Blog

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Many women worldwide take the combined pill as their main method of contraception. It is not only a reliable method of contraception when taken properly but has added benefits in helping with painful heavy periods and acne. Despite longer acting methods of contraception such as implants and intrauterine methods (“coils”) being more effective than the pill some women do not want to use these methods (which have to be fitted and removed by a healthcare professional) but choose to use the combined pill. These women should be helped to understand how the pill works and how they can take it to make it as effective and convenient for them as possible.

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The “pill” was developed back in the 1950s with the intent to mimic the natural female cycle. It was believed that women would want to have a monthly period so it was designed to be taken for 21 days followed by a 7 day break during which there would be a bleed. This regime is still the licensed or usual way to take the pill today but we now understand so much more about how it works and how we can make it work better for the women who use it.

It was first used in the USA in 1960 and it arrived on the scene in the UK in 1961. It is fair to say that it transformed many women’s lives and enabled the sexual revolution that then took place in the 60s. Women had the means to control their fertility (as long as they were married and had their husband’s permission but that is another story…). Over the decades the pill has evolved with lower doses and different combinations of hormones.  The low dose pills used today are safe and effective and are the only method of hormonal contraception which results in a regular predictable bleed pattern. This is one of the main advantages of the combined pill and probably why it remains so popular.

The bleed that occurs in the pill free break however is not a proper period. The natural cycle is switched off by the pill so women do not ovulate (release an egg) and the bleed at the end of each packet is nothing more than a hormone withdrawal bleed due to having stopped the pill. This bleed is not necessary for medical reasons and there are definite advantages in avoiding it.

Let’s look at how the pill works.  It takes seven days of pill taking to “switch off” the ovaries and stop ovulation occurring. During the 7 day pill free break at the end of each packet the dose of the pill in the body is reducing and the ovaries begin to “wake up” and by the end of the 7d break some women are very close to ovulating. In fact we know now that some women will release an egg the very next day if they do not restart their next packet on time. So in other words, the pill is at its weakest at the end of the break each month. This is why it is so important to start each packet on time and to never allow the break to become longer than seven days. This does not allow for much leeway though and it seems a little risky for this to potentially happen every month.

So why do we need a break at all? And why does it have to be 7 days?  Well, if the pill is taken continuously with no breaks it is very likely that the lining of the womb will thicken a little and start to shed randomly which will result in irregular spotting and bleeding. We call this break-through bleeding.  This is exactly what women using the combined pill do not want and do not have to put up with. But women can reduce the number of breaks they have or they can shorten the break to 4 days instead of 7 thereby reducing the potential number of risky times per year. This may therefore make the pill less likely to fail.

The other benefit is obvious- less bleeds. As said these bleeds are not proper periods, they do not serve any medical purpose and contrary to belief they cannot be taken to mean the woman is not pregnant. In fact women who become pregnant on the pill often still have a bleed in the pill free week and this can lull some women into a false sense of security. There are other myths too about the role of “pill periods”- some women worry about where the blood goes and feel the need to “flush” the womb. The truth is the lining of the womb does not thicken up when on the pill to the same extend as in a normal female cycle so therefore there is no blood to lose.

And surely it is worth saving money on tampons and pads? Particularly with VAT applied as it still is sadly (but that’s another story too….)

There is evidence that taking the pill in a continuous or extended way is very acceptable to women in terms of side effects being similar to those with the usual regime and some women find less trouble with headaches, bloating and period pain when taken this way.

The Faculty of Sexual health and Reproductive Healthcare supports the use of extended or continuous regimes. Although these regimes are unlicensed and  there is no evidence on the long term health effects of taking the pill in this way, based on how the pill works there is no evidence to suggest it could be harmful. It is recognised that some women like taking their pill in the usual way and if doing this works for them then they should continue.  If however they would like to skip bleeds and would like to reduce the chance of ovulation then these regimes can be tried:

  1. Run together packets. Women often do this to avoid periods on holiday and it is fine to do.For example, take 3 packets of pills (3x 21 tablets) in a row and then have a 4 day break. Some women can run more than 3 packets together before break through bleeding starts and some prefer to run together just 2 packets.

  2. Take the pill every day until break through bleeding occurs. If persistent spotting or bleeding occurs for 3days in a row take this as a sign that it is time for a break and then take a 4 day break. A break must not be taken more than once a month though.

These regimes are flexible and different women will find different regimes work best for them. Both allow women to take a planned break and have a bleed when convenient for them.

The important rules to remember are:

Never have more than one break a month and never take a break longer than 7 days (this is the licensed pill taking regime). Having less breaks and shorter breaks is fine.

And, if you miss pills then you should take at least 7 pills correctly before taking your next planned break.

Why not give it a go? Remember this only applies to combined pills, not progesterone only pills.

If you would like any further advice on this please given us a ring on 01392 284931 (Exeter) or 01271341569 (Barnstaple)

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Many women worldwide take the combined pill as their main method of contraception. It is not only a reliable method of contraception when taken properly but has added benefits in helping with painful heavy periods and acne. Despite longer acting methods of contraception such as implants and intrauterine methods (“coils”) being more effective than the pill some women do not want to use these methods (which have to be fitted and removed by a healthcare professional) but choose to use the combined pill. These women should be helped to understand how the pill works and how they can take it to make it as effective and convenient for them as possible.

The “pill” was developed back in the 1950s with the intent to mimic the natural female cycle. It was believed that women would want to have a monthly period so it was designed to be taken for 21 days followed by a 7 day break during which there would be a bleed. This regime is still the licensed or usual way to take the pill today but we now understand so much more about how it works and how we can make it work better for the women who use it.

It was first used in the USA in 1960 and it arrived on the scene in the UK in 1961. It is fair to say that it transformed many women’s lives and enabled the sexual revolution that then took place in the 60s. Women had the means to control their fertility (as long as they were married and had their husband’s permission but that is another story…). Over the decades the pill has evolved with lower doses and different combinations of hormones.  The low dose pills used today are safe and effective and are the only method of hormonal contraception which results in a regular predictable bleed pattern. This is one of the main advantages of the combined pill and probably why it remains so popular.

The bleed that occurs in the pill free break however is not a proper period. The natural cycle is switched off by the pill so women do not ovulate (release an egg) and the bleed at the end of each packet is nothing more than a hormone withdrawal bleed due to having stopped the pill. This bleed is not necessary for medical reasons and there are definite advantages in avoiding it.

Let’s look at how the pill works.  It takes seven days of pill taking to “switch off” the ovaries and stop ovulation occurring. During the 7 day pill free break at the end of each packet the dose of the pill in the body is reducing and the ovaries begin to “wake up” and by the end of the 7d break some women are very close to ovulating. In fact we know now that some women will release an egg the very next day if they do not restart their next packet on time. So in other words, the pill is at its weakest at the end of the break each month. This is why it is so important to start each packet on time and to never allow the break to become longer than seven days. This does not allow for much leeway though and it seems a little risky for this to potentially happen every month.

So why do we need a break at all? And why does it have to be 7 days?  Well, if the pill is taken continuously with no breaks it is very likely that the lining of the womb will thicken a little and start to shed randomly which will result in irregular spotting and bleeding. We call this break-through bleeding.  This is exactly what women using the combined pill do not want and do not have to put up with. But women can reduce the number of breaks they have or they can shorten the break to 4 days instead of 7 thereby reducing the potential number of risky times per year. This may therefore make the pill less likely to fail.

