Frequently Asked Questions

 I had unprotected sex. Could I be pregnant?

A. The only way to know if you are pregnant is to have a test. You can go to your local Sexual Health clinic or Family Planning clinic, or your own doctor. You can also buy a home pregnancy test from any chemist or most supermarkets. Tests are usually accurate three weeks after sex. If you are having unprotected sex or the contraception you are using fails (e.g. the condom broke) then there are a couple of things you need to consider. The emergency contraceptive pill (ECP, known also as the morning after pill) might be suitable. Remember that you need to take it within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, and the sooner the better. You may also be at risk of catching an STI (sexually transmissible infection), so you might want to consider a sexual health check-up as well. These are free at most clinics, but there may be a charge at your doctor – check first.

What is an STI? 
A Sexually Transmitted Infection.
There are a wide range of infections that a person can get through sexual contact with another person. Some STIs are bacterial and can be treated with antibiotics. Other STIs are viral infections. The only safe way to never be at risk of an STI is to never have sex. If you are going to have sex and want to make it safer here are a few tips:

  • Every time you have sex, use a condom with water-based lubricant - follow the instructions on the packet
  • Find out your partner’s sexual history and both have a sexual health  check-up before you decide to have sex together
  • Condoms used with a water-based lubricant are the most effective method of protection against STIs

I keep getting thrush. I treat it and then about a month later it comes back. How can I get rid of it completely?

While it is possible that you are suffering from thrush, it is also possible that it is something similar and thrush treatment will not work. You will need to see your doctor or nurse for diagnosis and correct treatment.

My partner told me that he/she once had chlamydia but had it treated. How could that affect me?

Provided both partners have treatment at the same time, once treated, chlamydia is completely gone. If your partner and their partner at the time were not treated together and continued having sex, your partner may have been re-infected. If this was the case, you may be at risk if you are having sex without using a condom. It is possible that the infection caused damage that could result in your partner becoming infertile. It really depends on how long your partner had it before treatment. Go to your Family Planning Clinic, Sexual Health Service, Youth Health Centre or your own doctor for a sexual health check-up. If you have had a recent change in partner / several partners, you might want to wait 3 months and return for a second check-up as some STIs can take a while to show up in a test.

If you have any symptoms, or feel something might be wrong, don’t wait - see someone.

How do I know if I have an STI or if my partner does?

The only way to know for sure is to have a test and then check back for the results. Some STIs take a while to show up on a test, ask your nurse or doctor about this. There are a number of different STIs with a wide range of possible symptoms and lots of different treatments. Some STIs have no symptoms (e.g. chlamydia).  A doctor or specialist nurse can diagnose and treat them.

It is best for both partners to be tested at the same time but don't wait to be tested if this isn't possible.

Head along to your local Family Planning Clinic, Sexual Health Service, Youth Health Centre, school nurse or your own doctor for a sexual health check-up. These are free at most places.

You can arrange it so that you are both allowed to see each other’s results which is a good idea to remove any doubt. However, results wil not be shared without your permission - tests are confidential.

If you have had a recent change in partner / several partners, you might want to wait 3 months and return for a second check-up as some STIs can take a while to show up in a test.

Condoms used with water-based lubricant offer the best method of protecting yourselves from STIs if you are sexually active. 

My new partner and I want to stop using condoms because we are going to use the pill instead. I was a virgin before but my partner has had sex with a few people before me. What should we do to make sure we are safe?

You should both get an STI checkup before you stop using protection. Some STIs can also be caught from skin to skin contact, so being a virgin doesn’t necessarily mean you are completely safe.

Head along to your local Family Planning Clinic, Sexual Health Service, Youth Health Centre, school nurse or your own doctor for a sexual health check-up. Check ups should be free at most places.

If you and your partner agree, you can request to see each other's results but this will not be done without your permission - results are confidential.

I have a wart on my hands. Can I pass these warts on when I masturbate?

It is possible, but not likely. There are hundreds of different types of warts and each type prefers a particular part of the body. If you are worried, talk to a nurse or doctor.

I have a wart on my hands. Can I pass these warts on when I “poke”  someone?

It is possible, but not likely. There are hundreds of different types of warts and each type prefers a particular part of the body. If you are worried, talk to a nurse or doctor.

I get cold sores. Can I pass these onto others if I give someone oral sex?

Yes. When the cold sore is at the tingling stage before it appears and when in blister form, it can be passed on, and even occasionally when you don’t have a cold sore, just from skin to skin contact.

I have had many sexual partners and now I am worried that I may have caught HIV as I keep getting colds and flu all the time. How do you know if you have HIV?

The only way to know for sure is to have a blood test. The fact that you are worried about it now is a good enough reason to get checked out. Remember that HIV can take years before it shows any signs or symptoms. However you may be run down for another reason. It would be good to go along to a Family Planning Clinic, Sexual Health Clinic or your own doctor for a discussion and sexual health check up.

