Sharing moments Menopause Young adults Bye bye Hotel Mum How you feel at home Semester abroad Language course abroad or work as an au pair? Be prepared for military training Grassrooted Pack smarter, travel better Make an impression Contraception Vegan diet Bye bye Hotel Mum – hello shared flat Big trip, small budget Finanzielle Vorsorge Planning a family Tracking fertility The right time? How men can help Fertility and diet Medical check-up What you need to know about ovulation What to do if you don’t conceive straight away Three electronic fertility and cycle trackers in comparison Planning a family and partnership Pregnancy Examinations during pregnancy Diet and nutrition Is my pregnancy progressing normally? Tips for daily life Important points for travel and holidays Is my pregnancy progressing normally? What items do I need for my baby? Where and how do I want to give birth? What do I need to pack for the hospital? How should I prepare my home for my child? Is my pregnancy progressing normally? How can I best prepare for my baby? How can I best prepare for the birth? Nutrition Parent-child relationship Preparing for breastfeeding | Sanitas Magazine Insurance Stretch marks Sleep Rupture of membranes Baby blues High-risk pregnancy Braxton Hicks & false labour Formalitites Morning sickness Family rooms Signs of a premature birth Our baby Bathing baby – what you need to know How babies hear Infant first-aid kit Baby care Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Is my baby developing normally? Baby’s development: Months 3 and 4 Baby care Breastfeeding When does a baby start eating? Weight Baby growth spurts Toys Sun protection for baby skin Teething Milk teeth: what to do in case of accident Baby’s development: Months 5 and 6 Pelvic floor exercises after birth Babyschlaf Celebrating and enjoyment Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a twist A philosophical take on pleasure Pleasure can also be found in the soup kitchen in Zurich Tips for a peaceful and stress-free Christmas Living better with cardiac insufficiency Alejandro Iglesias Hana Disch Patrizio Orlando Vaccinations and travel first-aid kit Hay fever In pursuit of happiness Seven tips for a happier daily life Kids in lockdown Online addiction Women's hearts Decisions Decision-making tips Report from the hospital Donating a kidney Life decisions Emigrating to South America Geocaching Sexuality Erectile dysfunction Young people and sexuality Queer pastor Drag queen Paprika Sexually transmitted infections What does LGBTQIA+ stand for? Gender medicine HPV Families of transgender people Medically assisted suicide Types of dementia Be active Active during pregnancy Sport and exercise during pregnancy Antenatal exercise classes Standing properly Healthy eating Green smoothies Vitamin D Good eggs, bad eggs Diet plan Healthy fats Feed your muscles How much sugar should we eat a day? How much fat should we eat a day? Lactose intolerance Healthy diet, strong immune system Low Carb E-numbers and other additives in food Personalised diet Vegan meat substitutes Healthy heart Interview with Christophe Wyss Heart-friendly sports How the mind affects the heart Taking blood pressure correctly High blood pressure: what you need to know Healthy teeth Home remedies: relief for sore gums A dentist explains Brushing up on brushing Changing habits Interview Stortpsychologie 10-step guide to changing habits Try, try, try again Fitnessmotivation Running coaching Running ABC Race in Sarnen Factors affecting condition Weekly planner Running shoes Strengthening exercises Running nutrition Complementary sport Warm-up Stretching Functional clothing Fitness tracker Shopping – sportswear Running tips for women Relaxation technique Recovery New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching Sport after childbirth Postnatal exercise Taking the strain off your shoulders Kangatraining Workout while walking Expert tips Stress and relaxation Moving air Fight stress with yoga What is stress Learn how to relax Dealing with stress What is burnout? “The first step was to create boundaries” Juggling family and a career Reduce stress Stressor factors The most beautiful Swiss saunas Sweating in the sauna Breathing exercises for relaxation The right rest & recovery: debunking myths Mindfulness Sleep Constant availability: chronic stress Trend sports Fitness boxing Slackline Bouldering Fascia training Stand Up Paddling Keeping fit efficiently Swing with a smile! Vertical workout Hiking Altitude sickness Seven stroller-friendly hikes Needed: a hiking-friendly pushchair There goes the other sole! Tips on hiking with a baby Mountain lakes Winter walks Planning a family: Fertility and exercise Stair climbing Pumptrack Kids’ back Back exercises Sitting properly at work Forest fun Playing for life Promoting health and fitness Motivation Sledging Curling glossary What do you get if you cross a kite with snow? Snowshoeing Preventing falls Inline skating Swimming Swimming Wings for Life Stretching Bike tips Stretching exercises for cyclists koerper-und-kaelte Healthy teeth thanks to dental hygiene and preventive care Putting wishes into practice Tips for healthy teeth Hometraining Investigating teeth-related myths 10 tips to ease anxiety Hand care How our body regenerates The best abdominal exercises in five minutes Keeping fit on holiday Swim training aids Wie viel Sport ist gesund Gathering mushrooms – the right way | Sanitas Magazine Check-ups Five-minute stretching routine Gehirntraining Rückenschmerzen Licht Yogastile Ayurveda-Morgenroutine Tips for doing sport outside in winter Cross-country skiing for beginners Home remedies against dandruff Home remedies Home remedies for bladder infections Home remedies for a sore throat Home remedies for migraines Home remedies against excessive sweating Home remedies for a sun allergy Healthy feet, healthy back core exercises for mountain bikers Symptoms Check Sport after Corona HIIT: quick and efficient exercises Sore muscles: debunking myths Debunking swimming myths strength training for young people Exercise videos Whole-body workout Fascia training Lack of exercise Sun protection Strong mind How to be mentally strong Mental strength Psychosomatics Resilience Tips against feeling down Sleep hygiene and mental well-being Depression Panic attacks Prescription drug addiction ADHD: Symptoms in children and adults Mental illness: help for friends and family Living with autism Pressure to perform Alcoholism Blood: myths and facts Hormones Complementary medicine: the most common treatments Complementary medicine Training in line with your menstrual cycle Living together today Digital life Online addiction Digital temptation Children and digital media Smartphone neck Digital responsibility and solidarity Our brains love habit Change my habits? You’re joking! Planning a family: Difficulties trying to have a baby Planning a family: Myth vs fact Solidarity study Newcomers Living together tomorrow Digital nomads Giesserei multi-generation house The blind film director Help instead of rent Working on the move Medical practices of the future Our skin – layer by layer Generational discussion: wishes for life Hausarzt und Corona Safe return to work Corona crisis: singing together Corona crisis: Working in intensive care Corona crisis: working in a nursing home Rest and recovery: learning from children Corona crisis: voluntary work for the needy Second opinion Relationships and children Three questions that keep us awake at night Outing The nature of lying Vorsorge Finding sound health-related information online Impfstoffe entwickeln Tipps für Jugendliche in der Corona-Krise Becoming parents Diagnose: Kind im Haus Long Covid Take it easy in your free time YouTuber Aditotoro on the coronavirus pandemic Minimalism for a happy life Thanks to corona: more time for family Back to life after a paragliding accident Decluttering: the answer to chaos Living and loving with autism Synaesthesia Talking to doctors Non-verbal communication Is there really a serial killer gene? Developments for the future App check Aqualert SRC blood donor Codecheck Forest Freedom Freeletics Moment Three sleep apps reviewed PeakFinder Findery Six fitness apps reviewed Internet use High-tech trousers Prostheses Hospital of the future New skin for burns victims Online-Therapien How drugs are developed Generics A vision of the future: How we will live in 30 years Onward Overcoming erectile dysfunction Family medicine practices of the future Personalised medicine A voice for Clara Sanitas newsletter
Dossier: Sexuality

