Sexual Health

You might not always know that you've got a bug. They can be tricky little critters and hide in all sorts of places. The best thing to do is get tested regularly and to talk to a trusted GP or sexual health nurse. Be aware of the common bugs you might be exposed to through sexual contact and remember that bugs can be easily passed on even through skin to skin contact, from blowjobs, or even from spitting onto the junk of another sexual partner. Get tested regularly and read below for some more information about common bugs.

CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection. It takes up residence in your junk and sometimes in the throat (if fucking without condoms is something you’ve been up to). It’s not uncommon for a person to have chlamydia and no symptoms what-so-ever. Only way to really know is to test for it.

Symptoms will depend on the plumbing you’re working with so here’s our guide to help assess whether you need to go get that thing checked out:

Own and operate a cock? Infection with chlamydia may have you feeling :

  • pain or swelling of the testes
  • discomfort when passing urine
  • redness at the opening or abnormal discharge

Own and operate a vagina? Infection with chlamydia may have you feeling:

  • discomfort when passing urine
  • lower abdominal pain and light spotting or bleeding
  • presence of an abnormal discharge

Left untreated Chlamydia may cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). The vagina is like a gateway to the uterus so PID may lead to infertility if treatment isn’t sorted.

A simple course of antibiotics will fix a bout of chlamydia. Azithromycin or doxycycline should do the trick. Touchbase with your sexual health clinic or doctor for testing and treatment.

CRABS

Not to be confused with the kind found near the ocean, these Crabs are actually tiny mites. Known as phthirus pubic they love hanging out with a group of their mates, at pubic hair base camp.  Although their preference may be for the groin, crabs don’t mind a beard, the armpit, chest hair or for that matter eyelashes, as a place to call their home either. Where there is hair you’ll find the phthirus pubic mite making its nest.

A bout of crabs is likely to cause a burning itch to the area in question and may take anywhere from three days up to several weeks for symptoms to occur. They’re easy to catch too, with potential risk being any close contact (skin-to-skin), sharing of clothes, bed linen or your towel with those harbouring the nuisance stow-away.

You treat crabs with any genital lice shampoo or cream readily available at your local pharmacy. At the time of treatment you need to wash all bed linen, towels and your clothing in hot soapy water. Sexual partners and anyone in close physical contact should also be treated. It is advisable to repeat the treatment after seven days. If you’re worried about a recent exposure or simply wanting to get tested, visit your doctor or sexual health clinic.

GONORRHEA

Blow jobs, arse play or fisting for that matter is a sure bet for the transmission of gonorrhea between sexual partners.

Gono affects the urethra or cervix and if left untreated may lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and infertility. Symptoms will depend on the site of infection and it’s not uncommon for anal or throat gonorrhea to be present without any symptoms.

Own and operate a cock? Gonorrhea may cause:

  • discomfort when passing urine
  • a thick discharge from the arse
  • a thick, yellow or white discharge or redness around the opening
  • a dry or uncomfortable sore throat

Own and operate a vagina? Gonorrhea may cause:

  • discomfort when passing urine
  • a thick discharge from the arse
  • a dry or uncomfortable sore throat
  • unfamiliar discharge or irregular bleeding
  • abdominal or pelvic discomfort experienced during penetrative sex

If you test positive for gonorrhea or are a contact of someone with gonorrhea, you can be treated with antibiotics- both an injection and an oral antibiotic are used to treat gonorrhea. TouchBase with your sexual health clinic or doctor for testing and treatment.

HEP A+B

HEP A and B are from a family of virus known as Hepatitis and regardless of the letter (whether it’s A or B or C), Hepatitis causes an inflammation of the liver.

HEP A is passed along when tiny particles of shit that carry the virus, get into your mouth. How did that happen? Perhaps you’ve engaged in a form of anal play like rimming. Or you’ve had your hands on/in the arse of someone infected with the virus and not washed those hands thoroughly after the act.

Symptoms for both HEP A + B can be similar. Mostly these resemble symptoms similar to when you’ve got a mild-to-moderate bout of the flu. Others may include nausea and abdominal pain, vomiting, joint or muscle pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes or urine).

HEP A - Symptoms can take 2 - 7 weeks to appear but infection will generally clear within the month. On rare occasions people may be ill for several months.

HEP B is transmitted through any contact with the blood or cum or vaginal fluid of an infected person. Some activities such as fucking without a condom, oral sex, or the sharing of injecting equipment, toothbrushes and razors pose a risk for onward transmission.

HEP B - Symptoms can take 1 - 6 months before showing up and some people may have no symptoms at all. Most people who acquire HEP B as an adult will clear the virus and become immune after, but those that don’t and develop chronic HEP B, are at risk of developing liver cancer.

Treatment for HEP A is largely symptomatic as the virus will eventually clear on its own. Treatment for HEP B can be complicated and some of the drugs used to treat HIV are used to treat HEP B. Both HEP A & B are entirely preventable- there are safe and effective vaccines available and the HEP B vaccine is free for men who have sex with other men (MSM) in Victoria.

If you’re worried about a recent exposure, want to be tested or vaccinated  talk to your doctor or sexual health nurse. 

