Sexual Health

 

Just like other areas of health your sexual health is just as important. Sexual health becomes an issue for anyone who is sexually active or is thinking about it.

Sexual health check ups concentrates on the health issues of being sexually active such as sexually transmitted infections, contraceptives and pregnancy. Sexual health clinics are staffed by professional workers who can answer your questions, give you good information and assist you with any problems if they arise.

 

Check out this website for more information or chat with the workers at YHES House about your sexual health needs 

 

CHLAMYDIA

 

WHAT IS CHLAMYDIA?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection – in fact it is the most common STI amongst young people in Australia. It can affect the penis, cervix, fallopian tubes, anus, and throat, and in rare cases the eyes. Chlamydia can cause serious health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility if it is not treated.

 

HOW DO YOU GET IT?
Chlamydia can be passed on through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected person. This means sex without a condom or dam. A pregnant woman can also pass it on to her baby during childbirth.

 

HOW CAN YOU PREVENT IT?
Using condoms will protect you from Chlamydia. Though, remember, condoms are not 100% prevention for any kind of sexual concerns.

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Chlamydia can be a sneaky infection. 75% of women infected with Chlamydia show no symptoms at all, so you can pass it on without even knowing you have it.

 

For women, symptoms can include:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Needing to urinate a lot
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Itchiness
  • Bleeding and/or deep pain during sex
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Painful periods
  • High temperature
  • Stomach pain

 

Men with Chlamydia might notice:

  • Needing to wee a lot
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Watery discharge from your penis
  • Burning and itching around the hole of your penis
  • Pain in your balls
  • Swelling of your balls

 

WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS?
That’s why chlamydia is a tricky infection! You could be one of the 75% who have the infection and show no signs of it.

 

It’s a good idea to get tested if:

  • You have been diagnosed with having another STI, like gonorrhea, herpes or the wart virus.
  • Your partner has been diagnosed with Chlamydia or another STI.
  • You (or your partner) have had more than one sexual partner, or you’ve recently changed partners.
  • You’ve had unprotected sex (without a condom) with a casual partner.

 

WILL IT GO AWAY IF YOU IGNORE IT?
No, this infection won’t get better on its own. When Chlamydia isn’t treated, women can end up with PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) and also run the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (where an egg grows outside the uterus in the wrong place). Both men and women can become infertile, which means they are not able to have kids. Having Chlamydia can also increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN A CHLAMYDIA TEST?
A clinician will check for infection by doing a urine test or taking a swab. For women, this means they take some tissue from the inside of the vagina with a long cotton bud, and send it away to a lab to be examined under a microscope. For men, the doctor will take a urine sample. It’s a good idea for both men and women not to urinate for two hours prior to the test in case you need to give a urine sample.

To find out where you can go for a sexual health check, come and talk to our Youth Worker or call FPA Healthline on 1301365 88 86 (or 130D SAFE SEX) to talk to a reproductive and sexual health nurse. Talking to the nurse is confidential and anonymous.

 

IS THERE A CURE?
With antibiotics Chlamydia can be treated easily. You will need to follow up afterwards to check it has really gone. If not a further dose may be needed. The doctor or health nurse may also check you for gonorrhea, as they usually are found together.

 

For more information follow these links:
Family Planning – NSW

 

THRUSH

 

WHAT IS THRUSH?

Vaginal thrush is a very common infection caused by yeast called candida albicans, which lives – in small numbers – in areas of the body like the bowel, mouth and in the vagina. Thrush develops when candida numbers grow excessively. Thrush is also known as candidiasis.

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THRUSH?
Vaginal itching or burning is a common symptom.

 

Symptoms which you may experience if you develop thrush include:

  • Vaginal discomfort – itching or burning.
  • A thick white discharge with a ‘cottage cheese’ appearance.
  • Redness or swelling of the vagina or vulva.
  • Stinging or burning while urinating.

 

HOW DO YOU GET IT?
Thrush is not a sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by an overgrowth of candida, which normally lives in the vagina.

 

The overgrowth may be due to:

  • Antibiotic use
  • Oral contraceptive use
  • Diabetes

General illness and immune system disorders.

Sometimes, the reason for candida overgrowth cannot be identified.

 

CAN THRUSH BE TREATED?
Treatment usually involves antifungal creams or pessaries (tablets), which are placed in the vagina at night. This helps to reduce candida numbers and thrush symptoms.

For more information follow these links:
Family Planning – Qld
Qld Govt. – Sexual Health

 

GENITAL WARTS

 

WHAT ARE GENITAL WARTS?

Genital warts are fleshy growths or bumps seen most often in moist areas in and around the genitals and anus including the inside of the vagina, cervix, the opening of the urethra, and may also be inside the anal canal. They are caused by a group of viruses called human papilloma virus (HPV).

