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If you’re sexually active, it’s important to keep an eye on your sexual health. Get the facts on sexual health and why doctors’ visits are important. Find out what a sexual health check-up involves, including what to do if a check-up is making you uncomfortable.
When people think about sexual health, they mostly assume sexual health is about sexually transmissible infections (STIs) or sexual dysfunction. They are definitely part of sexual health, but there’s more to it than that. Sexual health is about three things – safety, pleasure and respect. In other words, it’s about caring for yourself in sexual relationships.
If you are sexually active, it’s important you visit a doctor regularly to have sexual health checks, even if you feel nervous about it. Remember that you're not alone in feeling this way. At the check-ups, you'll be able to discuss your sexual and reproductive health and rights issues. Sexual health checks can involve:
Anyone who is sexually active should have sexual health check-ups, but how often and when depends on your lifestyle and sexual activity. A sexual health check is really recommended if the following circumstances apply to you:
During a sexual health check you will probably be asked a number of detailed questions about your sexual history. They might include:
As uncomfortable as it is sharing this kind of information with someone you don’t know very well, it’s important to answer any questions honestly; as it could impact on the types of tests or advice you’re given. Untreated STIs can lead to long term health problems like infertility, organ damage or blindness.
With your permission, a health practitioner may also:
It’s a great idea to ask any questions you have, including about any tests you have, confidentiality or about the impact any health issues may have on your life.
Sexual health checks can be uncomfortable, awkward and embarrassing. It might not put all your concerns at ease, but it’s worth remembering that for a doctor or qualified health practitioner, sexual health checks are a normal part of their job. However, make sure you stay in tune with how you’re feeling. If you’re really uncomfortable with the practitioner, or you think they aren’t comfortable with the situation, you might like to see someone else.