Lovers planning a sexy spruce up for their partners this Valentine’s Day could be increasing their chances of falling foul of a sexually transmitted infection, said Canary Wharf’s Dr Wayne Cottrell .
Being well groomed is a status symbol on the estate and you may think it will score you points in the bedroom.
But the GP has warned shaving or waxing ‘down there’ too close to February 14 could put your health at risk.
He said: “A recent study showed it massively increases your chances of getting herpes or genital warts, by around 400%, as the skin can be torn or damaged and is less protected by hairs.”
The 45-year-old treats dozens of patients for sexual health issues every month from his practise in Freedom Clinics in Canada Place.
Around 80% are men, aged 23-46 and he said on the whole his patients were pretty clued up about STIs.
“People are well travelled and well versed,” he said. “But even though they still know the risks they sometimes still flaunt them because there may be alcohol or drugs involved. It’s human nature.
“Men are more brash about it and say it is an occupational hazard but we are trying to encourage more women to come and get regular checks.”
The doctor, who has 15 years experience offering sexual health screenings to Canary Wharf workers, had words of caution for anyone who might get caught up by the passion of Valentine’s Day.
“Chlamydia is still the most common STI I see and syphilis rates are on the up,” said Dr Wayne. “Historically it was almost gone, but there has been a resurgence and we’re not sure why.
“And there are strains of gonorrhoea now that are resistant to many antibiotics.”
He also said one effect of shaving could be a HPV (human papilloma virus) being more easily passed on. There are more than 30 strains that affect the genital area, are highly contagious and usually spread via sexual intercourse and skin-to-skin contact but have almost no symptoms.
“Two of the strains cause more than 90% of genital warts,” said Dr Cottrell. “The more serious strains cause 95% of cervical, anal and throat cancers.
“Most women who are sexually active missed the vaccination as they had left school by the time it was brought in.
“But you are never too old to be vaccinated.”
Dr Cottrell said many women may prefer to go to their own doctor for tests but they do not always cover all STIs.
“Ureaplasma and mycoplasm are two things the NHS do not test for and can cause infection in the fallopian tubes and affect fertility.
“Also the NHS only offers a smear test every three years, so if a problem develops just after a test, you could be waiting years to discover it.”
He offers chaperones for females patients and can test for most STIs through a urine test alone, although this method is 2% less accurate. A full test with cervical exam takes around 30 minutes. While men can be tested in around 15.
Results for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are available within six hours.
Patients can choose to remain anonymous, how much sexual history to disclose and if they want information passed onto their GP.
Dr Cottrell said: “It’s important to know your status. If you haven’t been tested by the time you are 30, and are sexually active, you really should be.
“A lot of the time there are no symptoms or only minimal signs you have a disease. And if you don’t know you have it, you can’t treat it and may be passing it on.
“Condoms are still the most practical solution for preventing STIs and the most important thing is to get the right size.
“So with Valentine’s Day coming up, be prepared.”
Dr Cottrell offers STI screenings for £90-£555.
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