leaflet and the Herpes Viruses Association helpline (0845 123 2305) are also great resources. Go to www.herpes.org.uk for more information.

Comment From Del 
Should PEP be available free on the NHS?
Dawn & Naomi: 
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is free on the NHS. It can prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered a person's body if you start taking it within 72 hours of exposure - the sooner you start taking it, the more effective it is. You can get it through sexual health clinics and out-of-hours at your local A&E. You can read more about it here.

Comment From confused dad 
my 11 year old son is asking about masturbation what do I tell him
Dawn & Naomi: 
It's really great that your son is open about this - well done! 

It's important that he gets good information from reliable sources. 

Masturbation is a normal part of puberty and growing up into a young man. The conversation may change as he gets older, so it is important to use age-appropriate information. There are several great resources – these are some we would suggest: Your local library may have books that you can look at together. www.brook.org.uk is a great website with comprehensive information. 

The Family Planning Association is another great resource. This book is good for his age.

And this one would be appropriate for him as he gets older: 
Comment From Guest 
hi, is there any information about ureaplasma parvum/urealitycum??

Dawn & Naomi: 
BASHH has a great resource for information about ureaplasma and its association with urethral discharge. Here’s a few lines from the document:

‘Ureaplasmas have been inconsistently associated with non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU). Earlier studies did not differentiate between two species Ureaplasma urealyticum and U. parvum. There is increasing evidence that it is only U. urealyticum which is pathogenic in some men at least but not U. parvum. U. urealyticum may account for 5%–10% of cases of acute NGU.’
You can read more here

We currently do not routinely screen for ureaplasma in sexual health clinics in the UK.
Dawn & Naomi: 
That's all the time Dawn and Naomi have - thank you so much for participating! You can find more information about our sexual health and HIV services on our website.