If you have had sex with someone with HIV it may take three to six months before HIV would show up in a blood test so a repeat test might be advised. 

Remember the best prevention against HIV is to practice safer sex and use condoms.

Is spotting normal if I am sexually active?
Spotting is small amounts of blood between periods. Spotting is not a normal consequence of sexual activity, and whether or not you are sexually active let your doctor or nurse know. Spotting may be due to ovulation, birth control side effects, slight hormonal irregularities, infection, polyps, fibroids, cancer, or other uterine, cervical, hormonal or ovarian conditions.  The majority of the time it is nothing to worry about but it is important to check this out with your health professional.

Can my doctor tell if I've had an abortion, an STD or a miscarriage?

No but since this can affect your mental and physical health, it's important to let your doctor know about all your past medical problems and procedures.  If you come in with an infertility problem or pelvic pain - either of which can be related to miscarriage, an STI or complications from an abortion, your doctor will be better able to diagnose and treat you if he / she knows about your health history.

Is it normal to have a lot of pain during my period?
Painful periods, nausea and bad cramps for days on end are not all part of 'being a woman.'
If you have really bad periods, check it out with your doctor or nurse as there are things that can be done to help.

Is it normal to have never had an orgasm?

'A woman confessed to me that she was afraid to ask her doctor a question that she had been hiding from her husband for years', shares Dr. Tammy Nelson, a psychotherapist and author. 'She pretended with her girlfriends, that she could relate when they talked about their sex lives.  But inside, she couldn’t understand what all the fuss was – about orgasms!  She “wasn’t sure,” but she “didn’t think she’d ever had one.” I assured her that if she didn’t think she’d had one, then she probably hadn’t.  And that it made sense that she was afraid to ask her nurse or doctor about orgasms.  She said, “How do you ask your doc if you’ve ever had an orgasm before?  I’m a grown woman. I’m 34.  Surely everyone has had one by this time.  There must be something wrong with me" '.

A large percentage of women have never had an orgasm.  And studies show that almost 80 percent of women fake orgasms.  This actually prevents any discussion between partners about how to make an orgasm happen.  On average it takes anywhere from 7 to 20 minutes for a woman to have an orgasm from direct clitoral stimulation.  If a woman has never had an orgasm, she might not know this, and her partner might not either.  And, if she’s afraid to talk to her doctor or nurse about her concerns, it makes it difficult to determine whether the lack of orgasm is due to a lack of education and information or if something physical is preventing a woman from experiencing full genital stimulation.

I had unprotected sex last night. What should I do?

You can get emergency contraception (also known as the morning-after pill) from your sexual health clinic, doctor, school nurse, family planning or pharmacy. Some pharmacies provide free emergency contraception to women of all ages, including under-16s. In the Taupo District the emergency pill is free from your doctor and sexual health clinic for under 25 yr olds.
The morning-after pill can prevent you getting pregnant and you can take it up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, not just the morning after. But the sooner you take it, the more effective it is. Some pharmacies are open after hours so get it as soon as possible.
If you have had unprotected sex, you're also at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), so visit a GP or sexual health clinic to get tested. 
It is important that you have an STI check 3wks after having the emergency pill, and possibly a pregnancy test.

How do I know if I've got chlamydia?

Go for a sexual health check at your local Sexual Health or Family Planning clinic or your Doctor. Sexual health checks are usually free, especially if you are under 25.
Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed STI.  Many people with chlamydia have no symptoms at all.  If left untreated, it can cause problems later on. The new tests for chlamydia are very straightforward and you may not need a full examination. With women you can do a self-done swab and men do a urine test.

Can I get HIV without having sex?
The majority of HIV infection worldwide has been spread through sexual intercourse. The other main way is through needle-sharing by drug-users and, in the developing world, through childbirth or breastfeeding. There is a very small number of cases where HIV seems to have been transmitted by oral sex. Day-to-day living or working with someone with HIV is not a risk to anyone else because the virus is hard to catch, except by intimate contact with bodily fluids.

Read more about HIV and Aids.

You can help protect yourself against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by using a condom correctly every time you have sex.
The condom needs to be put on the penis (or inside the vagina, if it's a female condom) before there is any contact between the genitals.

At what age do you go through puberty?
Puberty describes all the physical changes that children go through as they grow into adults. Most people start to notice changes at around 11 years old, but there's no right or wrong time to start puberty. It might be sooner or it might be later, and this is normal. You can ask us for more information for girls and boys.

What's the average penis size?
Penis size varies from man to man, in the same way that everyone is a different height, weight and build. Most men's penises are somewhere around 9cm (3.75in) long when they’re not erect, but it’s normal for them to be shorter or longer than this. Some things can make your penis temporarily smaller, such as swimming or being cold.
Most penises are roughly the same size when they’re hard, between about 15 and 18cm (6-7in) long. You can’t make your penis larger or smaller with exercises or medication. 

