If you’re sexually active, make sure you book in at least one STI test this year. Most STI tests are quick and painless – either a urine test, blood test or swab – and can be done at any GP or sexual health clinic. Remember, the most common STI symptom is no symptoms at all – so your future self will thank you!
Also, if you have a cervix, check that you’re up to date on your cervical screening tests. Cervical screening tests are the best way to detect cervical cancer. You can ask for a self-collected test too, if you don’t want your GP to perform the swab. CSTs are recommended every 5 years.
The start of the year is a great time to do a stocktake of your sexual and reproductive health tools. Check the use-by dates on your condoms, dental dams, lubes and period products like tampons and disposable pads – and replace whatever has expired! Expired condoms and dams can start to degrade, leaving you at risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancies; expired lubes can change in chemical composition meaning they won’t work as well, and can even cause irritation and infections. Expired cotton tampons and pads, especially if they are stored in moist bathrooms can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mould.
Lean into the ‘new year, new you’ mantra and explore some sexual and reproductive health products you’ve never tried! This could mean new sex toys, new period products (moon cups or period panties, anyone?) or new contraception options. Like anything else, you won’t know what suits you best until you’ve tried!
Make 2023 the year of learning about all things sexual and reproductive health. From learning about your body and anatomy, learning about fun and pleasurable sex, or the history of the LGBTQIA+ or abortion rights movements, there’s lots of interesting, empowering and inspiring stories out there. Check out our list of recommended books, movies, TV shows and podcasts in our annual zine!
Sexual and reproductive rights around the world have been under attack – supporting these causes protects not only your health rights, but those of people all over the world. You can donate to somewhere like the International Planned Parenthood Federation, who fight for sexual and reproductive rights worldwide, or the Guttmacher Institute, a global research and policy advocacy group for sexual and reproductive health. Closer to home, you can support organisations like Share the Dignity, who distribute period products to those doing it tough. You can even encourage the health workers in your life to support sexual and reproductive health rights; ask your GP to train to provide medication abortions to their patients!