Sexual Health

Warning

This information is intended for viewing by persons over 16 years or, if under 16 years and have received parental permission.


How much do you know about sexual health?

This video is part of Sexual Health Week and will focus on sexual health, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), how to have safe sex and what a sexual health check is.

The term “Sexual Health” means taking responsibility for your body, your health, your partner’s health and your decisions about sex, for example- being free from sexually transmissible infections (STIs) or an unplanned pregnancy.

 

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

What is an STI?

A sexually transmissible infection (STI) is an infection that can be passed from one person to another when they have sex. If you do not want to catch an STI, always have safe, protected sex. That means using a condom and water based lubricant, such as Wet Stuff, when you have any kind of sex (vaginal, anal or oral) or having non penetrative sex (touching each other in ways you both enjoy).

It is important that you are aware that regardless of if you only sleep with one person, you could still get a STI. It is possible that your partner does not know that she/he has it. As you can see on the tree, you could sleep with one person, and they only slept with one other person but that other person could have slept with someone that had a STI. (Auslan: GIVE GIVE) As a result, you could get a STI.  That is why it is very important that you tell your partner if you have a STI so they can get treated too. You could say, “I have an infection in my penis (or vagina). The doctor said we should both be treated so we don’t keep getting it.”

 

Safe Sex
What does ‘safe sex’ mean?

This section will explain what safe sex is as well as how you can remain safe when you have sex.  Safe sex means doing things that will reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection, or an unplanned pregnancy and where you and your sexual partner feel safe and comfortable. It doesn’t matter if you have vaginal, anal or oral sex- it is still important to have safe sex.
To choose to have safe sex, first you need to decide on a few things:

  • Do you want to have sex?
  • What sort of sex do you want?
  • Who do you want to have sex with/who you do not want to have sex with?
  • How often do you want to have sex? (Saying yes once, does not mean you have to say yes all the time)
  • How will you have safe sex? Are you protected against STIs and pregnancy?
  • It is also very important to discuss sex with your partner before you have sex.

Things to keep in mind before having sex are:

  • Consent:
    • Are you and your partner of a legal age to have sex?
    • Are you both under the influence of alcohol and drugs? Being under the influence affects your ability to consent to have sex.
    • Are you both okay and comfortable with what’s happening?
    • Any sexual touching without your consent is against the law.
    • If you’re not sure if the other person is okay with what’s happening, ask.
    • Discuss it with your partner, tell them how you feel and what you want/like. You can also tell your partner what you don’t like too.
  • Sex works best when two people listen to each other and trust each other. If you have agreed to have sex with your partner, we have a few tips of how to have enjoyable but safe sex:
    • Always use condoms, regardless of whether it is vaginal, oral or anal sex.
    • Condoms are the only method of contraception that protects you from both STIs and pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if you are using other contraception, like the Pill or a diaphragm. Always use condoms as well.
    • If you choose to have unprotected sex, talk to your partner about the risks involved. Your decision about whether to have safe sex or not is very important because some STIs can be cured but others cannot be cured.
    • Before having sex, it is a good idea to discuss sex, the use of condoms and safer sex with your partner and come to an agreement about using condoms. Remember you have the right to say NO if your partner does not agree to use condoms.
  • Never have sex (even with a condom) if your partner has a visible sore, ulcer or lump on their genitals or anal area. Suggest they see their doctor, family planning clinic or sexual health clinic.
  • STIs can be passed on from one person to another through oral sex. If you have oral sex, you can reduce the risk of infection by using condoms or dental dams, avoiding getting semen or blood in your mouth, avoiding oral sex if you have any mouth ulcers or bleeding gums or if you have cold sores, do not give your partner oral sex.
  • STIs can also be transmitted if you use sex toys, so you need to be safe. Use condoms and change the condom for each person. Wash the toys carefully after use and wash your hands after removing the condom.
  • Safe sex also includes other activities like kissing, cuddling, rubbing, massage, stroking, masturbation, touching each other’s genitals and oral sex using condoms and dental dams to protect your mouth.

Sexual Health Checks

If you are sexually active, it is important to have regular sexual health checks. A sexual health check is a check-up by a health professional for sexual health issues like sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It also gives you an opportunity to ask questions about reproductive and sexual health.

You can go to your local GP, a doctor/nurse at a local Sexual Health Centre, a Youth Health Centre or at a family planning clinic for your sexual health check.

Anyone who is sexually active is advised to talk to their health professional about having check-ups. How often and when you need to have a check-up depends on your lifestyle and sexual activity, so a sexual health check is advisable if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • If you think you might have a STI
  • If you have had unsafe sex, including vaginal, oral and anal sex
  • If you have had a condom break or it falls off during sex
  • If your partner has another sexual partner
  • If you have more than one sexual partner
  • If you have shared injecting equipment
  • If you are starting a new sexual relationship

As you can see, during sexual health check, they will usually begin with taking a sexual history. Some of the questions they will ask may seem quite personal and you may feel uncomfortable answering but it is important that you tell the truth because if you do not give accurate information, you might not get the best service possible or given the right tests.

