Sexual Health: Commonly Asked Questions

16th May, 2019 • 5 min read

What happens when I lose my virginity?

Everyone has a different experience of losing their virginity. For some women, having sex for the first time may stretch or tear the hymen (a thin piece of tissue that partially covers the vagina). This can feel uncomfortable or painful, but it is normal and nothing to worry about.

Engaging in foreplay and using a water-based lubricant can reduce discomfort and make the experience more enjoyable.

Some men may find that friction during sex irritates the penis. Using a lubricant can help to minimise discomfort.

It is possible to catch a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or get pregnant the first time you have sex, so make sure you use protection.

How do I know if I have an infection?

You may have an STI if you have the following symptoms:

  • pain when you pee
  • itching, burning or tingling around the genitals
  • blisters, sores, lumps, spots or skin growths around your genitals or anus
  • black powder or small white dots in your underwear
  • unusual discharge from the penis, anus or vagina
  • unusual vaginal bleeding

Symptoms can take days, weeks, months or even years to develop.

The only way to confirm that you have an STI is to get tested. You can do this by going to your doctor or a sexual health clinic, or by ordering an STI test online. You can order a free STI testing kit from SH:24.

Always make sure the STI test is from a reliable source. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor for advice.

Can I treat an STI at home?

It is best to see your doctor or visit a sexual health clinic if you have, or think you have, an STI. These infections usually require prescription medication.

STIs caused by bacteria can usually be cured with antibiotics. Viral STIs can be managed, but not always cured, with antiviral drugs.

Make sure you always follow the full course of treatment, even if your symptoms improve. Get retested when recommended. This can help prevent drug-resistant strains of STIs.

If you have concerns about the medication you are taking, speak to your doctor.

How do I know if I’ve got performance anxiety issues?

Performance anxiety issues affect everyone differently. It can cause symptoms, such as premature ejaculation, inability to orgasm, or

loss of interest in sex

Some men mistakenly think they have

erectile dysfunction
when they have performance anxiety. If you struggle to get and maintain an erection, but it only happens every now and again, it could be performance anxiety.

See your doctor if you’re concerned.

Is there a cure for gonorrhoea?

can be cured with a course of antibiotics. If you are diagnosed with gonorrhoea you must complete the course of medication you have been prescribed to stop the infection.

You will need to be tested again after you have finished taking the antibiotics because drug-resistant gonorrhoea is becoming increasingly common.

Can some medications cause erection problems?

Erection problems can be caused by a variety of factors. These include the narrowing of blood vessels in the penis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormones, and certain medications.

Can I get an STI from kissing?

Most STIs are transmitted through blood, semen, and vaginal fluids, so the majority can only be acquired through sexual contact of the genitals.

However, certain STIs can be transmitted through kissing. This includes a type of herpes simplex virus called HSV-1, also known as oral herpes, and

(CMV). HSV-1 can cause cold sores. You can get infected by kissing someone with a cold sore that isn’t yet healed. CMV can be spread by kissing someone with the infection.

Am I ready to have sex?

Choosing when to have sex for the first time is a very personal decision. Don’t feel pressured into having sex just because you think everyone else around you has already started having sex. There is nothing wrong with waiting until you know what you want, regardless of what other people say. There is no correct amount of time to wait before you have sex with a partner for the first time.

What is sexual health screening?

Sexual health screening is the process of getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some doctors offer tests for STIs, but others will refer you to a sexual health clinic.

You can make an appointment to visit a sexual health clinic.

Clinics typically offer tests for chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis.

Testing may involve taking samples (such as blood or urine samples), swabs from your urethra or vagina, and possibly an examination of your genitals.

Is masturbation healthy?

is completely normal and does not usually cause harm to your physical or mental health. You can masturbate alone or with a partner as part of a healthy sex life.

Your genitals can become sore, cut or bruised if you masturbate too roughly or use an object that can cause damage.

There is no risk of pregnancy or catching an STI if you masturbate on your own. If you are masturbating with a partner, use contraception to avoid the spread of STIs and prevent unwanted pregnancy. It is possible to catch an STI if you share sex toys with someone who has an STI. Always wash sex toys after use and put a new condom on them each time.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.