Where to find the best LGBTIQ sexual health services - Frank

For many the idea of a sexual health check-up is awkward and uncomfortable. But for those of us with diverse sexual orientation, gender, or sex, the thought of sharing the intimate details of our sex lives and showing our bodies to a stranger can be somewhat daunting. We worry whether we’ll get the respect we deserve, creating a fear that can lead us to not taking the best care of ourselves.

Rest assured, there are plenty of LGBTIQ friendly health providers available. Take charge and find a doctor who you can speak to openly and honestly about your body and the sex you have.

Do I even need a sexual health check-up?

The short answer is yes. Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) aren’t picky. STIs don’t care who you have sex with, how you identify, or what your body looks like. All of us covered under that big, beautiful LGBTIQ rainbow are at risk of an STI when engaging in unprotected sexual activity whether it’s with our bits, mouths, sex toys, or fingers.

Getting tested regularly for STIs is an important part of sexual health, whether or not you are experiencing symptoms. STIs often have no symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to get tested. Sexual health check-ups are easy and are often provided free or at low cost.

If you’re sexually active, be sure to get a regular sexual health check-up at least once a year. In addition, get tested if:

  • You’ve had unprotected sex with someone new
  • You have a partner who’s been diagnosed with an STI
  • You have any STI symptoms
  • You and your partner want to stop using condoms and other protection methods

If you want to check your risk for an STI, you can fill out a questionnaire online privately and confidentially at Am I OK? before you book an appointment.

Finding a doctor

Nothing you say will shock or embarrass your doctor or nurse. They’ve heard it before and are trained to provide non-judgemental care regardless of your background, age, gender, sexual identity, or anatomy.

There are also specific LGBTIQ friendly sexual health services with trained doctors and nurses. It may feel more comfortable to talk to someone who you’re confident can understand the type of sex you’re having and will assess your risk based on your personal sexual history and anatomy.

So how do you find LGBTIQ friendly providers? If you’ve already got a great GP you are comfortable with, you can always head there for a sexual health check-up, but some people prefer to see a different doctor for their sexual health check-up.

A great place to start is asking your network of friends if they have a recommendation. You can also go to your local sexual health or Family Planning clinic—find your closest here.

There are also places to find LGBTIQ friendly practices and resources online. Below are a just a few links to get you started.

The check-up

You’ve found your perfect doc. Next stop: the check-up. We’ve talked about what to expect in general during a sexual health check-up here and here, but a few things are worth repeating.

It’s standard for the doctor or nurse to ask you a few questions about your sexual history. It is your decision which questions you want to answer.

But you’ll get a more ‘made to order’ experience if you are comfortable sharing. The more information you provide, the better the doctor or nurse can assess your risk, decide what STI tests you might need, and advise you on the best way to protect yourself from STIs in the future.

Here’s the thing—health professionals are bound by privacy and confidentiality laws. So, everything you talk about is confidential and cannot be shared without your consent. The exception to this is if the doctor or nurse has serious concerns about your or someone else’s safety.

A bit about the actual tests themselves: STI testing may be done by a urine test, a swab, a blood test, or a physical examination. The type of test depends on what the doctor or nurse feels you are at risk of. A physical examination is usually only done if you have symptoms. If you need a swab test, you may even be able to swab yourself.

A note to those of us with a cervix—if you’re 25 or older, check with your provider whether it’s time for a Cervical Screening Test.

If you do have an STI, your doctor will let you know what you need to do. You’ll have to let your sexual partners from the past six months know so that they too can be tested and treated if needed. For advice on how to make it easier to tell them visit the let them know website.

No worries, you’ve got this!

Sometimes you get into an appointment and everything you want to talk about goes right out of your head. Sadly, we’re not at the point where nurses and doctors can read our minds. A great way to prepare for your check-up is to write down the information you want to share and the questions you have beforehand. That way you’ll have something to refer to if your mind goes blank. While you’re there, feel free to take notes.

If you find that you have lots of things to talk about and you can’t fit it all in to your visit, you can always book another appointment to discuss the things you didn’t get around to.

One final thing: if you’re feeling nervous, feel free to bring along a friend you feel comfortable with. They can help you remember what you want to talk about, hold your hand when you need it, and don’t have to come into the appointment with you.

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