A little love and a lot of lovin’ on Valentine’s Day

I confess to being a hopeless romantic at heart. I even confess to liking those little red cinnamon hearts and pastel-coloured conversation hearts that are synonymous with Valentine’s Day.

I’m not the only romantic in town as clearly evidenced by the number of people buying mushy cards, flowers and chocolates for significant others today. Even if you think there’s a lot of marketing hype associated with Valentine’s Day – including overpriced roses and expensive romantic dinners – you may be among the 62 percent of adults who, according to the US Census Bureau, say they celebrate Valentine’s Day.

You may be celebrating with a small gesture like including heart-shaped emojis when you text your partner. Maybe you’re making the grand gesture of proposing to your sweetheart. Or maybe you’re one of the 61 percent of Canadians who reportedly prefer a romp between the sheets to flowers and chocolates.

Cliché or not, that means a day that focusses on love and romance is also a good opportunity to focus on our sexual health.

Whether or not sex is part of your plan for Valentine’s Day, here are some healthy reminders to keep in mind when Cupid aims his bow and arrow in your direction:

1. Before you have sex with a new partner, get tested along with your partner.

You can get tested for sexually transmitted infections and HIV for free at one of our Public Health clinics. We’ll also be happy to answer any of your questions.

Knowing your HIV status is an important part of your sexual health. You can drop in without an appointment to get a rapid HIV test (it only takes 20 minutes!) every Wednesday at our joint clinic with ARCH Guelph.

2. Use a condom every time you have sex to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

3. Choose a contraceptive that’s right for you.

If you’re under the age of 24 and need some advice on birth control, visit SexualityandU.ca to review what birth control options are available. You can also book an appointment at our clinic to discuss birth control with a public health nurse. We can also hook you up with free condoms.

4. Get regular check-ups.

Talk to your family doctor about your sexual and reproductive health. Ladies, that includes regular Pap tests to check for cervical cancer. If you have any symptoms like a rash, itching or sores around your genitals, visit your doctor or a Public Health clinic. Call 1-800-265-7293 to book an appointment at one of the following locations.

Guelph- 20 Shelldale Crescent
Guelph - 160 Chancellors Way
Fergus - 474 Wellington Road #18, Suite 100
Mount Forest - 311 Foster Street
Orangeville - 180 Broadway
Shelburne - 167 Centre Street, 2nd Floor
Palmerston - 360 King Street, Unit 3