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     If you’re sexually active and let’s face it... most of us are. It is essential you’re getting a sexual health check-up every six months, or after every new partner if you’re not having frequent sex. Remember that sexual activity isn’t limited to just penetration. Rubbing, fingering, and oral are all activities where there is a chance of catching STI’s and more. Even when having protected sex, there are issues such as Yeast Infections and Thrush.
     While the idea of getting a sexual health check can be awkward, it's just a standard medical procedure. Having someone ask you intimate details about your sex life or the thought of someone examining your genitals can be embarrassing. But it doesn't have to be. Knowing the procedure and what to expect can ensure no shock and the most exceptional comfort.

When do I need a sexual health check?
     Having a Sexual Health check isn't reserved for when you have symptoms of an STI such as abnormal discharge, blisters or warts or bleeding or pain when urinating or during intercourse. Check-ups should be routine, recommended at least every six months when sexually active.
    However, when you’re in a monogamous relationship getting a sexual health check-up should be standard procedure at the beginning, and throughout the link whenever getting blood tests. Other times to consider getting a check-up include instances such like: having had unprotected sex with a new partner, being in a relationship and are deciding whether to stop using condoms, having a partner who has been diagnosed with an STI.
    Specific populations are at higher risk of STIs and are recommended to get regular screening. These people include Sexually active people under the age of 29, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and those with Auto-immune issues.

Prevention and diagnosis are key.
    With sexual health, you always want to get diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Make an appointment with your doctor, a specialised sexual health service, family planning clinic, or community service centre. You can book a long appointment if you’d like some time to talk, you can also ask to see a male or female doctor or nurse. Let the doctor know you would like a full sexual health check-up.
These are the STIs you may be tested for: Chlamydia, one of the most common STIs in Australia, Genital herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact including kissing and foreplay, Gonorrhoea (also known as the clap), Hepatitis B, HIV, Syphilis.

Needles Swabs and Examinations.
    Unless you have symptoms of an STI, a doctor or nurse will not usually examine you. Usually, diagnosis is made through questions about sexual history to work out which STIs to test for, and to give you information to keep you safe. It’s essential to answer questions honestly (with as little detail as you like) to ensure the best advice and care. If you’re concerned, you can be asked to test for everything. Usually you will have to ask specifically for some tests as not every doctor tests for everything as standard so make sure you’re communicating.
Questions asked may include:
     When was the last time you had sex and was this with a casual or regular partner?
     If regular, how long have you been in the relationship?
     Was this a male or female partner, and what type of sex was it: oral, vaginal, anal?
     How many partners have you had over the past 12 months and were they male, female or both?
     Did you use condoms always, sometimes or never?
     When was your last sexual health check; have you ever had an STI?

Your doctor may list a few symptoms such as burning or pain during urination or sex or off smelling discharge, and you're experiencing any. After this information is collected treatment is given. This is usually done in the form of a urine test, or for women a self-collected vaginal swab for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Blood tests are generally done for HIV, syphilis, and Hepatitis B. Swabs are the most accurate way to get a result for Cold sores and Genital warts however blood tests can also be done to detect antibodies in the blood. At the end of the check, you should know which STIs you have been tested for and why. You should also be clear about how you will receive any test results.

Nothing is shocking.
    Health professionals have seen and heard it all before. So nothing will shock or surprise them, and they are trained to make you feel at ease and without judgement in treatment. There is also no need to go and get a wax before a health check. Even if you had to dash out during a busy day, doctors understand and have wipes.

You can take a friend.
    You may bring a buddy to give you emotional support, especially if you’re afraid of needles. Just be aware you will need to be seen alone for part of the consultation to ensure you can speak freely without coercion.

    Make sure you’re healthy before the end of July so you can go into the end of the year safely.
Lexi, XX