Your sexual health is super important to stay on top of but we know the idea of a sexual health check up can make some people squeamish, so we thought we’d walk through what a sexual health check up is, why it’s important, and most importantly why it’s surprisingly routine, usually free of all the personally confronting situations you might think are involved!
First up why sexual health check ups are important
STIs are quite common and can often be without symptoms. At their best they can be uncomfortable and of course at their worst they can cause problems like infertility and cancer down the line when left untreated. The good thing is most treatments are as simple as some antibiotics or a cream and doing so reduces the spread throughout the community.
Can sexual health check ups really be non-invasive?
Yes definitely. Despite what you might be thinking, a sexual health check up is generally non-invasive. If you have no symptoms then no examination is required and it’s as simple as a urine test or self directed swab which is sent off to the lab for testing. Occasionally a blood test can be required when testing for certain STIs as well.
If you have a lesion or lump we will have to have a quick look of course but other symptoms such as discharge, pain or discomfort passing urine may also only need a urine test or swab.
The good thing is other things cause rashes, lumps or discharges as well. So it may not be an STI and it’s often is reassuring to find this out. Sometimes you even find out the thing you were concerned about is part of normal human anatomy!
A tip is to not have a wee for at least 2 hours before your appointment so that it’s easier to get the sample.
How often should I have a sexual health check up?
Health authorities recommend regular screening however it varies by age and sexual activity.
It should be a routine part of a young person’s self care and generally if you’re under 30 an annual STI screening is recommended.
People that are having unprotected sex need more regular screening, every 3 months is a good idea. The same goes for higher risk categories such as males that prefer to have sex with other males.
For serial monogamists the best time for a check might be when there is a change of partner and those with no current partners may not need one at all right now.
What about privacy and confidentiality?
It’s worth mentioning that sometime people don’t like going to a dedicated STI clinic for a check up as it’s clear that every patient is there for something related to an STI.
A general practice such as Kardinia Health Geelong has dedicated sexual health specialists, however because it’s a general practice there is nothing to distinguish what patients are there for.
Once you’re in with the doctor, everything is private and confidential. There’s no judgement what-so-ever, just professional advice in a safe environment.
What is the cost of a sexual health check?
Costs are minimal as tests can usually be bulk-billed and the consultations are routinely bulk-billed for concession card holders and people under the age of 16. If cost is a problem, please mention this to your consulting GP.
What happens if something is found?
Treatments are usually quite simple. A common STI is Chlamydia which is treated with a course of antibiotic tablets. Other simple treatments include creams.
If you do need treatment it’s important that partners and contacts are treated as well. We can advise on when this is needed and when it isn’t required.
Kardinia Health can even do contact tracing, where we can anonymously inform a contact that someone they’ve been with has tested positive to an STI. They can be notified privately via text, social media or other mechanisms recommending they get themselves checked out too.
How to make your first sexual health check up appointment
Just contact us and make a general appointment. No need to mention to reception what it’s about. New patients are booked for 30 minutes which is a double appointment. That allows our dedicated sexual health nurse to talk through everything and get a bit of history.