HEP C

HEP C is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver and can result in chronic liver disease for some people. HEP C is passed on through direct contact with contaminated blood. Transmission can occur through shared injecting equipment, toothbrushes or razors. Anal sex without a condom is one way in which the HEP C virus can be transmitted sexually. Risk factors will increase if you’re fisted or at it hell-for-leather-for-who-knows-how-many hours. Basically any situation which involves exposure to blood, bleeding or broken skin is a potential risk for the transmission of HEP C.

Many people acquire HEP C without experiencing any symptoms. Others may feel like they have the flu or develop nausea and abdominal pain in the early stages of infection. Some people are able to clear the virus from their body up to 12 months after infection, but others may develop chronic infection. Chronic infection can lead to liver disease.

HEP C is detected with a HEP C antibody test (that’s a blood test). If you’re worried about a recent exposure or simply wanting to get tested, visit your doctor or sexual health clinic.

For a handy explanation guide on how HEP C is passed on through anal sex visit AIDSMAP.

HERPES

Genital herpes is caused by HSV or the Herpes Simplex Virus. The virus gains entry to the body through membranes in the genital tract, mouth and arse. It enters adjacent nerve tissue and sets up shop, making a nice little home for itself - for life.

Herpes is kept in control by the immune system and many people will go years without hearing a peep out of ol’ herpes. It’s only when certain factors like trauma to the skin, or a weakened immune system occur that the virus releases particles onto the skin and voila! there you have it - recurrent infection.

It is possible for a person to have the herpes simplex virus and not even know it. Some unlucky folk can have outbreaks of herpes so severe that painful ulcers, difficulty passing urine, muscular aches, headache and fever accompany its arrival. Herpes is at its most infectious when small blisters appear on the junk, thighs or *clutches pearls*- arsehole of someone infected with HSV.

Treatment is with antiviral medications. Your doctor or local sexual health centre is best placed to advise you on the most appropriate course of treatment for you.

HPV

The Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses (more than 100 types) which cause infection on the skins surface. Certain types of HPV cause genital warts. These present as growths or bumps on your junk, around the arse, on the cervix or in the groin and thighs. HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact, so getting sexy with someone carrying the virus has potential risks associated.

GARDASIL is a vaccine available in Australia that can prevent infection from four types of HPV – two of which cause cervical cancers and the others, genital warts. Vaccines are provided free of charge through school vaccination programs but if schooling seems but a distant memory then you can always chat with your doctor or Community Health Centre about where to get vaccinated for HPV.

It is advisable to seek medical advice if you suspect that you may have HPV. Ask your doctor for further explanations on the treatment of genital warts including the costs and likely benefits.

SCABIES

Scabies! That’s what an infestation of the tiny sarcoptes scabiei mites gets called. These little trouble makers burrow under your skin, lay their eggs and build tiny empires chock full of future generation sarcoptes scabiei. Passed on by close contact (skin-to-skin), scabies can also be transmitted through any contact with the towels, bed linen and even underwear of a person housing the mites.

Scabies prefer warmer areas of the body for their homelands, like armpits, groin and the spaces in-between your fingers and toes. You’ll notice an infestation within the first four weeks from the silvery lines left on the skin where these mites have burrowed.

Treatment for scabies can be performed with a number of lotions available from the pharmacy. At the same time that you’re treating yourself, you gotta wash all that bed linen and your towels as well as every single item of clothing you own in hot, soapy water  and remember to dry everything well. Partners or anyone in close physical contact should do the same. Note that the itch from scabies may last up to four weeks after successful treatment.

If you’re worried about a recent exposure or simply wanting to get tested, visit your doctor or sexual health clinic.

SHIGELLA

Shigella is from a group of bacteria which cause nasty bowel infections, like the ones you get on Contiki tour in some far-flung, exotic destination. Shigella is extremely infectious and lives in the shit of an infected person.

During sex, tiny particles of poo can get onto the hands. This happens whilst fucking, fisting, fingering or through handling condoms or sex toys. It’s then a matter of hand-to-mouth. Gut infections are passed on through sexual activity but also through food and water.

Symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhoea (sometimes with blood and or mucous), fever and nausea. These appear between twelve hours and four days after exposure. A person with shigella may experience mild to severe symptoms and some may experience none at all. In most cases recovery takes between four and seven days.

If you come down with diarrhoea, drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration and consider seeing your Doctor. Replace your electrolytes, this helps to re-hydrate. Treatments that slow down diarrhoea may be more damaging than good and antibiotics can be used to treat shigella.  In severe cases, especially for people living with HIV, hospitalisation may be needed. Avoid sex until you’ve clocked up at seven days post-symptoms.

SYPHILIS

Syphilis is a highly contagious, bacterial infection and anything from skin-to-skin contact with an infected area through to penetrative sex poses a risk. Using condoms when fucking will greatly reduce your chances of contracting this STI. Not every carrier of syphilis has symptoms and infection occurs across three stages. Symptoms vary but the major things that you should be on the look out for are:

Stage 1: a hard, painless sore on the genitals, gum or other sites of sexual contact  which will disappear within 4 weeks.

Stage 2: a rash can appear on your torso, palms of your hand and soles of your feet. Fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle and joint aches, and general tiredness are also signs of secondary syphilis infection.

Stage 3: untreated, syphilis remains in your body and begins to damage the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms or you’ve recently gotten sexy with a person who has tested positive for syphilis, see your sexual health clinic or doctor for testing and treatment immediately. Syphilis is easily treated with antibiotics.