The other benefit is obvious- less bleeds. As said these bleeds are not proper periods, they do not serve any medical purpose and contrary to belief they cannot be taken to mean the woman is not pregnant. In fact women who become pregnant on the pill often still have a bleed in the pill free week and this can lull some women into a false sense of security. There are other myths too about the role of “pill periods”- some women worry about where the blood goes and feel the need to “flush” the womb. The truth is the lining of the womb does not thicken up when on the pill to the same extend as in a normal female cycle so therefore there is no blood to lose.

And surely it is worth saving money on tampons and pads? Particularly with VAT applied as it still is sadly (but that’s another story too….)

There is evidence that taking the pill in a continuous or extended way is very acceptable to women in terms of side effects being similar to those with the usual regime and some women find less trouble with headaches, bloating and period pain when taken this way.

The Faculty of Sexual health and Reproductive Healthcare supports the use of extended or continuous regimes. Although these regimes are unlicensed and  there is no evidence on the long term health effects of taking the pill in this way, based on how the pill works there is no evidence to suggest it could be harmful. It is recognised that some women like taking their pill in the usual way and if doing this works for them then they should continue.  If however they would like to skip bleeds and would like to reduce the chance of ovulation then these regimes can be tried:

  1. Run together packets. Women often do this to avoid periods on holiday and it is fine to do.For example, take 3 packets of pills (3x 21 tablets) in a row and then have a 4 day break. Some women can run more than 3 packets together before break through bleeding starts and some prefer to run together just 2 packets.

  2. Take the pill every day until break through bleeding occurs. If persistent spotting or bleeding occurs for 3days in a row take this as a sign that it is time for a break and then take a 4 day break. A break must not be taken more than once a month though.

These regimes are flexible and different women will find different regimes work best for them. Both allow women to take a planned break and have a bleed when convenient for them.

The important rules to remember are:

Never have more than one break a month and never take a break longer than 7 days (this is the licensed pill taking regime). Having less breaks and shorter breaks is fine.

And, if you miss pills then you should take at least 7 pills correctly before taking your next planned break.

Why not give it a go? Remember this only applies to combined pills, not progesterone only pills.

If you would like any further advice on this please given us a ring on 01392 284931 (Exeter) or 01271341569 (Barnstaple)

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September 26th is world Contraception day. So what better time to look at the past, present and future of contraception?

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PAST

The first recorded use of a condom was the female condom: in Greek mythology King Minos of Crete’s wife, Pasiphae used a goat's bladder in her vagina so that King Minos would not be able to harm her with his semen which contained “scorpions and serpents”! Ancient Egyptians were believed to have different coloured condoms (depending on their social class) made of linen to protect them from diseases, and Ancient Romans used the bladders of animals to protect against sexually transmitted infections.

During the English Civil war in the 1640s sheaths of fish, cattle and sheep intestine were used to protect the soldiers from contracting syphilis and when King Charles the second became worried about how many illegitimate children he had, his doctor prescribed a sheath made of lamb intestine. That doctor was known as Colonel Condom, and may be the origin of the name today.

In the 1920s, latex was invented and latex condoms became popular. These remained the main form of contraception until the 1960s when the first contraceptive pills became available, having been developed in America in the 1950s. At that time they were only freely available for married women in the UK who often had to produce their marriage certificate and have their husband’s consent!. There was still some shame associated with taking the pill, and so it was developed to give women a monthly bleed to simulate a normal period to disguise the fact they were taking the pill.

PRESENT

Today we have 15 methods of contraception available in the UK on the NHS. All of these, apart from male and female sterilisation, are available at our clinics. These include both hormonal and nonhormonal methods, long and short acting methods, self administered injections, implants, coils, pills and of course the good old condom! Some have additional benefits such as making periods lighter or helping with premenstrual symptoms. You might like to look at the contraception tool on our website to find out the best method for you.

FUTURE

So what does the future hold? There are several products in the pipeline. The male pill is proving difficult to develop, an injection has been produced but causes too many side effects, and it looks like a nasal spray may be the best option. There are newer ‘coils’ coming on the market made of a ‘memory’ alloy wire which can be inserted into the womb as a single long wire and which then form a ball shape in the womb. There are vaginal rings which can release different hormones into the vagina and one which can also release an anti-HIV drug. Finally in the longer term we may have computer chips which can be inserted under the skin for many years and release a hormone which can be turned on and off, by remote control, throughout the person’s reproductive life.

So whilst no method is perfect, there is a lot to celebrate about contraception now and in the future. For more information about all the methods available in the UK visit our website.

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September 26th is world Contraception day. So what better time to look at the past, present and future of contraception?

PAST

The first recorded use of a condom was the female condom: in Greek mythology King Minos of Crete’s wife, Pasiphae used a goat's bladder in her vagina so that King Minos would not be able to harm her with his semen which contained “scorpions and serpents”! Ancient Egyptians were believed to have different coloured condoms (depending on their social class) made of linen to protect them from diseases, and Ancient Romans used the bladders of animals to protect against sexually transmitted infections.

During the English Civil war in the 1640s sheaths of fish, cattle and sheep intestine were used to protect the soldiers from contracting syphilis and when King Charles the second became worried about how many illegitimate children he had, his doctor prescribed a sheath made of lamb intestine. That doctor was known as Colonel Condom, and may be the origin of the name today.

In the 1920s, latex was invented and latex condoms became popular. These remained the main form of contraception until the 1960s when the first contraceptive pills became available, having been developed in America in the 1950s. At that time they were only freely available for married women in the UK who often had to produce their marriage certificate and have their husband’s consent!. There was still some shame associated with taking the pill, and so it was developed to give women a monthly bleed to simulate a normal period to disguise the fact they were taking the pill.

PRESENT

Today we have 15 methods of contraception available in the UK on the NHS. All of these, apart from male and female sterilisation, are available at our clinics. These include both hormonal and nonhormonal methods, long and short acting methods, self administered injections, implants, coils, pills and of course the good old condom! Some have additional benefits such as making periods lighter or helping with premenstrual symptoms. You might like to look at the contraception tool on our website to find out the best method for you.

FUTURE

So what does the future hold? There are several products in the pipeline. The male pill is proving difficult to develop, an injection has been produced but causes too many side effects, and it looks like a nasal spray may be the best option. There are newer ‘coils’ coming on the market made of a ‘memory’ alloy wire which can be inserted into the womb as a single long wire and which then form a ball shape in the womb. There are vaginal rings which can release different hormones into the vagina and one which can also release an anti-HIV drug. Finally in the longer term we may have computer chips which can be inserted under the skin for many years and release a hormone which can be turned on and off, by remote control, throughout the person’s reproductive life.

So whilst no method is perfect, there is a lot to celebrate about contraception now and in the future. For more information about all the methods available in the UK visit our website.

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When patients attend the Centre Clinic for STI testing, we ask lots of questions in order to assess what tests we need to do and how accurate the tests will be. Some of these questions also give us idea about other health information we can provide to individuals, in terms of keeping safe in the future. As part of a normal sexual history, one of the questions we aim to ask all patients attending the clinic is whether they are currently, or have ever worked in the sex industry – whether this is as a sex worker, a film star in adult film industry, or any other role that involves sexual services in exchange for payment.

