SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (STD) EXAMINATION: QUESTIONS

Usually the first thing that happens when you visit a health care provider is that he or she takes a medical history by asking a lot of questions about your health, your behavior (for instance, “Do you smoke?”), and your family’s health. When you are seeking advice about sexual health, some of the questions you will be asked may seem embarrassing. It may seem that a health care provider is prying, but that is usually not the case. These questions help the health care provider assess or religion on patients. To be effective, the health care environment must be supportive and nonjudgmental. If it is not, you your risk for a sexually transmitted infection. Remember that what you discuss is confidential. Here are a few of the questions you may be asked:

1. When was your last sexual contact with a partner? With your steady partner? With a casual partner?

2. What kind of sexual contact have you had? Oral? Anal? Genital? (Knowing where on the body you have had sexual contact will help the health care provider know where to look for evidence of infection.)

3. How many sexual partners have you had in the last two months? In the last twelve months? In your lifetime?

4. For heterosexual persons: Do you use any type of birth control, such as a condom, diaphragm or cervical cap, or birth control pills? For all sexually active persons: What method do you use to prevent STD transmission, such as condoms, spermicides, or dental dams? Did you use this method during your last sexual contact?

5. Are your partners male, female, or both? (Certain health care providers may use terms that label people in terms of their sexual orientation, such as gay or homosexual for those who have sex with same-sex partners, straight or heterosexual for those who have sex with opposite-sex partners, or bisexual for those who have sex with both male and female partners. This approach may make some people less willing to answer this question. Certain health care providers make assumptions; in other words, they may assume that if you are male, you only have sex with females. You must make clear what type of sexual practice you have engaged in, so that your health care provider will have accurate information.)

6. Are you concerned that your partner may be having sex with other partners?

7. Are you having any symptoms in the genital area?

8. Have you had a history of a sexually transmitted infection in the past, and if so, when? Have you ever been tested for STDs?

9. Do you use injection drugs? Do you have a sexual partner who uses injection drugs?

10. Have you ever had a blood transfusion?

11. Do your partners (or partner) have a history of sexually transmitted infections? Are they having symptoms now?

You will also usually be asked about your understanding of sexually transmitted infections—what causes them, how they are transmitted, and so on—and be given a chance to have all your questions answered.

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