10:42 08 April 2005
If youve recently enjoyed a holiday romance or one youve had at home, you may well be basking in your memories or continued activities.
If all went well and you were sensible with contraception you may be feeling on top of the world.
But if you ended up having unprotected sex, perhaps under the influence of alcohol, you may well be dealing with some unwanted consequences.
If you or your partner have had unprotected sex and fear pregnancy, you can go to a chemist to get the "morning after pill" within 72 hours for emergency contraception. But if you find that you or your (ex) partner are/is pregnant, you may have a very difficult decision to make.
For some people, there will be no question that termination (abortion) is the only answer. If this is the situation for you, then see your doctor or family planning clinic or contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service on 08457 304030 or www.bpas.org. You could also try Marie Stopes on 0845 300 8090 or www.mariestopes.org.uk.
For many people who find they have an unplanned pregnancy, the decision is not so clear. Women who do not have children and are in their 30s or beyond may feel that a pregnancy is particularly precious, or people who have moral or other difficulties with abortion may feel that such a decision weighs very heavily upon them. It is very important to discuss your thoughts and feelings with your partner, if possible, or alternatively with a supportive friend and/or member of your family.
If you need to discuss your or your partners unplanned pregnancy with an independent professional, you could try contacting the Family Planning Association helpline on 0845 310 1334 or www.fpa.org.uk.
But what if youre not pregnant (or even if you are) but youve (also) got a sexually transmitted disease or infection (STI)?
People often feel unnecessarily embarrassed about having an STI. Very large numbers of people contract STIs at some point in their life and it is highly advisable to seek treatment as soon as possible, as some STIs can get much worse the longer you leave it before being treated. You are also likely to infect any other sexual partner you have if you do not get treated.
Common symptoms of STIs are:
But these vary from one infection to another and you may get no symptoms with some STIS. Most STIs can be completely cured if you get treatment early. But if you dont get them treated, infections can be painful and even permanently damage your health and fertility.
If you suspect that you may have contracted an STD, you can get advice and treatment from your GP. If you dont want to go to your GP, there are other ways of getting treatment on the NHS. You can go to your local department of Genito-Urinary Medicine - look in the phone book under GUM, STD (sexually transmitted disease) or VD (venereal disease).
If you have a sexual health clinic in your area, you can go to these without your GP knowing. Some operate a turn up and wait system, while others run appointments, so contact them first. All of these places are staffed with people who are very used to dealing with sexual health problems and will not be shocked or judge you. They will not inform your GP unless you agree.
There are several services that are especially to help young people with unplanned pregnancy and STIs. These include Brook - 0800 018 5023 or www.brook.org.uk and Sexwise on 0800 282930. For people aged 12-18, you could try the website www.ruthinking.co.uk.
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