 

" ["fulltext"]=> string(4324) "

We know that some people do not feel comfortable disclosing this to us: perhaps due to fear of embarrassment, or worries they will be judged; or maybe because they have concerns about confidentiality? Does it make a difference to the care received if an individual tells us that this is something they do?

For all sex workers, the most important aspect of the job is staying safe. We feel an important aspect of our role is helping individuals to do this. When patients who work in the sex industry attend our service, we can offer additional swabs: for example throat and rectal swabs, and also testing for all blood-bourne viruses. We also offer vaccinations for Hepatitis B, which is a viral infection unusual in local residents in the Devon area, where the majority of our patients live; however, sex workers are statistically more likely to come in contact with this infection, due to the higher numbers of sexual contacts they have, and contacts from endemic areas for Hepatitis B.

We recommend regular screening for sex workers: normally at least 3-monthly, but possibly more or  less frequently, depending on the amount of work someone is doing. We can send reminder texts to patients registered with our clinic, letting people know when they should next book an appointment, or when booster vaccinations, or follow-up testing is due. 

The Health Advisers in our service now link with Ugly Mugs. Ugly Mugs is a national organisation that aims to try and protect sex workers from dangerous sexual predators, often serial offenders. Ugly Mugs do this by taking reports and information about individuals and sharing these details with front line sex workers, organisations working with sex workers (such as clinics like ours), and where possible, the police; so that perpetrators can be identified, arrested and convicted. We recommend that all sex workers become aware of the Ugly Mugs organisation and register as a member, in order to receive safety alerts and be able to report offenders. Membership is free and you can register via the link above.  It’s important to recognize trouble before services are offered to a punter. Helpful descriptions of difficult or dangerous punters, particularly the verbal approaches that they use and the numbers they call from, can be shared easily amongst others who work locally and/or nationally, to make sure sex workers know to decline an approach before putting themselves at risk. The Ugly Mugs scheme allows this information sharing to happen quickly and easily to help other workers. We recommend checking the site (an app is available here for Android or Apple) before starting work. This is especially important for street workers.

We also recommend sex workers are aware of the SAAFE website (Support And Advice For Escorts). This is a brilliant resource, which was originally set up by a group of women, who happen to get paid to spend time with other adults in a consensual manner.  The website includes information for those new and experienced in sex work, a chat forum, sections for clinics and projects to post information about their services; even a guide how to advertise services, pay taxes and keep safe.

Patients who do disclose to us about their experiences in sex work cross a broad range of spectrums: there is no specific age, gender, social demographic or ‘type’ of person who talks to us about their sex work experiences. Whatever an individual’s circumstances, staff working in our clinic are non-judgemental and supportive. Our service here is confidential and we do not share patient notes or results with other services, including GPs, without permission; unless someone was at risk of serious harm.

Finally, we appreciate feedback about our services: if you have any comments about how we can improve the service we offer, we want to hear your thoughts.

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When patients attend the Centre Clinic for STI testing, we ask lots of questions in order to assess what tests we need to do and how accurate the tests will be. Some of these questions also give us idea about other health information we can provide to individuals, in terms of keeping safe in the future. As part of a normal sexual history, one of the questions we aim to ask all patients attending the clinic is whether they are currently, or have ever worked in the sex industry – whether this is as a sex worker, a film star in adult film industry, or any other role that involves sexual services in exchange for payment.

 

We know that some people do not feel comfortable disclosing this to us: perhaps due to fear of embarrassment, or worries they will be judged; or maybe because they have concerns about confidentiality? Does it make a difference to the care received if an individual tells us that this is something they do?

For all sex workers, the most important aspect of the job is staying safe. We feel an important aspect of our role is helping individuals to do this. When patients who work in the sex industry attend our service, we can offer additional swabs: for example throat and rectal swabs, and also testing for all blood-bourne viruses. We also offer vaccinations for Hepatitis B, which is a viral infection unusual in local residents in the Devon area, where the majority of our patients live; however, sex workers are statistically more likely to come in contact with this infection, due to the higher numbers of sexual contacts they have, and contacts from endemic areas for Hepatitis B.

We recommend regular screening for sex workers: normally at least 3-monthly, but possibly more or  less frequently, depending on the amount of work someone is doing. We can send reminder texts to patients registered with our clinic, letting people know when they should next book an appointment, or when booster vaccinations, or follow-up testing is due. 

The Health Advisers in our service now link with Ugly Mugs. Ugly Mugs is a national organisation that aims to try and protect sex workers from dangerous sexual predators, often serial offenders. Ugly Mugs do this by taking reports and information about individuals and sharing these details with front line sex workers, organisations working with sex workers (such as clinics like ours), and where possible, the police; so that perpetrators can be identified, arrested and convicted. We recommend that all sex workers become aware of the Ugly Mugs organisation and register as a member, in order to receive safety alerts and be able to report offenders. Membership is free and you can register via the link above.  It’s important to recognize trouble before services are offered to a punter. Helpful descriptions of difficult or dangerous punters, particularly the verbal approaches that they use and the numbers they call from, can be shared easily amongst others who work locally and/or nationally, to make sure sex workers know to decline an approach before putting themselves at risk. The Ugly Mugs scheme allows this information sharing to happen quickly and easily to help other workers. We recommend checking the site (an app is available here for Android or Apple) before starting work. This is especially important for street workers.

We also recommend sex workers are aware of the SAAFE website (Support And Advice For Escorts). This is a brilliant resource, which was originally set up by a group of women, who happen to get paid to spend time with other adults in a consensual manner.  The website includes information for those new and experienced in sex work, a chat forum, sections for clinics and projects to post information about their services; even a guide how to advertise services, pay taxes and keep safe.

Patients who do disclose to us about their experiences in sex work cross a broad range of spectrums: there is no specific age, gender, social demographic or ‘type’ of person who talks to us about their sex work experiences. Whatever an individual’s circumstances, staff working in our clinic are non-judgemental and supportive. Our service here is confidential and we do not share patient notes or results with other services, including GPs, without permission; unless someone was at risk of serious harm.

Finally, we appreciate feedback about our services: if you have any comments about how we can improve the service we offer, we want to hear your thoughts.

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Accidents happen and things don’t always go to plan. Over 50 % of pregnancies in the UK are unplanned too. Unfortunately the contraceptive methods used most widely in the UK, the pill and condom do not always work that well, condoms split and pills can be forgotten. And sometimes we just forget about contraception altogether until it is too late.

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Unfortunately the contraceptive methods used most widely in the UK, the pill and condom do not always work that well, condoms split and pills can be forgotten. And sometimes we just forget about contraception altogether until it is too late. But Emergency contraception can prevent you from becoming pregnant if you have had unprotected sex or you think your contraceptive method may not have worked. It can be used by anyone of any age who is at risk of becoming pregnant.

A pregnancy starts when a fertilised egg implants in the lining of the womb. It takes at least 5d for this to happen after an episode of unprotected sex. Emergency contraception is designed to stop an egg from being fertilised and to prevent an egg from implanting in the lining of the womb and it works because we have at least 5 days to stop this process.

But the sooner you use emergency contraception the more likely it is to work so don’t delay! 

