Sexual Health Checks 101

Illustration of an STI floating through the bloodstream

One thing I will never quite understand is the stigma and shame that is associated with having a sexual health check. While yes, I know the Powers That Be have made sex for anything other than procreation a shameful and sinful act, but the actual Powers That Are Us should know better. The thing is, sex –  as fun, exciting, and sex-cellent as it is – is a pretty big responsibility. We need to understand things like enthusiastic consent and fluid communication, we need to understand the risk of pregnancy that can come with it, and we also need to understand the risk of infection and disease that can also be a part of a sexual life. 

These things are not rocket science and making them out to be something difficult or not worth your time thinking about means you’re probably not as sexually “mature” as you think you are, and are probably putting yourself and the people you sleep with at great risk.

STI Statistics… You Are Not Alone

When it comes to safe sex, condoms and dams are one of your best defences but, as we have talked about in the past, are not 100% effective and for certain infections (like herpes or HPV for example) can have absolutely no effect whatsoever. 

“So what!” You say. “I’m clean! I don’t sleep around. I’m safe!”

Well firstly that’s a very bold and stigmatising statement to make. “I’m clean” implies that people who have caught an STI are “dirty” (hello stigma and shame) and this is actually not the case at all. Let’s consider the statistics around STIs. For example, did you know around 67% of the entire world’s population (that’s 3.7 billion people under the age of 50) has the herpes virus? Or were you aware that around 60,000 new cases of gonorrhoea are diagnosed PER YEAR in Australian males. Perhaps you’d be interested to know that in 2011 Chlamydia was the most reported STI in people in Australia with over 79,800 cases being diagnosed (that’s around 435 cases in every 100,000 people).

All In This Together

STIs are common. So very, very common that is is actually far more likely that you will have slept with someone who has an STI than not, and the chances that you may have some form of STI (whether symptomatic or not) are quite high.

Sure, you may not sleep around, yay for you, but you are one person, and unless you are having sex purely with yourself, you cannot say for sure the people you are having sex with are like you. Sure, they can SAY they are… But do you really know? And, looking at the stats just posted, why would you risk it anyway?

Get Tested!

Getting a Sexual Health Check is easy, mostly painless, and also free in most cases too, and can do so much to ease your mind while also helping to educate and inform you and your partners of the risks you take and the best ways to avoid them.

I say “mostly painless” because there are certain tests that require blood to be taken (ouch needles) or internal swaps to be taken (cold speculums and a Q-tip on the cervix, or under foreskin swabs). They are slightly uncomfortable, but far better than what could happen to your bits if you leave an STI unchecked. If you have some form of HPV and get genital warts, they can be frozen off with nitrous which can be a bit unpleasant too, but probably not as unpleasant as cervical cancer or other related HPV illnesses.

It’s very easy to get one too. Your local GP will be able to do it, as will any of the many Sexual Health Clinics that are open around Australia. If you’re a bit embarrassed to go to your regular GP then you can always make an appointment at a community medical centre where no-one knows you. They will most likely be bulk billed and if they’re not, the Medicare rebate should cover it, or you can always find a clinic that does.

The results don’t take too long, although if you’re testing for HIV they can often ask for a few different samples over a few months, just to make sure.

I’m Clean! Let’s Fuck!

There are a few things that I want to mention that a lot of people don’t seem to realise.

A “clean” bill of health on an STI check isn’t a Get Out Of Jail Free card. It doesn’t mean you should forgo safe sex practices, nor does it mean you are invincible. Again, you are only one part of a sexual encounter and it doesn’t matter that your piece of paper says you’re okay, theirs might not, and, even if it does, it also won’t stop pregnancy.

It also isn’t necessarily a true representation of someone’s actual health status. It really only covers you from that moment you had the test to the next time you have sex. You could go get the test on a Thursday, then go out and have sex on the Saturday. You get the results on Monday saying you’re fine… But what about that quickie you had on the weekend? The test didn’t cover that one… 

What I am trying to say is getting regular STI checks are as important to your sex life as always making sure you have consent, but that it is (like consent) a fluid and ever-changing thing that must be kept up to date and on top of, and not used as gospel or an excuse not to use protection and minimise the risks.

Do It For Your Lovers

Every sexually active person should be proud and willing to have checks every three months. It is the best thing for your sexual health peace of mind and for your partners to know you are a mature and intelligent person who takes their health and safety, and the health and safety of others, into consideration when embarking on the intimacy and adventure of a sexual relationship, whether as a one night stand, or a more regular, permanent affair.

No shame. No stigma. Just good old fashioned looking after yourself. And why should anyone be embarrassed about that?  

18 comments

  • Firmhands74

    Firmhands74

    More than a month ago

    Great to see you are still writing. Fantastic article.. Lots of Love.. your friend Dave :-)

    Reply
  • cutcock61

    cutcock61

    More than a month ago

    Being bi-sexual, I have my regular FB’s but also random guys and occasionally ladies.
    To me, it just makes common sense to be tested every 3 months. I go to Pronto in Fitzroy, it takes about 1/2 hour , they take some blood from your finger and arm, you do a stool and urine test and you actually talk to a doctor, and this is free.
    30 minutes of your time every 3 months could save your life, no brainer

    • dressup12

      dressup12

      More than a month ago

      Why don’t you just use protection,saves you going to all that trouble.