Safer sex? Yes please!

On average, everyone contracts a sexually transmitted infection once in their lifetime. So it’s important to know how to avoid STIs, to recognise the symptoms and to respond quickly.

Text: Nicole Krättli; photo: iStock

The “Ohne Dings kein Bums” campaign, which can roughly be translated as “No glove, no love”, was a widespread safe sex campaign slogan in the 1990s. And the Federal Office of Public Health’s “Stop Aids” campaign had an impact. The topic of HIV was omnipresent, as was the fear of becoming infected with the disease. 

Today, HIV has lost some of its fear factor. Thanks to medical progress, people who contract HIV can usually live a largely normal life. For the first time since the start of the HIV epidemic at the beginning of the 1980s, the FOPH recorded fewer than 300 cases of HIV in 2020. By way of comparison, an average of 1,300 cases were being recorded a year in the 1990s.

Nevertheless, we must certainly never underestimate the risk of sexually transmitted infections. According to figures published by the World Health Organisation WHO, on average, everyone contracts an STI once in their lifetime. So it’s important to know what STIs are out there, how to avoid infection and what symptoms to look out for. 

HIV

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and it can be transmitted through contact with sperm, vaginal fluid, the anus, blood and breast milk. HIV damages or destroys certain cells of the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off other infections. If HIV goes untreated, it can lead to AIDS. More than 37 million people worldwide are infected with HIV or have already developed AIDS. In Switzerland, the number is around 16,600.

To protect yourself against infection, it is important to follow the safer sex rules (see box) and don’t share syringes and hypodermic needles. Today, you can also protect yourself by taking medication.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in Switzerland. It is most common among young men and women under the age of 24 and can be transmitted by oral, vaginal and anal sex. Around 70% of women and roughly half of the men who have the disease have no or few symptoms. If they do, they usually occur two to six weeks after infection in the form of a burning sensation and pain while urinating and discharge from the vagina or urethra. Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics or may heal spontaneously. However, if untreated, it can lead to infertility in both sexes. 

Condoms reduce the risk of catching chlamydia, but infection may still occur. Therefore, anyone who has multiple or frequently changing sexual partners should seek medical advice and check whether it is a good idea to get tested.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases worldwide and can be transmitted through oral, vaginal and anal sex. Symptoms usually occur two to seven days after infection. Men may initially experience redness and swelling at the penis opening with pain during urination and a pus-like discharge. Women may also experience increased discharge and pain during urination. It can be treated with antibiotics.

Condoms greatly reduce, but don’t entirely eliminate, the transmission of STIs. Anyone who has multiple or frequently changing sexual partners should seek medical advice.

Syphilis

Syphilis is transmitted by bacteria through oral, vaginal and anal sex and can become chronic. It can take up to three months after infection for initial symptoms to show. Symptoms include red blotches, hardened, painless sores, called chancres, at the entry point of the pathogen, and swollen lymph nodes. The symptoms may disappear without treatment, but the disease and its transmissibility remain. If detected in good time, syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. 

Condoms greatly reduce the risk, but don’t entirely eliminate it. That’s why it is important to recognise and treat the infection at an early stage. Anyone who has multiple or frequently changing sexual partners should seek medical advice.

Hepatitis

There are different types of hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis A is more likely to affect men who have sex with men. Symptoms include acute fever, feeling sick, jaundice, loss of appetite and nausea. It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to appear after infection. Hepatitis B is primarily transmitted through body fluids, such as semen or blood. Symptoms can be very non-specific, ranging from loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting to abdominal and joint pain, fever and a rash. Hepatitis C is primarily transmitted via blood-to-blood contact, but rarely through sexual contact. 

You can be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B. To protect against Hepatitis C, you should avoid getting blood on mucous membranes during sex.