There are 3 types of emergency contraception, the copper IUD - or coil as it’s sometimes called and 2 types of emergency contraceptive pills – sometimes referred to as the “morning after pill”.

The most effective method of emergency contraception is the copper IUD. It prevents a pregnancy by stopping the egg implanting in the lining of the womb. It is a small device that is fitted into the womb. It can be fitted up to 5 days or sometimes longer after unprotected sex and has a 99% chance of preventing a pregnancy. 

It can be used as an on-going method of contraception too for up to 5-10 years which is an added bonus and it will start working as a contraceptive immediately. To arrange a fitting you should call us or drop in to the Centre as soon as possible to ensure it can be fitted in time. We can fit IUDs routinely Monday to Friday.Some GPs fit IUDs too.

There are 2 types of emergency contraception pills – Levonogestrel- often called Levonelle and EllaOne. 

Both work by preventing or delaying ovulation which is the release of an egg from the ovaries. Once an egg has been released it can be fertilised if sperm are present and waiting.

So, if you have already ovulated or are very near the point of ovulating neither of the emergency pills will work. 

It is important therefore to take the emergency pill as quickly as possible after unprotected sex to give it the best possible chance of working. 

If you have already taken the emergency pill but are keen to have an IUD you may still be able to have this fitted. In fact we advise you to take the emergency pill anyway as soon as possible, even if planning to have an IUD fitted just in case we are unable to fit the IUD or you change your mind. 

Emergency pills are available from Sexual Health clinics like ours, GPs, Pharmacies, and walk in centres/A&E. Emergency contraception is free of charge on the NHS although you may have to pay for it at some pharmacies depending on which pharmacy you use and how old you are. Have a look at our website for more information.

Emergency contraceptive pills are not as reliable as regular methods of contraception, such as the implant, pills, injection or intrauterine devices (coils) and should not be relied on other than for emergencies. You can still become pregnant from unprotected sex later in the same cycle too even if you have taken the emergency pill.

So, if you use the emergency contraceptive pill it is a good idea to start a reliable method of contraception immediately after taking levonogestrel and 5 days after taking ellaOne.  We call this quick starting. 

It is important to check you are not pregnant after taking emergency contraception. We recommend a pregnancy test 3 weeks later as periods are not always regular afterwards and if you quick start a reliable method your periods will be changed too. Neither emergency pill will harm a pregnancy though if you do become pregnant. 

And don’t forget to have an STI screen if you have had sex with someone new. 

If you are unsure whether you need emergency contraception or not, phone our nurse help line on 01392 284931 (Exeter) or 01271 341569 (Barnstaple) for advice as soon as possible. Someone will call you back within a short time and advise you what to do. Alternatively come to in to The Centre and say you might need emergency contraception as soon as you can.  See our opening times on the website.

And remember you can get emergency pills from walk in centres, pharmacies and GPs. 

So seek help and do something about it now. Please don’t delay. Crossing your fingers will not work.

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Accidents happen and things don’t always go to plan. Over 50 % of pregnancies in the UK are unplanned too. Unfortunately the contraceptive methods used most widely in the UK, the pill and condom do not always work that well, condoms split and pills can be forgotten. And sometimes we just forget about contraception altogether until it is too late.

Unfortunately the contraceptive methods used most widely in the UK, the pill and condom do not always work that well, condoms split and pills can be forgotten. And sometimes we just forget about contraception altogether until it is too late. But Emergency contraception can prevent you from becoming pregnant if you have had unprotected sex or you think your contraceptive method may not have worked. It can be used by anyone of any age who is at risk of becoming pregnant.

A pregnancy starts when a fertilised egg implants in the lining of the womb. It takes at least 5d for this to happen after an episode of unprotected sex. Emergency contraception is designed to stop an egg from being fertilised and to prevent an egg from implanting in the lining of the womb and it works because we have at least 5 days to stop this process.

But the sooner you use emergency contraception the more likely it is to work so don’t delay! 

There are 3 types of emergency contraception, the copper IUD - or coil as it’s sometimes called and 2 types of emergency contraceptive pills – sometimes referred to as the “morning after pill”.

The most effective method of emergency contraception is the copper IUD. It prevents a pregnancy by stopping the egg implanting in the lining of the womb. It is a small device that is fitted into the womb. It can be fitted up to 5 days or sometimes longer after unprotected sex and has a 99% chance of preventing a pregnancy. 

It can be used as an on-going method of contraception too for up to 5-10 years which is an added bonus and it will start working as a contraceptive immediately. To arrange a fitting you should call us or drop in to the Centre as soon as possible to ensure it can be fitted in time. We can fit IUDs routinely Monday to Friday.Some GPs fit IUDs too.

There are 2 types of emergency contraception pills – Levonogestrel- often called Levonelle and EllaOne. 

Both work by preventing or delaying ovulation which is the release of an egg from the ovaries. Once an egg has been released it can be fertilised if sperm are present and waiting.

So, if you have already ovulated or are very near the point of ovulating neither of the emergency pills will work. 

It is important therefore to take the emergency pill as quickly as possible after unprotected sex to give it the best possible chance of working. 

If you have already taken the emergency pill but are keen to have an IUD you may still be able to have this fitted. In fact we advise you to take the emergency pill anyway as soon as possible, even if planning to have an IUD fitted just in case we are unable to fit the IUD or you change your mind. 

Emergency pills are available from Sexual Health clinics like ours, GPs, Pharmacies, and walk in centres/A&E. Emergency contraception is free of charge on the NHS although you may have to pay for it at some pharmacies depending on which pharmacy you use and how old you are. Have a look at our website for more information.

Emergency contraceptive pills are not as reliable as regular methods of contraception, such as the implant, pills, injection or intrauterine devices (coils) and should not be relied on other than for emergencies. You can still become pregnant from unprotected sex later in the same cycle too even if you have taken the emergency pill.

So, if you use the emergency contraceptive pill it is a good idea to start a reliable method of contraception immediately after taking levonogestrel and 5 days after taking ellaOne.  We call this quick starting. 

It is important to check you are not pregnant after taking emergency contraception. We recommend a pregnancy test 3 weeks later as periods are not always regular afterwards and if you quick start a reliable method your periods will be changed too. Neither emergency pill will harm a pregnancy though if you do become pregnant. 

And don’t forget to have an STI screen if you have had sex with someone new. 

If you are unsure whether you need emergency contraception or not, phone our nurse help line on 01392 284931 (Exeter) or 01271 341569 (Barnstaple) for advice as soon as possible. Someone will call you back within a short time and advise you what to do. Alternatively come to in to The Centre and say you might need emergency contraception as soon as you can.  See our opening times on the website.

And remember you can get emergency pills from walk in centres, pharmacies and GPs. 

So seek help and do something about it now. Please don’t delay. Crossing your fingers will not work.

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In recent years there has been an increasing number of ways for people all across the UK to access tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at home. This has been driven on the back of the successes of the National Chlamydia Screening programme which has been working since 2003 to diagnose young people (aged 16-24) with chlamydia, often through testing in community settings or at home through a postal kit.

