Dr Clare Morrison, a GP for MedExpress, answers the 10 most Googled sexual health questions from the last 12 months.
1. What is sexual health?
Sexual health is the care of everything to do with sex, including sexually transmitted infections, other genital conditions, contraception (including free condoms and emergency contraception). It also covers period disorders, pregnancy, fertility, sexuality, transgender issues, and menopause.
2. How to become a sexual health nurse?
To be a sexual health nurse you would first need to train as a nurse (a three year degree course). Then you would need to gain extra qualifications enabling you to specialize in sexual health.
3. What happens at a sexual health screening?
At a sexual health screening you would be asked about any symptoms including vaginal discharge, itching or soreness. You would be asked about your partner and any previous partners, when you last had sex, whether or not you used protection, and what sort of contraception you use. You would also be asked whether your periods are regular and whether you might be pregnant.
You would be examined and offered health screening including vaginal swabs, urine testing and blood tests, to check for thrush, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis. If you had relevant symptoms they would also look for signs of herpes and genital warts.
4. What is sex education?
Sex education covers all that young people need to know about sex, and includes emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, age of consent, contraception, safe sex, sexual reproduction, pregnancy, reproductive rights, sexual behaviour and diversity.
5. How long does a sexual health screening take?
A sexual health screening doesn’t take very long, just a few minutes, depending on how complex the situation is. It will usually take about a week to get the results back.
6. When is sex education taught in schools?
Sex education is taught according to what is appropriate for the child’s age. For example in primary school it will focus on basic biology including the principles of reproduction. From the age of 14, pupils begin learning about more adult topics such as sexually transmitted disease and practising safe sex.
7. How much is a pregnancy test?
Pregnancy tests have become more and more affordable since they were first invented. Now you can even get them at Walmart, CVS, Targetm for under $10 , so you don’t need to spend much.
8. Can you fly when you’re pregnant?
You should avoid flying after you’re 36 weeks pregnant, because of the risk of going into labour. Some airlines will insist that you aren’t more than 28 weeks pregnant however.
If you have a high risk pregnancy, you should get advice from your doctor or midwife. For instance twin pregnancies are often premature, and you shouldn’t fly after 24-28 weeks in this case.
You may wish to avoid flying during the first trimester (the first 12 weeks) if you suffer from excessive sickness, and because of the higher risk of miscarriage at this time.
9. What are reproductive rights?
Women’s reproductive rights are defined as ‘the right for women to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”
The term is generally used in connection with access to abortion, but also includes the right to sex education about contraception and STIs, freedom from coerced sterilisation and female genital mutilation.
10. How do tampons work?
Tampons are made of compressed cotton, in a cylindrical shape, They absorb moisture including blood in the vagina, stoping it from flowing out. They must be removed after a few hours, otherwise bacteria can build up leading to serious infection.