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Don't be afraid to ask when it comes to sexual health advice

 In 2017, there were more than 400,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England. During the same time, one in 10 sexually active 16-24 year olds also admitted that they never used a condom.

Dr Preeti Shukla, Clinical Lead at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG said:
"It's so important that we practice safe sex – not using protection can lead to STIs as well as pregnancy. It's also good to remember that some infections don't show immediate symptoms, so it is best to get tested.

"Most STIs can be treated easily, so don't be scared of having a test and getting a positive result. However, if you leave an STI untreated it could go on to cause infertility and other complications."

Another focus of this year's awareness week is to highlight the issue of consent –non-consensual sex is a criminal offence and is punishable by law.

Overall, good communication throughout, between sexual partners is key to making sure consent has been given and neither partner has changed their mind.

"If someone has forced or persuaded you into a sexual situation you are uncomfortable with, there is help available.

"You are not alone, there is help and support for you and you should never feel like it is your fault."

You can call the national sexual health helpline free on 0300 123 7123 where your call will be treated with sensitivity and in strict confidence.

There are also sexual assault referral centres (SARC) where you can get specialist support and medical care if you have been sexually assaulted:
The SAFE Centre
Royal Preston Hospital
Sharoe Green Lane
Fulwood
Preston
PR2 8HT
Telephone: 01772 523 344
Website: www.lancsteachinghospitals.nhs.uk/content/safe_centre

You can find out more about sexual health, on the NHS website - www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health