After almost 50 years in nursing, it still worries me that not enough emphasis is placed on the 'Three Rs' when it comes to sexual health education in Britain. It seems that we are so keen to teach our young people the mechanics of what is safe and what isn't, that we forget there is so much more they should, and indeed must, know.
Channel 4 have a new romantic comedy on at 10pm tonight called Scrotal Recall, charting the mission of a young man tracking down his past sexual contacts when he discovers he has chlamydia. Though it's clearly a rom-com at heart, the show also doubles as a pretty good way to remove the stigma often felt around STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
The public need to know that our NHS is being privatised, not through the back door, but very blatantly through the front. There may as well be very large advertising placards directed at potential providers, promising in twelve-foot type: "If you can do it cheaper - it's yours." I've seen the effects that privatisation can have in other areas of the country - in Milton Keynes, Trafford, Teeside and Leicester. I also know that other colleagues all over the country are currently going through the same nightmare. In fact, it is likely that all of our NHS sexual health services will be put out to tender in the next few years. It is really rather desperate.
If you're a man who fancies himself as the next Sir Chris Hoy - but you don't want to lose any of your prowess in the bedroom - there's good news. A study of more than 5,000 cyclists in the UK has debunked the popular myth that cycling causes male impotence, suggesting that it may not increase your risk of having erection problems (or erectile dysfunction, ED) after all.
During the Christmas period, the number of sexually suggestive perfume advertisements doubles in number. Such famous examples are Jean Paul Gaultier whose naked vixen wakes up alone after a night with a sailor suggests that sex with an unknown companion is perfectly acceptable. At least over 75% of perfume adverts give that same message to young people.
Research published this week by Marie Stopes shows that of 4,000 adults not trying for a baby, a third of women and almost half of the men had unprotected sex at least once in the past year. And here's the surprising part. Around eight out of 10 of those having unprotected sex said they believed it was "very unlikely" that it would result in pregnancy or they'd contract a sexually transmitted infection. When it comes to our sex lives, it seems we cross our fingers and hope for the best. Yet 185,000 women accessed abortion services last year, which suggests that for quite a lot of us, it does happen. Half a million STIs were diagnosed last year too, some of them incurable and life-threatening.
Efforts to persuade teenagers to have safe sex and to use health-screening services seem to be having a positive effect. Looks like that bloke who said "education, education, education" might have gotten something right after all. So, if you have a teenager, here's ten things you need to know before they become sexually active.