  • When thinking about testing at home there are a few important things to consider. We would always suggest that you look at who is providing this service to you:
  • Are they an NHS-associated service (this will usually mean that tests are free)?
  • What are the tests being offered? Is this different to what you would be offered in a clinic, and if so why (discussed later on)?
  • How will the tests be performed?
  • How will you get your results? Is there any advice about how the service would manage giving you a positive result? Or how would you feel if you get a positive result on a test in front of you: would you be prepared for this and would you know what to do next with the knowledge that you have an infection?

There is also a key distinction to consider when reading about these tests and that is the difference between “home testing” and “home sampling”:

  • Home sampling is where you take the swabs / pee test / fingerprick blood test at home, and then the samples away for testing with the results sent back to you at a later date
  • Home testing is where you take the tests yourself at home, with the result available to you from the testing kit in front of you without having to send it away – usually within 30 minutes.

To think further about this we wanted to see the current testing kits offered to patients in Devon. What better way than to utilise the number one source of readily available information – Google search! We searched “home test for STIs” and reviewed the top 10 search results, and associated paid advertisements, returned by Google search to see what was on offer:

  • Initially 4 paid adverts came up from companies offering home sampling tests for a range of STIs – only one of these companies, Preventx, is supported by the NHS to provide home sampling for STI testing
  • These testing kits range in price from £27.99 to £240
  • The more expensive kits available on these websites offer testing for infections which we currently don’t test for within the service (e.g Gardnerella, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma). This is not because we don’t want to know about these infections, rather insufficient research has been done into not only the tests, but also the infections the tests are looking for: We don’t know whether diagnosing these infections would be helpful to patients – particularly patients without symptoms.
  • The Top 10 search results contained 5 results for NHS-associated websites which either offered testing to Devon residents, or directed people to local services which could help them access testing. This would be our recommended route for anyone looking for testing who doesn’t currently want to come in to see us in clinic.
  • The other five Top 10 search results were private companies offering home sampling for STIs with a range of prices depending on the number of different infections you wished to be tested for. We would recommend against using these services as you may often be over-charged for tests which may not beneficial for your sexual health. There is also little/no provision from these services to advise you correctly about treatment and discussing the infection with your sexual partners – you’ll probably then be asked to come and see us anyway!

 There has also been a recent warning about some of the tests used by non-NHS providers, so if you do choose to test at home, please take note: 

 The absolute key to the service we offer to patients at the Centre is a thorough chat through your medical, social and sexual history to work out which tests are appropriate for you. This chat is always non-judgemental, confidential and considerate of the full range of sexual health needs that you have. The testing we offer here is also free-of-charge and quickly returns reliable results, sometimes on the same day. We therefore would always recommend that testing in an NHS sexual health clinic provides a superior bespoke service, compared to testing at home. If you do wish to test at home we would recommend ensuring that it is an NHS-approved service, offering testing free of charge with a reliable description of how you would receive your results. 

Further information on the National Chlamydia Screening Programme is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-chlamydia-screening-programme-ncsp#history

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In recent years there has been an increasing number of ways for people all across the UK to access tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at home. This has been driven on the back of the successes of the National Chlamydia Screening programme which has been working since 2003 to diagnose young people (aged 16-24) with chlamydia, often through testing in community settings or at home through a postal kit.

  • When thinking about testing at home there are a few important things to consider. We would always suggest that you look at who is providing this service to you:
  • Are they an NHS-associated service (this will usually mean that tests are free)?
  • What are the tests being offered? Is this different to what you would be offered in a clinic, and if so why (discussed later on)?
  • How will the tests be performed?
  • How will you get your results? Is there any advice about how the service would manage giving you a positive result? Or how would you feel if you get a positive result on a test in front of you: would you be prepared for this and would you know what to do next with the knowledge that you have an infection?

There is also a key distinction to consider when reading about these tests and that is the difference between “home testing” and “home sampling”:

  • Home sampling is where you take the swabs / pee test / fingerprick blood test at home, and then the samples away for testing with the results sent back to you at a later date
  • Home testing is where you take the tests yourself at home, with the result available to you from the testing kit in front of you without having to send it away – usually within 30 minutes.

To think further about this we wanted to see the current testing kits offered to patients in Devon. What better way than to utilise the number one source of readily available information – Google search! We searched “home test for STIs” and reviewed the top 10 search results, and associated paid advertisements, returned by Google search to see what was on offer:

  • Initially 4 paid adverts came up from companies offering home sampling tests for a range of STIs – only one of these companies, Preventx, is supported by the NHS to provide home sampling for STI testing
  • These testing kits range in price from £27.99 to £240
  • The more expensive kits available on these websites offer testing for infections which we currently don’t test for within the service (e.g Gardnerella, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma). This is not because we don’t want to know about these infections, rather insufficient research has been done into not only the tests, but also the infections the tests are looking for: We don’t know whether diagnosing these infections would be helpful to patients – particularly patients without symptoms.
  • The Top 10 search results contained 5 results for NHS-associated websites which either offered testing to Devon residents, or directed people to local services which could help them access testing. This would be our recommended route for anyone looking for testing who doesn’t currently want to come in to see us in clinic.
  • The other five Top 10 search results were private companies offering home sampling for STIs with a range of prices depending on the number of different infections you wished to be tested for. We would recommend against using these services as you may often be over-charged for tests which may not beneficial for your sexual health. There is also little/no provision from these services to advise you correctly about treatment and discussing the infection with your sexual partners – you’ll probably then be asked to come and see us anyway!

 There has also been a recent warning about some of the tests used by non-NHS providers, so if you do choose to test at home, please take note: 

 The absolute key to the service we offer to patients at the Centre is a thorough chat through your medical, social and sexual history to work out which tests are appropriate for you. This chat is always non-judgemental, confidential and considerate of the full range of sexual health needs that you have. The testing we offer here is also free-of-charge and quickly returns reliable results, sometimes on the same day. We therefore would always recommend that testing in an NHS sexual health clinic provides a superior bespoke service, compared to testing at home. If you do wish to test at home we would recommend ensuring that it is an NHS-approved service, offering testing free of charge with a reliable description of how you would receive your results. 

Further information on the National Chlamydia Screening Programme is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-chlamydia-screening-programme-ncsp#history

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Our glorious British summertime is well and truly underway with festivals planned throughout August and a festival wouldn’t be a festival without a little rain. But don’t get caught out, and we’re not just talking about the weather. Wellies shouldn’t be the only rubber you pack in your backpack!

Condoms are the best protection against STIs and a quick visit to one of our clinics can help you to keep sexually healthy and happy. We offer free condoms, lube and protection against unwanted pregnancy including pills, patches, rings and longer acting methods of contraception so you can keep focused on the music and the fun of the festival. 

If you're going to Leeds or Reading Festival this weekend look out for the Welfare Tent open 24 hours a day and offering sexual health, drug, alcohol and legal high advice. If you are planning on going to an event locally in Devon check out the link below for a list of local pharmacies that offer emergency contraception free to people under the age of 24.

Click here for list of pharmacies

The summer is all about partying. But it’s super important to stay alert, look out for your mates and keep one step ahead of the game. And if things don't go as planned come and see us for advice and help. Have a look at the useful information on our website or give us a call.

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Our glorious British summertime is well and truly underway with festivals planned throughout August and a festival wouldn’t be a festival without a little rain. But don’t get caught out, and we’re not just talking about the weather. Wellies shouldn’t be the only rubber you pack in your backpack!

