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sexually transmitted infections

A clinical trial testing the first ever vaccine to treat chlamydia has passed the initial round of testing, according to The Journal.

Scientists have now moved closer to a superior treatment for the STI after patients reacted well to a newly developed vaccine.

The Lancet journal have published a study which found that the first trial of the vaccine discovered it was safe and provoked the hoped-for immune system response.

Over 131 million people become infected by chlamydia annually, and the disease is undeniably a global issue. The highest number of new cases are discovered in teenagers and young adults.

Chlamydia is known as the 'silent' STI, as it usually fails to produce symptoms. Scientists are hopeful that a vaccine is the best way to fight the disease, which is reaching epidemic proportions.

National treatment programmes have predominantly failed to curb high rates, including testing and antibiotics. Those infected potentially develop partial or temporary immunity to the STI.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Researchers at Imperial College London and the Statens Serum Institiut, Copenhagen, were successful in their initial vaccine test.

The trial included 35 women, and two formulations of the vaccine were trialed. Scientists advice focusing on just one formulation going forward.

“A global unmet medical need exists for a vaccine against genital chlamydia,” said Prof Peter Andersen of the Statens Serum Institut, who called the extent of the disease an “epidemic”. 

One-in-six women experience inflammation of the pelvis due to chlamydia, which can lead to chronic pain, infertility or ectopic pregnancy as well as increasing susceptibility to other STIs.

“Although many more years of research are needed before this vaccine is marketed, we are planning the next stage of research,” said Helene B Juel of the Statens Serum Institut. 

Almost 8,000 cases of chlamydia were reported between 2017 and 2018 nationwide. Latest figures show that there was a 7 percent increase in sexually transmitted infections during those years.

Men made up a higher number of cases of STIs overall but for chlamydia, men and women were equally likely to become infected. 

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Has anyone else got a stash of (extremely) dusty condoms from your college days, or just from when you nicked them from random clinics or health stalls in school? Us too. 

Condoms have an expiration date on them, in case you weren't already aware, but what exactly happens to condoms if you leave them in the packaging in a darkened drawer for too long?

The last thing you need when you're getting frisky is to realise that your contraceptive is on its last legs…but would an expiry date really dash your hopes of having penetrative sex?

andy samberg flirting GIF

Well, condom materials (latex, polyurethane and lambskin) will degrade and become brittle over time according to Nerys Benfield, DM, MPH.

The renowned gynaecologist from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center spoke to Refinery29 about wearing expired condoms, and we definitely don't think it's worth the risk.

When condoms are less flexible, they break or tear more easily. Using an expired condom leaves you at greater risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection or getting pregnant, Dr. Benfield says.

Still feelin' horny? We certainly don't.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"Despite all the risks, both partners will benefit from using an expired condom versus no condom at all," Dr. Banfield says.

If you store the expired condom in a cool, dry place, it works better than no protection at all. If you can't get any new condoms, the expired one is still your best bet. 

Most latex and polyurethane condoms will have an expiration date of about five years past the manufacture date, so they last quite a long time. We hope you can update your stash in five years, though?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Polyisoprene condoms usually have a shorter shelf-life, but are still usable for about three years. Non-latex natural condoms, e.g. made from sheepskin, have a shorter lifespan and won't protect against many STIs.

Be sure to check your condoms in case any holes or tears have damaged them. If there isn't an expiry date on the packaging or you can't read the date, toss it out. Trust us, better safe than sorry.

So many pleasurable sexual activities don't involve penetration; oral sex, digital sex, mutual masturbation, using sex toys, touching, kissing or just good old-fashioned cuddling.

These activities don't need condoms, so don't panic if your dusty ones aren't salvageable. Get creative and expand your horizons.

john cusack wink GIF

Feature image: Instagram/@iambiancaharris 

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Getting an STI test is often something we don't think of until it's too late, but these new figures should definitely motivate you to pick up the phone and make that appointment.

Positive cases of chlamydia increased by 32% last year, according to new figures from the Dublin Well Woman Centre Annual Report. The centre detected 253 cases of the STI last year, up almost a third on 2013.

Last year's figure is the second highest in 13 years, an alarming statistic considering the amount of sexual health education easily available these days.

As well as chlamydia testing, the Well Woman Clinic offers a full screen for STIs and includes bloods, swabs and any necessary referrals, prescriptions or follow-up.

The figures also noted an increase in women choosing long-action reversible contraception choices, like the Implanon implant, a small flexible plastic rod which is placed under the skin, giving contraceptive protection for 3 years.

While they do not prevent against STIs, many women choose LARCs as a more reliable method of protection from unplanned pregnancy. "LARCs are highly effective, have minimal side effects and are a ‘fit and forget’ solution to contraception," says Dr Shirley McQuade, Medical Director of the Well Woman Centre.

However for guaranteed protection from STIs, especially during sex with a new partner, condoms are still always recommended.

Chlamydia Fact Sheet

What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection which can be contracted by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who is also infected. 

How do I know if I have it?
Unlike other STIs, chlamydia often has no symptoms, though some women do present with abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when peeing. Condoms offer the greatest protection against chlamydia and STIs in general, so it is extremely important to get tested if you have had unprotected sex with a new partner recently or suspect you may be at risk.

What happens if I have chlamydia?
Luckily, chlamydia can be easily detected during an STI test and can be treated with a short course of antibiotics. If left untreated the STI can result in serious, permanent damage to a woman's reproductive system. 

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