This could mean your health could be seriously affected. Some STIs can lead to long-term health problems if not treated properly. Check with the health professional to make sure that all the information you give them is confidential.

During the examination (with your consent), your external genital area may be examined for any signs of STIs. A range of tests may be done including:

Urine sample and/or blood test (e.g. Sample of urine taken or sample of blood taken from the arm).
Swabs (e.g. taking a sample of fluid or discharge on a cotton bud for examination on a slide under a microscope).
For women, a vaginal examination may also be performed, such as a Pap Test (swab of the cervix, which is inside the vagina). A Pap Test is not a check for STs, but a routine procedure that all sexually active women are advised to undertake every two years to make sure cells in the cervix are normal.

Visiting a health professional is a good opportunity to ask any questions you might have about your sexual health or to discuss anything that has been worrying you.

You will need to make a follow up appointment with the health professional to find out your results. If you have tested positive to any STIs, then the health professional will discuss treatment options with you.


Sexting

This video is to talk about Sexting. Do you know what sexting is?

Sexting means sending or receiving a sexual message or picture of yourself or another person on your mobile phone to another person. A Sexual picture can be of you or other people having sex, or a picture of your or another person’s breasts, penis or another part of the body.

Sexting is becoming quite common, and there are a few things to be aware of.

Did you know that in NSW, you are a child until you turn 16 and you have to be 16 to have sex legally?  In Australia under a law called the Commonwealth Criminal Code, you are a child until you turn 18.

So what does that have to do with sexting?

If you are under 18 and you take a photo of yourself while naked and send it to your friend or boyfriend/girlfriend, you could be charged with production and distribution of child pornography because you are still considered a child under Commonwealth law.

There are two laws, NSW law and the Commonwealth law. You must follow both laws but the Commonwealth law is stronger than the NSW law.

Another thing that is really important to remember, if you take a photo and send it to someone- they could be charged with possession of child pornography because you are under 18. The person sending the photo and the person receiving the photo both can be charged.  If you receive a sexual picture you could be charged with possession of child pornography regardless of whether you asked for the photo or not. If you have it on your phone- then you can be charged. It’s best to delete it straight away and tell that person that you do not want to see any pictures like that.

Things that can happen if you are charged include getting in trouble, going to court and having a criminal record and there is a possibility of you being placed on a Sex Offenders Register. This can affect your career and travel goals, and you will be required to report to police, update them of any changes of address and be monitored by the police.

One last thing, remember that you have to abide by NSW law and Federal law. So for example, if you are 16 or 17, you are legally allowed to have sex in NSW but if you take photos or film yourself, you can get in trouble under Australian law because you are under 18.


Chlamydia

A person can have Chlamydia without knowing it; it is often called a silent disease.

Men may have a discharge from their penis and it may hurt to urinate (piss). Women might have a discharge from the vagina and pain low in the belly. If women are not treated, Chlamydia can cause PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease). PID can stop women ever being able to have a baby.

Treatment: Antibiotics. All sexual partners must be treated to stop passing it on.


Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a virus that causes very painful itchy sores on the penis, vagina or anus. The sores change into little blisters that burst and get better. They come and go and there can be months or years between attacks.

Treatment: There is no cure for herpes but there are things that help. Ask your doctor about these.


Genital Warts

Genital warts grow around the penis, vagina and anus. They may be sore or itchy or they may not bother you. If they grow inside the vagina, women won’t know they have them unless they have a check up.

Treatment: It is important to go to a sexual health clinic or the doctor to get treatment for genital warts.


Gonorrhoea

It is often called the jack, the drip or the clap. Men usually have a discharge from the penis and sharp pain when they piss. Women might not know they have it. Gonorrhoea can cause PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease).

Treatment: Antibiotics. All sexual partners must be treated to stop passing it on.


Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is passed on by sharing needles and syringes and hepatitis B is also passed on by having sex. It is very easy to catch and can make people sick for a long time. Signs are the same as for Hepatitis A, yellow skin, dark urine (piss) sick feeling, pain in the belly and tiredness.

Treatment: See a doctor. Rest in bed.


HIV / AIDS

HIV is a virus. It is passed on in blood, semen or vaginal fluid, mainly by having sex or sharing needles. People who have HIV can stay well for years and do not know they have it unless they have a test.

After some time HIV can cause AIDS. When people have AIDS they get very sick as their immune system is not working well.

Treatment: There are medicines that can help with HIV, but there is no cure for AIDS.


Syphilis

First a person gets an ulcer somewhere on their body. If it is inside their vagina or anus they will not know about it. Then they get a headache, sore throat, fever and a rash on the palms of their hands or the souls of their feet. They seem to get better but Syphilis stays in their body for years causing problems. At last the person gets very sick and will only get better if they have treatment.

Treatment: Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, but it is best if it is treated early.