Condoms are the best protection against STIs and a quick visit to one of our clinics can help you to keep sexually healthy and happy. We offer free condoms, lube and protection against unwanted pregnancy including pills, patches, rings and longer acting methods of contraception so you can keep focused on the music and the fun of the festival. 

If you're going to Leeds or Reading Festival this weekend look out for the Welfare Tent open 24 hours a day and offering sexual health, drug, alcohol and legal high advice. If you are planning on going to an event locally in Devon check out the link below for a list of local pharmacies that offer emergency contraception free to people under the age of 24.

Click here for list of pharmacies

The summer is all about partying. But it’s super important to stay alert, look out for your mates and keep one step ahead of the game. And if things don't go as planned come and see us for advice and help. Have a look at the useful information on our website or give us a call.

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Did you know there are 15 methods of contraception available free of charge from our service? This includes four long-acting reversible methods (LARCs) which do not rely on you taking them every day or using every time you have sex. There is even a long- acting injection which you can administer yourself at home!  However there are even more myths and misconceptions about contraception, it can be quite confusing. Here is a list of 12 common myths along with the facts.

" ["fulltext"]=> string(5683) "

Myth 1: If your partner withdraws you won’t get pregnant

There has been a lot in the news lately about this so-called withdrawal method. However this can leave the woman at risk of pregnancy because when a man is sexually excited clear fluid, sometimes called pre-cum, is released from his penis before he ejaculates. This pre-cum contains sperm and so withdrawal can still lead to pregnancy.

Myth 2: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex standing up

Sperm are amazing athletes and can swim easily against gravity, so if you don’t use contraception it is possible to get pregnant whatever position you have sex in, however flexible you may be!

Myth 3: Two condoms are better than one

Unfortunately you can’t improve your protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by using more than one condom at a time. In fact the condom is more likely to split or come off if you do this.

Myth 4: You can’t get pregnant if you go to the loo or wash straight after sex

Again this does not work because the sperm are such great swimmers they are already well on their way by the time a woman has got to the loo. People have tried all sorts of concoctions in the vagina after sex like squirting cola drink up there! None of these have been found to help and might just cause a bit of discomfort and a funny smell!!

Myth 5: You can’t get pregnant if it is you first time

When a sperm and an egg meet you can get pregnant, your first time or your thousandth time it doesn’t matter. Remember young people are often very fertile too and so can get pregnant very easily. It is even possible for a young woman to get pregnant before her first period because the egg is released before a period comes.

Myth 6: Contraception makes you put on weight

There is no evidence that contraception makes you put on weight, apart from some limited evidence to suggest some people put on weight with the injection. However some women also lose weight on the injection and it is best to discuss what is right for you with your doctor or at our Sexual health service

Myth 7: You need to take a break from your pill every now and then

Women used to be told they needed a break from their pill, when the amount of hormone in the pill was much higher than today, and less research had been done. Nowadays we say it is safe to stay on the pill at least up to 50 years, and if you don’t want to bleed you do not need to take a break every month either. It is worth chatting to a doctor or nurse about this to find out what is best for you as an individual.

Myth 8: Long term use of contraception can make you infertile

The only permanent method of contraception is sterilisation. With the other methods you can get pregnant straight away or after a short delay, but you will eventually get your cycle back. You can get pregnant the day an injection is late, however it can take up to a year to get fertility back, so discuss your plans with your doctor or nurse so you can find the best method for you.

Myth 9: Emergency contraception must be taken the morning after unprotected sex

There are three methods of emergency contraception: two pills and an Intrauterine device (IUD). The pills work best when taken as soon as possible but may be given 3-5 days after unprotected sex depending which pill it is. The IUD may be fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex and sometimes it can be fitted later. This is the best method of emergency contraception and for more details on all three methods and how to get them visit our website.http://thecentresexualhealth.org/services/contraception 

Myth 10: You can use baby lotion on condoms if you don’t have any lube

Any oil based lubricant will rot a latex condom. Try it for yourself: blow up a condom and then rub baby lotion on it and wait for the pop! We supply free water based lube at all our clinics along with condoms of different shapes and sizes.  http://thecentresexualhealth.org/clinics 

Myth 11: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex during your period

Many people believe this to be true, however it is not a reliable method, because not only are sperm athletic, they can also live up to 7 days! Also menstrual cycles can be very irregular and it is not always easy to know when a woman will ovulate. So it is possible to get pregnant if you have sex during your period.

Myth 12: It is Ok to re-use a condom if you haven’t got a new one

This is not a good idea! Apart from being very messy they can leak sperm and cause an unwanted pregnancy. So make sure you have plenty of supplies handy. Free condoms are available in all of our clinics.

For more information on all of these methods of contraception including side effects go to our website http://thecentresexualhealth.org/services/contraception or come along to our drop-in or booked clinics. At The Centre we hope to give you advice and information in a friendly non-judgmental way. We are confidential, specialist service and you do not need to be referred by your GP. No question is too stupid!  

We look forward to seeing you and maybe busting some more myths.

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Did you know there are 15 methods of contraception available free of charge from our service? This includes four long-acting reversible methods (LARCs) which do not rely on you taking them every day or using every time you have sex. There is even a long- acting injection which you can administer yourself at home!  However there are even more myths and misconceptions about contraception, it can be quite confusing. Here is a list of 12 common myths along with the facts.

Myth 1: If your partner withdraws you won’t get pregnant

There has been a lot in the news lately about this so-called withdrawal method. However this can leave the woman at risk of pregnancy because when a man is sexually excited clear fluid, sometimes called pre-cum, is released from his penis before he ejaculates. This pre-cum contains sperm and so withdrawal can still lead to pregnancy.

Myth 2: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex standing up

Sperm are amazing athletes and can swim easily against gravity, so if you don’t use contraception it is possible to get pregnant whatever position you have sex in, however flexible you may be!

Myth 3: Two condoms are better than one

Unfortunately you can’t improve your protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by using more than one condom at a time. In fact the condom is more likely to split or come off if you do this.

Myth 4: You can’t get pregnant if you go to the loo or wash straight after sex

Again this does not work because the sperm are such great swimmers they are already well on their way by the time a woman has got to the loo. People have tried all sorts of concoctions in the vagina after sex like squirting cola drink up there! None of these have been found to help and might just cause a bit of discomfort and a funny smell!!

Myth 5: You can’t get pregnant if it is you first time

When a sperm and an egg meet you can get pregnant, your first time or your thousandth time it doesn’t matter. Remember young people are often very fertile too and so can get pregnant very easily. It is even possible for a young woman to get pregnant before her first period because the egg is released before a period comes.

Myth 6: Contraception makes you put on weight

There is no evidence that contraception makes you put on weight, apart from some limited evidence to suggest some people put on weight with the injection. However some women also lose weight on the injection and it is best to discuss what is right for you with your doctor or at our Sexual health service

Myth 7: You need to take a break from your pill every now and then

Women used to be told they needed a break from their pill, when the amount of hormone in the pill was much higher than today, and less research had been done. Nowadays we say it is safe to stay on the pill at least up to 50 years, and if you don’t want to bleed you do not need to take a break every month either. It is worth chatting to a doctor or nurse about this to find out what is best for you as an individual.

