It’s not just your car that needs a warrant (LTSA or Les Mills approved) but also your nether regions. Before you proceed with this sexy issue, there are some bases that need to be covered.
Sex is something that we need to think about before the time cums. There are some things that need to be thought about beforehand in order to get that piece of mind that lets us have a free conscience to enjoy.
Sexual Health in NZ
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are common bacterial infections. Chlamydia is the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) in New Zealand, so common that we have the highest rates in the OECD. Gonorrhoea is making a comeback, particularly in gay and bisexual men. They can both be caught through oral, anal and vaginal sex. The most common sites of infection for men who have sex with men are the rectum and urethra and also in the throat for gonorrhoea. Most of the time there are no symptoms, and even without symptoms these infections can cause inflammation that can make it easier to get other STIs like HIV and syphilis, so it’s really important to have regular checkups. If someone does get chlamydia or gonorrhoea, they are easily treated with a single dose of antibiotics.
Unfortunately syphilis is still out there too and can be caught from oral, anal or vaginal sex as well. Many people don’t get symptoms with syphilis and only find out through a blood test, but if symptoms do occur, there is often a sore in the genital area or a body rash. Syphilis is still easily treated with an injection of penicillin.
Genital warts and genital herpes are the most common viral STIs. If you notice any changes to the genital skin like blisters, sores or new bumps, it pays to get them checked out by a clinician as these viral infections are able to be managed.
Getting your WoF
Unprotected nose to tail or other things that go bump in the night?
Any scrapes, discharges or fumes you’re concerned about?
Test driving a new ride?
Maybe it’s time for a tune up!
Testing for STIs has come a long way. There are many myths out there about sexual health screening, but let it be known that there are no umbrellas or fishing rods involved. And the whole process is actually quite easy and testing consists of a urine sample, swabs and a blood test depending on what kind of sex a person has had and whether they have symptoms or not.
An appointment will generally take 10-20 minutes. The consultation will start off with a clinician asking questions about symptoms and sexual history, for example the number of sexual partners, type of sex and whether or not condoms were used. It is really important to be honest so that the right tests can be taken. Sexual health workers have heard every story that has gone down (or been down on) so there is no need to worry about shocking them and they will not be judgemental.
If a person has no symptoms and doesn’t want to be examined they can do their own tests, but if symptoms are present it is important to have an examination. For men a urine sample will be taken to test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea and sometimes anal and throat swabs are done. Women usually have swabs taken from the vagina, but sometimes a urine test is used. Blood samples can be taken to test for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis.
If you have unprotected sex, it is recommended to go for a check up two weeks after for accurate testing for bacterial sexually transmitted infections. Optimal testing for HIV is one month after, then again at two months after. If someone has multiple sexual partners, regular testing at three to six month intervals is recommended. Results can take about a week to come back; most clinics work on the basis of no news is good news.
Protect your power animal
Need we have that condom talk again? With our stats, sadly we think so.
Condoms are the safest bet to prevent catching an STI, along with dental dams and gloves. Well they are second best when abstinence is counted, but how realistic is that for many people?
Condoms come in all shapes, sizes, flavours and colours; it is worthwhile finding out what one fits best. Latex technology has come a long way, allowing condoms to be thinner and more comfortable than ever before.
Condoms or dental dams are thoroughly recommended for oral sex. The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective is a good place to get dental dams and they are also available at some chemists. If you can’t get a hold of one the next best thing to use is a cut open latex glove. Gloves should also be used to keep fisting or fingering safe for men and women.
We are lucky to have a wide range of condoms subsidised by the government (a great way to get some enjoyment out of paying taxes?). Prescriptions can be obtained from your local Sexual Health Clinic, Family Planning or GP to get 144 condoms for $5.
If you have all those bases (and parts) covered, consider yourself warranted to proceed!
Any questions? Auckland Sexual Health is free and confidential for anyone of any age. We have four clinics around Auckland:
Central – Greenlane Clinical Centre, Greenlane West
West – Westpac House, 418 Great North Road, Henderson
South – 12 Waddon Place, Mangere
North – Peach Building, 418 Glenfield Road, Glenfield
For more info or to book a check-up contact us on 0800 739 432 or visit www.ashs.org.nz.
| Hayley Pritchard
Auckland Sexual Health Education Unit