New Research Reveals That More Than a Third (38%) of Sexually Active Women Have Never Had a STI Test

It's no surprise that this figure is so high, as according to ZAVA’s study, a staggering 61% of women feel they had poor sex education at school


  • UK based online doctor, ZAVA has found 38 percent of women have never had a STI check-up
  • Only 16 percent of women follow medical advice and have an STI check-up once per year
  • 62 percent of women pay little or no attention to their vaginal discharge
  • 40 percent of women could be misdiagnosing themselves and failing to get the right treatment because they are unaware of symptoms of STIs
  • To encourage more women to take annual STI tests and monitor vaginal discharge ZAVA has released a new graphic ‘Blooms & Bloomers’

APRIL 2019: ZAVA is an online doctor, offering fast, convenient and reliable access to advice, testing and treatment. Their new research released today shows that 38 percent of women are not taking regular sexual health tests or monitoring their vaginal discharge enough. To increase awareness, ZAVA is urging women to use an original graphic to check their vaginal discharge - often a huge indicator of a sexually transmitted disease - because the study shows that women feel they had poor sex education in school so could be ill-informed.

Positively, the study of more than 2,000 women across the United Kingdom reveals that 16 to 34-year-olds are the age group most in control of their sexual health, with 29 percent of the cohort saying they have at least one STI checkup a year.

However, the research reveals that the older the woman is, the less likely they are to get checked for a sexually transmitted infection, because only 10 percent of 35 to 54-year-olds are being checked annually, and this decreases even further with only 3 percent of over 55s.

Vaginal discharge can often be the biggest indicator that a woman is suffering from a sexually transmitted disease or infection, and whilst an empowered 84 percent of women said they were confident they would be able to tell the difference between normal and abnormal vaginal discharge, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) say that they pay little to no attention to their discharge to be able to spot the difference in the first place.

Looking into this further, 25 to 34-year-olds pay the most attention to their vaginal discharge. A solid 36 percent of respondents in this age range said they pay a lot of attention to their discharge, compared to 63 percent of over 55s, who pay little to no attention to it. Thus proving that millennials are the savviest when it comes to their sexual health screenings and bodily functions.

ZAVA asked respondents about the symptoms of STIs and the statistics show that six out of 10 (61 percent) women were confident that they could tell the difference between a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia and thrush. Despite this, nearly one in five (19 percent) were unable to identify the three main symptoms of the latter.

Two in five (40 percent) thought that a fishy smelling discharge - a key symptom of bacterial vaginosis - was evidence of thrush when it is not. This suggests that 40 percent of women could be misdiagnosing themselves and failing to get the right treatment, and as the research proves this is most likely to be because they’re ill-informed during sex education classes in schools.

The study shows there’s a strong correlation between the lack of sex education in schools and women who get tested for STIs, as well as their depth of knowledge on the subject. Sex education in schools, if done properly, can have a significant and positive effect on young people’s sexual decision making, health and wellbeing later in life. But it seems the system is failing females, as 61 percent of women feel they had little or no education in regards to sexual health.

To help women of all ages be more aware of the importance of annual STI check-ups and vaginal discharge, ZAVA has created ‘Blooms and Bloomers’. This is an original graphic that helps women identify the differences in discharge and encourages them to take an STI test either at their local clinic, or in the comfort of their own home.

Dr. Kathryn Basford, a Doctor at ZAVA comments:

Practicing good sexual health comes with a lot of responsibilities and as a blanket rule, you should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases annually, as well as having check-ups if you notice any changes to your discharge. However, our latest study reveals that a huge proportion of women are failing to attend annual check-ups, which is why ZAVA has created a new graphic to encourage women to get checked and monitor their vaginal discharge.

Just because sex education in schools wasn’t adequate years ago, doesn’t mean women have to do guesswork when it comes to their sexual health nowadays because ZAVA aims to make medical treatment and advice for females around the UK easily accessible. Women of all ages can consult with one of our doctors discreetly on their lunch break, or at a time that suits their busy lifestyles to seek treatment.

For more information on women's sexual health, please visit ZAVA.

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