Sexual health check-ups, also known as sexual health screenings or sexual health exams, are medical assessments conducted to monitor and maintain an individual’s sexual well-being. These check-ups encompass a range of examinations, tests, and discussions with healthcare professionals to ensure optimal sexual health.
Medical History Discussion, the check-up often begins with a conversation about the individual’s sexual history and any concerns or symptoms they may be experiencing. This discussion helps healthcare providers tailor the examination to the individual’s specific needs.
Physical Examination, a physical examination may include a visual inspection of the genital area, examination of the breasts (for individuals assigned female at birth), and an evaluation of overall health.
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Testing, this is a fundamental part of sexual health check-ups. Depending on an individual’s sexual activity and history, healthcare providers may recommend testing for STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and others. Testing may involve urine samples, blood tests, or swabs from the genital area or mouth.
Pap Smear (for individuals assigned female at birth), women may undergo a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer. This involves collecting cells from the cervix to check for abnormalities.
Prostate Examination (for individuals assigned male at birth), men may have a prostate examination, which involves a digital rectal exam (DRE) to assess the prostate’s condition and screen for prostate cancer.
Contraceptive Counseling, for those interested in family planning, healthcare providers can discuss contraceptive options, including birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), condoms, and others.
Discussion of Sexual Health Concerns, patients are encouraged to share any sexual health concerns, questions about sexual activity, or issues related to sexual dysfunction or pain with their healthcare provider. This provides an opportunity for guidance and advice.
Education, sexual health check-ups often include educational components, where individuals can learn about safe sex practices, the importance of regular screenings, and the prevention of STIs.
Vaccinations, depending on an individual’s age and risk factors, healthcare providers may recommend vaccinations such as the HPV vaccine to protect against certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can lead to cervical cancer.
Follow-Up and Future Planning, based on the results of the check-up, healthcare providers may recommend follow-up appointments or additional screenings. They can also help individuals create a sexual health plan for the future.
Sexual health check-ups are not only for those who are sexually active but for anyone who wants to take proactive steps to maintain their sexual well-being. These check-ups provide an opportunity for early detection and treatment of health issues, promote responsible sexual behavior, and contribute to overall individual and public health. They are a vital aspect of comprehensive healthcare and should be a regular part of one’s wellness routine.