We recently spotted a piece in Cosmopolitan on the most Googled sexual health questions and two of our experts produced some helpful answers to the top three searches.
1. What happens at a sexual health screening?
What happens at a sexual health screening depends on your risk of having a sexually transmissible infection. For most sexually active young people without symptoms like discharge, pain or bleeding between periods all that is needed is a yearly chlamydia test. This can be through a urine test or vaginal or anal swab (cotton bud test) that you can be shown how to take yourself. Some doctors and nurses will offer a chlamydia test if you come in for something unrelated, without asking you about your sexual practices. A study of young women showed they preferred not to be asked!
If you request a sexual health screen or have symptoms that could be caused by a sexually transmissible infection, you will usually be asked quite a few questions about your sexual practices. Questions may include the number of partners you have, whether or not you use barriers (e.g. condoms), the type of sex you have (e.g. anal, vaginal, oral) and the risks your partners have. You might be offered additional tests, that include gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV.
2. How to become a sexual health nurse?
Once you have completed your general nursing training you can complete a number of short courses to become a sexual health nurse. Family Planning Victoria offers training in sexual health to registered nurses and midwives (Division 1).
3. What is sexual health?
The World Health Organisation define sexual health as "a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence."
Sexual health includes information and support around sexually transmitted infections, contraception, genital and reproductive conditions, menstrual periods, planned and unplanned pregnancy, fertility, sexuality, gender, respectful relationships and menopause.
Genevieve Lean is a Senior Nurse Educator and Kathy McNamee is Medical Director at Family Planning Victoria.