Sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives, playing a key role in healthy relationships and contributing to your sense of wellbeing. Sexual health includes far more than avoiding infection or unplanned pregnancy, it is very personal and takes on its own meaning for each person.
What does sexual health mean?
- Understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behaviour.
- Recognising and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
- Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
- Making an effort to prevent unintended pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and seek care and treatment when needed.
- Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired.
- Being able to communicate about sexual health with others including sexual partners and healthcare providers.
Safe sex is having sexual contact while protecting yourself and your sexual partner against STIs and unplanned pregnancy. However, no method is 100% effective, so it's important to consider what precautions you're taking and discuss this with your partner.
Contraception & Protection - The REAL Sex Talk
Sexually transmitted Infections (STIs)
STIs are really common. Anyone who is sexually active, is at risk of getting an STI. You're most at risk if you have a new sexual partner, or don't use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, when having sex.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
What are the symptoms of STIs?
Not all STIs have symptoms. You can have an STI without even knowing as sometimes the symptoms are so small, especially in the early stages. Because there are many different STIs, the symptoms vary. Some of the general symptoms include:
- Unusual discharge from your penis or vagina
- Itch or rash on or around your genitals
- Lumps, blisters or sores on or around your genitals
- Pain in your genital area or groin
- Pain in your penis or vagina when having sex
- Pain or a burning sensation when passing urine (peeing).
When should I get tested for an STI?
It's a really good idea to get tested for an STI if you have been in a situation that may have put you at risk, such as:
- Having unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral).
- Your current or past partner has or has had an STI.
- Before you begin a new relationship.
- A condom broke – get tested a few weeks later and get some tips to make sure condoms are much less likely to break next time.
- You're having a general health check-up.
- You have symptoms or just feel something isn’t quite right.
- You or your partner have shared needles for drugs, tattooing or piercing.
How can NZDF help you?
Make an appointment at your local DHC to see a nurse or GP. The staff are trained in sexual health matters and are able to provide confidential and discreet treatment and advice for your situation.