 

HOW DO YOU GET IT?
The human papilloma virus is spread through direct skin to skin contact with a person infected with HPV. This occurs most commonly through sexual contact. HPV may be passed from person to person by sexual contact where there is skin to skin contact of the genital area. HPV may also be passed from mother to baby during labour and birth.

 

The virus can be passed from person to person even if there are no visible warts. The virus can live in the skin for many years and during that time can be passed on through sexual contact. This explains why genital HPV infection spreads easily among sexually active people. Warts that occur elsewhere on the body are caused by different types of HPV. Contact with these warts does not seem to cause genital warts.

 

HOW CAN YOU PREVENT IT?
It is unknown how long a person with HPV infection remains infectious or can pass the infection on to a sexual partner.

  • The use of condoms for sex is encouraged. Using condoms will reduce the spread of HPV but will not completely remove the risk.
  • If visible warts are treated as soon as they appear, the spread of HPV is reduced.
  • Even though the warts are gone HPV can still be living in the genital skin and it is still possible to transmit the virus to your partner.
  • Spermicidal foams, creams and gels have not been shown to have any effect against HPV.
     

WILL IT GO AWAY IF YOU IGNORE IT?
Warts often go away by themselves after a period of time. This may be months or years.
 

IS THERE A CURE?
There is no cure for HPV infection. However visible warts can be treated by several means:

  • Applying a chemical paint to the warts. The treatments available must be used with care. Some of these treatments have serious possible  side effects and are not used during pregnancy or lactation.
  • Freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen.
  • Removing the warts by laser.

 

There are also new creams that can be applied to the wart that stimulate the body’s natural defences. These creams are effective though expensive and cannot be used in pregnancy. It usually takes a few treatments to obtain a good response. However, be aware that warts can recur after treatment has been effectively completed. The treatment is not a cure.

 

If you are considering treatment for genital warts, you are advised to:

  • Ask about the costs and benefits of the treatment.
  • Make sure you understand instructions for follow up.
  • Be patient. Treatment may take some weeks.
  • If you might be pregnant or want to be pregnant, be sure to tell the doctor so a safe treatment choice can be made.
  • Care must be taken with treatments which may harm the skin of the genital area.
  • Use take-home treatments only as directed.

 

Do not shave pubic hairs as this may result in further spread of the infection.

For more information follow these links:
Family Planning – NSW

 

SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION (STI)

 

WHAT IS A SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION?

A sexually transmitted infection or STI is any infection that can be passed on from one person to another during sexual contact. Sexual contact includes vaginal, oral and anal sex. Some infections including hepatitis B & C and HIV can also be transmitted by infected blood (sharing injecting equipment) or body fluids, others such as herpes and genital warts can be transmitted through skin to skin contact.

 

The most significant STI’s in Australia are:

  • Genital warts (HPV)
  • Genital herpes (HSV)
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomonas
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Syphilis
  • Parasitic infections like pubic lice and scabies

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS?
If you have any of the following symptoms it’s a good idea to see your doctor or a sexual health worker.
 

Women:

  • An unusual vaginal discharge, itch or irradiation.
  • A sore, wart or lump, rash or blister on the genitals.
  • Pain or discomfort on passing urine.
  • Abdominal pain or pain during intercourse.
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex.
  • Painful or irregular periods.
  • Unusual rectal discharge.
  •  

 

Men:

  • A discharge from the penis.
  • A sore, wart lump rash or blister on the genitals or around the anus.
  • An itch or soreness of the penis.
  • Pain or discomfort when passing urine or having sex.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen.
  • Painful or swollen testicles.
  • Unusual rectal discharge.
     

It is possible for a person to have an infection without knowing it as many STI’s do not show any symptoms. So it is important to have regular sexual health check ups.

 

WHAT HAPPENS AT A SEXUAL CHECK UP?
You will be seen by a health professional that will begin by asking you about your sexual history. Some of these questions may seem really personal but your information will be kept confidential. It is also a good time to ask any questions that may have been worrying you.

 

Some of the questions they may ask you might include:

  • Your sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual)
  • Number of sexual partners
  • Sexual practices
  • Whether you have any symptoms
  • Whether you have injected drugs
  • Whether you have tattoos or body
     

During the visit they may do an external and internal examination of your genital area. A range of tests may be done including swabs, urine and blood tests. It may also be necessary to take extra swabs from the rectum or throat.
 

CAN SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS BE TREATED?
Many STI’s can be treated, some with just a course of antibiotics such as chlamydia, trichomonas and gonorrhoea. Others like genital warts and herpes infections can not be cured but treatment can improve symptoms and make it easier to deal with. Most will not go away on their own, if you have symptoms you will need to see your doctor or a sexual health professional.

 

For more information follow these links:
Family Planning – Qld
Qld Govt. – Sexual Health
Istaysafe – Teen Sexual Health