Myth 8: Long term use of contraception can make you infertile

The only permanent method of contraception is sterilisation. With the other methods you can get pregnant straight away or after a short delay, but you will eventually get your cycle back. You can get pregnant the day an injection is late, however it can take up to a year to get fertility back, so discuss your plans with your doctor or nurse so you can find the best method for you.

Myth 9: Emergency contraception must be taken the morning after unprotected sex

There are three methods of emergency contraception: two pills and an Intrauterine device (IUD). The pills work best when taken as soon as possible but may be given 3-5 days after unprotected sex depending which pill it is. The IUD may be fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex and sometimes it can be fitted later. This is the best method of emergency contraception and for more details on all three methods and how to get them visit our website.http://thecentresexualhealth.org/services/contraception 

Myth 10: You can use baby lotion on condoms if you don’t have any lube

Any oil based lubricant will rot a latex condom. Try it for yourself: blow up a condom and then rub baby lotion on it and wait for the pop! We supply free water based lube at all our clinics along with condoms of different shapes and sizes.  http://thecentresexualhealth.org/clinics 

Myth 11: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex during your period

Many people believe this to be true, however it is not a reliable method, because not only are sperm athletic, they can also live up to 7 days! Also menstrual cycles can be very irregular and it is not always easy to know when a woman will ovulate. So it is possible to get pregnant if you have sex during your period.

Myth 12: It is Ok to re-use a condom if you haven’t got a new one

This is not a good idea! Apart from being very messy they can leak sperm and cause an unwanted pregnancy. So make sure you have plenty of supplies handy. Free condoms are available in all of our clinics.

For more information on all of these methods of contraception including side effects go to our website http://thecentresexualhealth.org/services/contraception or come along to our drop-in or booked clinics. At The Centre we hope to give you advice and information in a friendly non-judgmental way. We are confidential, specialist service and you do not need to be referred by your GP. No question is too stupid!  

We look forward to seeing you and maybe busting some more myths.

" ["tags"]=> array(0) { } ["flink"]=> string(53) "/blog/11-myths-and-misconceptions-about-contraception" } [9]=> object(stdClass)#77 (27) { ["id"]=> string(1) "9" ["title"]=> string(20) "Be Queer, get Tested" ["alias"]=> string(19) "be-queer-get-tested" ["url"]=> string(0) "" ["catid"]=> string(2) "23" ["introtext"]=> string(0) "" ["fulltext"]=> string(3341) "

You might have seen the excellent BBC4 series Queers -- a series of short monologues presented in response to the 50th anniversary of the sexual offences act.  One monologue features Russell Tovey as a young man touched by the HIV epidemic at its start in 1987.  He didn’t want to get tested as there wasn’t any treatment then, so what difference would it make?  Things have changed a lot since then -- people who are diagnosed with HIV early and get onto treatment usually live full and healthy lives now. Medical evidence has shown that people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass it on. The important thing is to get tested regularly and often. 

So if you are a gay man, a trans woman or man who has sex with men (MSM) what should you expect if you come to any of the The Centre clinics across Devon?

Firstly you should expect an accommodating and non-judgemental approach from all our staff – we’re here to listen and help you to manage your health needs.  We ask a lot of questions of you to make sure we understand what you need, and what to recommend, and you should feel free to ask us if you have questions too.

  • We will always offer you ‘triple site’ testing – that’s a urine sample, and swabs from the throat and bum (no umbrella!); if you prefer to take this one yourself, we’ll explain how to do it – no stripping off necessary!  If you have symptoms, we’ll do and exam and may do extra tests as well.
  • We’ll offer and do a blood test for HIV/syphilis/hepatitis, and/or a rapid finger-prick test for HIV
  • We’ll generally have a chat with you about managing risk and staying safe – and we can offer support around drug, alcohol and addiction issues (including chemsex) and arrange follow-up or signpost to other services if necessary.
  • We routinely offer vaccination against Hepatitis A and B (although there’s an international shortage of vaccines at the moment so we’re prioritising those most at risk – we’ll try to make sure you get one if you need it).
  • We’ll talk to you about what’s available regarding pre- (PREP) and post- (PEPSE) exposure prophylaxis against HIV, and discuss where you can get PEPSE if we’re not open (A+E).  It’s important to access PEPSE ASAP if you think you need it as it doesn’t work as well after 24 hours.
  • We’ll offer to set up a text message reminder about getting tested regularly (every three months is standard unless you’re in a monogamous relationship)
  • We’ll give you a supply of free condoms and lube as a going home gift! No party bags or balloons though! We've come an awfully long way since 1987, we DO have treatment for HIV and other conditions, and they really work.

Come in and see us soon…

" ["images"]=> string(55) "cache/thumbs/cache/165592d83c2c5174177d2a143672107b.jpg" ["state"]=> string(1) "1" ["featured"]=> string(1) "0" ["created_by"]=> string(3) "964" ["created"]=> string(19) "2017-08-07 00:00:00" ["publish_up"]=> string(19) "0000-00-00 00:00:00" ["publish_down"]=> string(19) "0000-00-00 00:00:00" ["ordering"]=> string(1) "3" ["hits"]=> string(3) "368" ["likes"]=> string(1) "0" ["params"]=> string(0) "" ["slug"]=> string(21) "9:be-queer-get-tested" ["author"]=> string(13) "TheCentreTeam" ["category_title"]=> string(4) "Blog" ["category_alias"]=> string(4) "blog" ["category_params"]=> array(3) { ["category_layout"]=> string(0) "" ["image"]=> string(0) "" ["image_alt"]=> string(0) "" } ["catslug"]=> string(7) "23:blog" ["text"]=> string(3341) "

You might have seen the excellent BBC4 series Queers -- a series of short monologues presented in response to the 50th anniversary of the sexual offences act.  One monologue features Russell Tovey as a young man touched by the HIV epidemic at its start in 1987.  He didn’t want to get tested as there wasn’t any treatment then, so what difference would it make?  Things have changed a lot since then -- people who are diagnosed with HIV early and get onto treatment usually live full and healthy lives now. Medical evidence has shown that people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass it on. The important thing is to get tested regularly and often. 

So if you are a gay man, a trans woman or man who has sex with men (MSM) what should you expect if you come to any of the The Centre clinics across Devon?

Firstly you should expect an accommodating and non-judgemental approach from all our staff – we’re here to listen and help you to manage your health needs.  We ask a lot of questions of you to make sure we understand what you need, and what to recommend, and you should feel free to ask us if you have questions too.

  • We will always offer you ‘triple site’ testing – that’s a urine sample, and swabs from the throat and bum (no umbrella!); if you prefer to take this one yourself, we’ll explain how to do it – no stripping off necessary!  If you have symptoms, we’ll do and exam and may do extra tests as well.
  • We’ll offer and do a blood test for HIV/syphilis/hepatitis, and/or a rapid finger-prick test for HIV
  • We’ll generally have a chat with you about managing risk and staying safe – and we can offer support around drug, alcohol and addiction issues (including chemsex) and arrange follow-up or signpost to other services if necessary.
  • We routinely offer vaccination against Hepatitis A and B (although there’s an international shortage of vaccines at the moment so we’re prioritising those most at risk – we’ll try to make sure you get one if you need it).
  • We’ll talk to you about what’s available regarding pre- (PREP) and post- (PEPSE) exposure prophylaxis against HIV, and discuss where you can get PEPSE if we’re not open (A+E).  It’s important to access PEPSE ASAP if you think you need it as it doesn’t work as well after 24 hours.
  • We’ll offer to set up a text message reminder about getting tested regularly (every three months is standard unless you’re in a monogamous relationship)
  • We’ll give you a supply of free condoms and lube as a going home gift! No party bags or balloons though! We've come an awfully long way since 1987, we DO have treatment for HIV and other conditions, and they really work.

