Sexual Health Checks – STIs/STDs
STIs and STDs (sexually transmitted infections and sexually transmitted diseases) are one health risk we don’t like to think about much, which is largely why they spread so easily. We don’t want to know about them, many people don’t even experience symptoms and those who do will often mistake them for a urinary tract infection. But they can do so much more damage.
By ignoring your sexual health you risk not only your own wellbeing, but your partners as well. An untreated STI or STD can not only cause discomfort and pain, they can result in physical limitations and infertility. Getting checked after you observe symptoms is one thing; getting a check-up before being intimate with a new partner could actually prevent spreading the infection further. It’s called being sexually responsible, and its not very difficult, so give it a try.
Check out the list of fact sheets for common STIs and their symptoms if you would like to know more about certain infections. Remember, not everyone experiences symptoms so a check-up may be your only way on knowing. Keep reading to learn more about what a sexual health check involves, just in case you are curious. If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to an STI, or would like some peace of mind for yourself and your partner then book an appointment for a sexual health check. They are quick, easy and generally painless. It could save you from chronic pain, physical limitations and infertility later on.
Sexual Health Check List
If you tick one or more of the points below, you might want to seriously consider talking to a health practitioner about having a sexual health check
- Do you think you might have an STI?
- Are you/have you ever been sexually active and never been checked?
- Are you starting a new sexual relationship?
- Do you have more than one sexual partner?
- Does your partner have more than one sexual partner?
- Have you had unsafe sex?
- Has a condom broken or fallen off during sex?
- Do you/have you ever shared injecting equipment?
- Are you concerned about the tattooing or body piercing equipment used on you?
*The frequency of these health checks depends on your lifestyle and sexual activity. The above points are provided as a basic guide only.
What is a sexual health check?
A sexual health check is like any other health assessment, the only difference is that this check-up focuses on your sexual and reproductive health. Like any health assessment, you will be asked a few questions about your lifestyle, if you have had a sexual health check before and if you have any symptoms or reasons for concern. The health practitioner (in our case Nurse Practitioner Sue) will then run a series of standard tests to screen for infections.
It is important to remember that some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) don’t present symptoms, which is why these health checks are important for you and your partner. Just because you don’t see or feel anything wrong, doesn’t mean everything is ok. It doesn’t matter if you have had one sexual partner or ten; one is all it takes to contract a STI/STD.
What happens during a sexual health check?
There a few steps or stages to a sexual health check. Step One is collecting a little bit of information regarding your sexual lifestyle and activities. For most people this is the only uncomfortable part of the health check, but it is important that you are honest so you receive the right tests and information. Some questions you can expect are:
- How many sexual partners have you had?
- Do you have any symptoms or cause for concern?
- Have you had sex with men, women or both?
- Have you injected drugs and/or shared injecting equipment?
Step Two is completing the tests the practitioner deem are applicable to you. There are a few different types of tests and you may not be required to carry out all of them. Physical examinations are generally only completed when physical symptoms like sores are present. The main tests we use are:
- Urine samples
- Blood tests
- Swab tests
- Pap smears (for women) – a swab test recommended every two years for sexually active women
*The results can take a few days so you will need to make a follow up appointment. Depending on the results, you may or may not proceed to Step Three which is treatment or management of an infection. In some cases, treatment can be a simple dose of antibiotics; in other cases managing an infection can be more complex. Nurse Sue can provide you with all the information you need, should you require it.
Feel free to ask questions about the tests, treatments and any concerns you have during your consultations. Our goal is for you to feel comfortable, confident and informed. A step toward preventing the spread of STIs is awareness; we want you to be aware of the risks and of your own sexual health.
Be brave, and make an appointment today.