    Reply
  • Photos in private gallery

    sep87

    More than a month ago

    Wonderful to see this article - very timely with the incredible rise in STI's. Unfortunately all STI's (other than HIV) can be transmitted by all forms of sexual contact including and 'beyond' oral - both giving and receiving. The number of people on here who say Safe Sex only (and mean condoms) and then indicate they desire oral (receiving and/or giving) never ceases to amaze me.
    The only way you can have an entirely safe sexual interaction with intimacy is for both partners (or more) to all be recently tested clear and for each of them to have only had sexual interaction with others who have also been tested free. The circle must remain closed.
    I'm afraid it's that or using dams and condoms from the commencement of intimacy.
    Take care all and enjoy and respect.

    Reply
  • TerryDevlin

    TerryDevlin

    More than a month ago

    Excellent article Eva !!

    Reply
  • BadMoodBunny

    BadMoodBunny

    More than a month ago

    I think this article was great and I made the choice when I joined this site (to loose my virginity) that I would get tested regularly and I do every 3 months.
    I’ve done this to not only protect me but others because if I don’t know I can’t treat it. I have not had any issues at all and also by having the regular checks we found out that I didn’t have the Hep-B antibodies I should have, which allowed me to get the shots for it.

    Reply
  • Touch2much96

    Touch2much96

    More than a month ago

    To all the bare back men who visit gay saunas and don’t believe in using protection then get on line and put others at risk .

    WAKE UP TO YOURSELF.!

    Please more information on sexual health most on here still think it’s the 70s

    Reply
  • friskypuz

    friskypuz

    More than a month ago

    And yet there are men l have refused as they say they won't use a condom. No condom, no nookie, simple..

    Reply
  • Begabloke

    Begabloke

    More than a month ago

    Anyone with more than one sexual partner should get regular STI checks, but many of them don't cover you for every possible STI. Generally they don't test for HPV (warts) or HSV (herpes), although there are tests for them. In my experience they have been reluctant to do an HSV test due to the risk of false results, either false positives or false negatives.

    Reply
  • Pleasuremywife2

    Pleasuremywife2

    More than a month ago

    Thanks for the article Eva. Perhaps AMM could add a line to members' profiles which says "I get regular STI checks". It would fit well with those questions about drugs etc.

    • Thrilllover

      Thrilllover

      More than a month ago

      Great idea!

    • Yellowhite

      Yellowhite

      More than a month ago

      Without proof what's the point? I mean good idea in theory but 96% of the people on here tell lies regardless.

    Reply
  • Loris.1

    Loris.1

    More than a month ago

    Just an FYI, a new sti on the rise which is becoming increasingly common is Mycoplasma genitalium, drs don’t even test for it unless asked, if like to see the push for it to become standard in all sexual health check

    Reply
  • Intimit1

    Intimit1

    More than a month ago

    The incidence of STI’s is on the rise in the + 50 age group and it really bothers me to see so many playing in couple or group settings who are not using condoms 100%. Testing or not, prevention is better than treatment and I wish you promoted safe sex a whole lot more on this page!

    You should.

    • AMM.Editor

      AMM.Editor

      More than a month ago

      Actually the rise of sexually transmitted infections is in the elder age group and has nothing to do with swinging or group scenarios. Sex ed in nursing homes is very much needed. And there have been studies done and the incidence of STIs in swinging couples is below the average because they tend to be more informed. It's a misconception that because they are sexually active with multiple partners it's assumed the rate of STIs in the swinging community is higher. I'm surprised that you don't think we promote safe sex, it's mentioned in every relevant article.

    Reply
  • BritlnSyd

    BritlnSyd

    More than a month ago

    Eva, condoms and dams will be reasonably to very effective against the spread of HSV-2 and genital HPV, as they generally prevent friction and direct contact between the skin of partners where these bugs live, it's just that they can occur (less often) outside of the coverage of the condom or dam and therefore can still be transmitted while using the standard barrier methods of protection, if you're unlucky.

    • DeliciousEva

      DeliciousEva

      More than a month ago

      When I say no effect whatsoever I am talking about the very fact that these infections are not limited to the areas a condom or dam covers. They are often present without symptoms. They can be transmitted orally, anally and vaginally. And statistics and research interviews with patients who have contracted them prove your statement of unlucky or unlikely is false.

    • ValleyBlondeBBW

      Account Closed

      More than a month ago

      Sorry you are 100% wrong! A condom doesn't stop skin touching - your balls touch the other person as does the end of your dick and above/around it. Both HSV1 and HSV2 can result in viral shedding pretty much anywhere on the body. HSV sores are common on the genitals, anus, thighs & butt, and of course mouth (mostly HSV1). A person with oral HSV shedding can give you herpes by performing oral on you, and you can get it by performing oral on someone who gets it genitally. Condoms are better than nothing but you can still contract HSV using them. (Don't shoot the messenger!).

    Reply
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