Come in and see us soon…

" ["tags"]=> array(0) { } ["flink"]=> string(27) "/blog/9-be-queer-get-tested" } [7]=> object(stdClass)#76 (27) { ["id"]=> string(1) "7" ["title"]=> string(23) "A Centenary to remember" ["alias"]=> string(23) "a-centenary-to-remember" ["url"]=> string(58) "https://www.youtube.com/embed/3K_wMpiz2qE?rel=0&controls=0" ["catid"]=> string(2) "23" ["introtext"]=> string(757) "

An anniversary always affords chance to reflect and celebrate. We recently celebrated the 100th birthday of Vera Lynn (20/03/17), and soon will celebrating 100 years since the birth of Jack Kirby (28/08/17) co-creator of the first [and greatest] Avenger: Captain America. This year is also an anniversary in sexual health.

It is now 100 years since the “Venereal Diseases Act” was passed into law by Parliament. This historic legislation enabled the creation of a free and confidential sexual health service in the UK. To celebrate this anniversary the British Association of Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH) has produced a video to show how times have changed! You can see it here:

" ["fulltext"]=> string(1035) "

Taking time to reflect on how times have changed is important, particularly with current society increasingly looking to an uncertain environmental, societal and political future. We mustn’t forget whilst looking forward that there is much to learn from history; from successes and mistakes that we have experienced before. With recent rises in many sexually transmitted infections, particularly syphilis, there may be difficult times ahead. We keep hearing of “super-gonorrhoea” on the horizon which only the Avengers could potentially tackle! Whether these predictions come to pass is difficult to know, futurism is notoriously difficult as any science-fiction author would tell you.

However if we were to focus on one thing it is to be sure that that future will hold many successes and failures in the public health: what we must not forget is to review and reflect on them as they happen, and to never forget the lessons we learn. Who knows what these lessons will be when we look back 100 years from now…..

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An anniversary always affords chance to reflect and celebrate. We recently celebrated the 100th birthday of Vera Lynn (20/03/17), and soon will celebrating 100 years since the birth of Jack Kirby (28/08/17) co-creator of the first [and greatest] Avenger: Captain America. This year is also an anniversary in sexual health.

It is now 100 years since the “Venereal Diseases Act” was passed into law by Parliament. This historic legislation enabled the creation of a free and confidential sexual health service in the UK. To celebrate this anniversary the British Association of Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH) has produced a video to show how times have changed! You can see it here:

Taking time to reflect on how times have changed is important, particularly with current society increasingly looking to an uncertain environmental, societal and political future. We mustn’t forget whilst looking forward that there is much to learn from history; from successes and mistakes that we have experienced before. With recent rises in many sexually transmitted infections, particularly syphilis, there may be difficult times ahead. We keep hearing of “super-gonorrhoea” on the horizon which only the Avengers could potentially tackle! Whether these predictions come to pass is difficult to know, futurism is notoriously difficult as any science-fiction author would tell you.

However if we were to focus on one thing it is to be sure that that future will hold many successes and failures in the public health: what we must not forget is to review and reflect on them as they happen, and to never forget the lessons we learn. Who knows what these lessons will be when we look back 100 years from now…..

" ["tags"]=> array(0) { } ["flink"]=> string(31) "/blog/7-a-centenary-to-remember" } [8]=> object(stdClass)#462 (27) { ["id"]=> string(1) "8" ["title"]=> string(30) "Goldcoast Oceanfest 17/06/2017" ["alias"]=> string(30) "goldcoast-oceanfest-17-06-2017" ["url"]=> string(0) "" ["catid"]=> string(2) "23" ["introtext"]=> string(0) "" ["fulltext"]=> string(1238) "

On a beautiful summer morning in Croyde, the sexual health team from Barnstaple and Exeter put up their gazebo and set out their stall to spread the "safer sex message" at Oceanfest 2017.

Many people are often nervous about coming to the Sexual Health Clinic, with notions that we might be judgemental, we might put swabs in embarrassing places or that you might be recognised by someone you know but we wanted the people we met on Saturday to know that actually we're a friendly bunch. The team working in Contraception and Sexual Health are normal people just like you, we see many, MANY people who have probably experienced the same things you have come to see us about and we are passionate about looking after your sexual health.

Some of you at Croyde were excited to see us being loud and proud about our passion but others were a little embarrassed and just glanced at our banners out of the corner of your eyes as you walked past - which is just fine with us - just know that we are here for you when you need us.

Look us up online in the privacy of your home, call us or come in and see us at one of our many clinics in North and East Devon.

" ["images"]=> string(55) "cache/thumbs/cache/bee0c8e1be194846ea6e633141bcdb3b.jpg" ["state"]=> string(1) "1" ["featured"]=> string(1) "0" ["created_by"]=> string(3) "964" ["created"]=> string(19) "2017-06-19 00:00:00" ["publish_up"]=> string(19) "2017-06-19 00:00:00" ["publish_down"]=> string(19) "0000-00-00 00:00:00" ["ordering"]=> string(1) "2" ["hits"]=> string(3) "103" ["likes"]=> string(1) "0" ["params"]=> string(0) "" ["slug"]=> string(32) "8:goldcoast-oceanfest-17-06-2017" ["author"]=> string(13) "TheCentreTeam" ["category_title"]=> string(4) "Blog" ["category_alias"]=> string(4) "blog" ["category_params"]=> array(3) { ["category_layout"]=> string(0) "" ["image"]=> string(0) "" ["image_alt"]=> string(0) "" } ["catslug"]=> string(7) "23:blog" ["text"]=> string(1238) "

On a beautiful summer morning in Croyde, the sexual health team from Barnstaple and Exeter put up their gazebo and set out their stall to spread the "safer sex message" at Oceanfest 2017.

Many people are often nervous about coming to the Sexual Health Clinic, with notions that we might be judgemental, we might put swabs in embarrassing places or that you might be recognised by someone you know but we wanted the people we met on Saturday to know that actually we're a friendly bunch. The team working in Contraception and Sexual Health are normal people just like you, we see many, MANY people who have probably experienced the same things you have come to see us about and we are passionate about looking after your sexual health.

Some of you at Croyde were excited to see us being loud and proud about our passion but others were a little embarrassed and just glanced at our banners out of the corner of your eyes as you walked past - which is just fine with us - just know that we are here for you when you need us.

Look us up online in the privacy of your home, call us or come in and see us at one of our many clinics in North and East Devon.

" ["tags"]=> array(0) { } ["flink"]=> string(38) "/blog/8-goldcoast-oceanfest-17-06-2017" } }

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Goldcoast Oceanfest 17/06/2017

On a beautiful summer morning in Croyde, the sexual health team from Barnstaple and Exeter put up...

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