Having a good and healthy sex life contributes to physical and psychological wellbeing. It can help keep you fit and relaxed. Sex of course can result in pregnancy (planned or unplanned). If you are unhappy with your sex life, or unhealthy in your sexual practice, you might miss out on life’s pleasures, or even get sick. Being sexually healthy involves paying attention to preventing unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The most common infections are chlamydia, herpes and HPV (genital wart virus). Chlamydia and HPV often have no symptoms and can give rise to long term problems. Chlamydia can cause fertility problems and pelvic pain if left untreated. HPV or Wart virus can trigger abnormalities in cervical cells, (and other similar cells which are in the throat and rectum) leading to abnormal pap smears and progression to cancer of the cervix or other organs in severe cases if untreated. Gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B are more serious sexually transmitted infections, which can be treated. HIV, Hepatatis B and syphilis are examples of blood borne viruses.
Chlamydia and HPV are common in the general population and are the commonest STIS in heterosexual women. Frequently these infections can be silent (asymptomatic) so that is why we screen for these infections. Gay women can also get STIs, and it is recommended that women who have sex with women only,(though are at lower risk) still get screened for these infections. For this reason, we still recommend that women who only have sex with women, also undergo pap tests.
Herpes is common and it is not possible to be screened for it routinely. Blood tests aren’t very helpful, for diagnosis of herpes ( active or carrier status) as they can be difficult to interpret. The most accurate test is a swab (for PCR) when the blisters arise. Herpes can cause distressing physical and psychological disturbance for individuals and their partners. Our expert clinicians in our Sydney north shore clinic (Chatswood) can advise and inform you about the facts of herpes infection and manage your condition appropriately.
Condom use can dramatically reduce transmission of all of these infections, but if you have unprotected sexual intercourse (especially with a new or casual partner) it is best if you both have a screening check to ensure you are both free from asymptomatic infection ( though it may not be possible to exclude HPV and herpes infection)..