Q: I have been having sex of late. It has been amazing. Although it has been with a girl. Ever since I have been worried about potential STIs etc. I was a virgin before this and had never been attracted to girls. I have felt guilt about this particularly since I have kept this a secret from all those who are close to me. What should I do? It has been affecting my mental health.
Sexual health check-ups (or STI tests) are an important part of taking care of your own, and your partner/s sexual wellbeing.
A: It’s wonderful to hear you describe the sex you’ve been having as ‘amazing’! From your question I’m assuming you are a woman, so I’ll answer the question from that perspective.
There is some evidence that same-sex-attracted young women have higher rates of STI's than heterosexual young women. The good news is that many of these can be quickly and easily cured with antibiotics! To reduce your risks, it’s always a good idea to use dams, gloves & condoms (for sex toys) with lubricant for a safe & pleasurable experience. These are available at chemists, supermarkets, sexual health clinics and sex shops.
For more information on STIs in lesbian sex, check out ‘The Birds and The Birds’ booklet created by ACON (an organisation that does heaps of great work with same sex attracted young people).
Sexual health check-ups (or STI tests) are an important part of taking care of your own, and your partner/s sexual wellbeing. They’re pretty easy, they don’t take very long and they usually involve a mouth swab, a vaginal swab or urine sample, and a blood test. You can get tested at any GP, sexual health centre, women’s health centre, or youth health centre. How often you get tested is really up to you, and depends on how many sexual partners you have, but a good ballpark figure is about once every 6 to 12 months. It could be a good idea to include sexual health testing as part of your regular pap smear – which all women (regardless of sexuality) should be getting at least every two years.
Do you have a close friend of family member you might be able to talk this over with? It might help to get it off your chest and relieve some of those guilty feelings. If not, many young people find it comforting to talk to others in similar situations – check out if there’s a queer group at your school or university or a lesbian project at your local AIDS Council or LGBT organisation.
To look after your mental health, it’s great to connect with others and ReachOut.com has some helpful fact sheets on how to support your mental health as well as a forum where you can talk to other young people who might be going through a similar thing. You might also find it helpful to talk a counsellor – ACON or a school/university counsellor can help.
Each month we ask you to send in your questions about all things sex, sexual health and contraception.
Responses are written by Giverny Lewis, a 25 year old with a Masters in Sexual Health, who currently works in the area of HIV and sexual health. Giverny is not a GP or medical professional. Any specific sexual health concerns should be raised in direct consultation with your health professional.