What is circumcision?
Circumcision is an operation to remove the piece of skin (the foreskin) that covers the tip of the penis. Often it is done for religious reasons, but sometimes it can be that all the men in a family are circumcised and so the younger boys follow. If you have been circumcised, it's nothing to worry about. It won’t affect your ability to have sex. 

Female genital mutilation (also called female circumcision) is illegal in New Zealand and many countries around the world. It involves cutting off some or all of a girl’s external genitals, such as the labia and clitoris.

 I have spots on my penis and it itches. Is this normal?

If you've recently had sex without using a condom you may have picked up a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Visit a sexual health clinic or your doctor.

Some boys have normal lumps and bumps on their penis, and spots can also be caused by an allergy or irritation. But if you're worried, seek advice from a doctor or clinic. Medical people see problems like this every day, so there's nothing to be embarrassed about.

 Is it normal for my penis to smell fishy and have white bits behind the tip?
This can happen naturally from time to time. To prevent it happening, wash gently behind the foreskin if you have one (men who have been circumcised don’t have a foreskin) when you bath or shower. Use water, or water and a mild soap. If you're washing carefully and the symptoms don't go away, and/or you've had sex without a condom, you may have an STI. See a doctor, or visit a sexual health clinic.

What is sperm?
Sperm is produced in the testicles (balls) and released in fluid called semen during sexual activity. Every time a man ejaculates (comes) he can produce over 70 thousand sperm. But it only takes one sperm to get a girl pregnant, and that can happen before the boy ejaculates. This is because the fluid that comes out of the tip of his penis before he ejaculates (called pre-cum) can contain sperm. If you're having sex with a girl, always use contraception and condoms to prevent both pregnancy and STIs. Talk to your partner about what contraception they are using, and make sure that you use condoms too. If you’re having sex with a boy, always use condoms to stop yourself getting an STI or passing one on.

Is it normal to get an erection when you wake up in the morning?
Yes, most boys have an erection when they wake up in the morning, and they can get one when they're not expecting it during the day, even when they’re not sexually excited. This is a normal part of sexual development and growing up.

Is it normal for one testicle to hang lower than the other?
Yes, this is normal and nothing to worry about. But if you are worried, check it out with your doctor or nurse.

What is premature ejaculation?
This is when a boy or man ejaculates (comes) too quickly during sex. This is fairly common, especially among younger men, and can be due to nerves or over-excitement. Some people don’t worry about it, and some find that using a condom can help to delay ejaculation. Contact your doctor or sexual health clinic if you want more information / if it bothers you.

 Can a man pee while having sex?
No. During sex, a valve shuts the outlet tube from your bladder so that only sperm can pass through the tube (urethra), which you use to pee.

Why is it harder to ejaculate when you have sex a second time soon after the first?
If you have sex a second time straight after the first, it can take longer for you to reach orgasm (cum). This is normal. If you're worried about this, take a longer break after sex before you start again. Whether it's the first, second or tenth time you've had sex that day, always use a new condom to protect against pregnancy and STIs.

My girlfriend has got chlamydia and says I need to go for treatment but I've got no symptoms so what's the point?
Your girlfriend is right. It is very important that you go for treatment even if you have got no symptoms, because many people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you don't get treatment, then you will give this infection straight back to your girlfriend, and you may develop symptoms / problems if it is left untreated. Chlamydia can be a serious problem, particularly for women who can develop chronic pain or infertility if it is not treated. Visit your Sexual Health clinic or doctor for treatment.

Do you think that it’s worth me having a check up at a clinic regularly...I last went two years ago but I've had about six or seven partners since then...??
Yes a checkup would be a really good idea. A lot of sexually transmitted infections cause no symptoms and as you already know having a checkup is pretty straight forward. We would recommend a check after unprotected sex with a new partner. It is best to leave it for two weeks after unless you have symptoms.

I had sex with my boyfriend last night and we didn't have a condom with us. Can you tell me where I can get the morning after pill? Can I get it today, because I don't want to leave it too late?
Yes you will be able to get it today. If it is on the weekend you can get it from the after hours pharmacy or on-call doctor. Monday to Friday you can get it from your sexual health / family planning clinic, school nurse or doctor.

Emergency contraception ("the morning after pill") works for up to 72 hours after you have had unprotected sex but the sooner you use it the more effective it will be.

I had unprotected sex but I am on the pill so do I need to get a sexual health check?
Always be aware that every time you have unprotected sex you could be exposed to a sexually transmitted infection. If you are having casual relationships with different people, the best way to protect yourself from most infections is by using a condom.

 What about after taking the morning after pill? Do I need a checkup then as well?
Yes, the morning after pill does not protect you from infections. Make an appointment no sooner than 2 weeks after the episode of unprotected intercourse. You need to wait this long because some infections will not show up before 2 weeks. Using condoms prior to your checkup will protect you from most infections and is the best way to prevent further infection occurring.