Sexual health checks in a new relationship

The beginning stages of any new relationship is typically spent getting to know your partner and vice versa. From likes and dislikes to family history. Very often, however, people neglect delving into the necessary conversations around sexual history. This can be potentially dangerous, especially if you and your partner are sexually active. This week Moneybags asks when the right time is to go for health checks as a couple in a new relationship.

The best time according to experts to get tested is before you engage in any sexual activity. This is around the time that you should start discussing and sharing your sexual history with your partner. With this you should be talking about whether or not you have previously gone for any sexually transmitted infections (STI) or HIV tests. This is usually where it is suggested that couples, in order to make sure that they are both safe, make plans to go get tested together.

Needed health tests

“It is extremely important to ensure that both partners can protect one another from infections and associated complications,” states Alderman JP Smith mayoral committee member for Safety and Security and Social Services.

Smith urges that both partners should check their HIV status and also have tests done to check for other STIs.

Among the most popular sexually transmitted diseases according to the City of Cape Town’s statistics are HIV, gonorrhoea, herpes and syphilis.

Where can testing be done?

While doctors, pathology labs and private clinics are an option, this is often a pricey alternative to just getting tested at your local community clinic of choice, as well as the various free family planning clinics. For more information on where your local clinic is visit the City of Cape Town’s site.

Another alternative is visiting your local Clicks clinic.

In addition to the free testing, counselling is provided at City clinics before and after testing. This is a vital added service to prepare couples for both the physical tests and the potential outcomes.

There are various ways to test for STI’s, according to Better 2 Know testing centre, these include:

Blood Tests

  • HIV
  • Herpes I/II
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Syphilis

Urine Tests

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Herpes I/II (Current Infection)
  • Ureaplasma
  • Mycoplasma
  • Gardnerella
  • Trichonomas

Swab Tests

  • HPV
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea

Throat Swab

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea

Rectal Swab

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea

Important to note is that HIV test results are typically instant, while some of the other tests may require a 1-5 day waiting period for results, says Better 2 Know.

STI symptoms may vary and if one does not know what to look for, you could be oblivious to either you or your partner living with one. For this reason it is vital that you as a couple get tested.

Some STDs are little more than a nuisance, while others are potentially life-threatening. In the same way some are easily treated and eliminated, while others can be more persistent and require long-term medical treatment.

“If there is even the slightest possibility that you are infected, you owe it to yourself and to your sexual partners to consult your GP and have yourself tested,” Dr Jacques Badenhorst told Clicks clinics.

Undeniably a big step in any new relationship, getting tested with your partner can seem both a daunting and awkward experience, but also one that can inevitably bring you closer to one another and cement the trust.