Community pharmacies have long provided services related to sexual health through the provision of information and advice, in addition to a wide range of products.
These community pharmacies also are a primary source of emergency hormonal contraception, as well as providing advice on the safe and effective use of contraceptive methods and safe sexual practices.
Sexual health has some broad definitions but generally includes measures to reduce the prevalence of sexual problems and sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates, as well as unwanted pregnancies.
There are a large number of identified sexually transmitted infections and these include chlamydia, genital warts, pubic lice (‘crabs’), scabies, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes, hepatitis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
An STI can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact, and you can spread such infections regardless of who you are having sex with unless precautions are taken.
Pharmacies are active in helping to screen for sexually transmitted diseases and in Australia a very successful program of chlamydia screening has been developed. The focus on chlamydia is a reflection of its status as the most common notifiable bacterial infection in Australia and as a significant cause of infertility.
Nevertheless, sexually transmissible infections remain common in Australia, but sexual health services and counselling via community pharmacies – with a focus on prevention – can be a major factor in raising awareness of the issue and helping to reduce it.
As a consumer you can benefit from the accessibility through community pharmacy of emergency hormonal contraception, contraceptive support and advice, safer sex messages and information on testing to help reduce HIV/other STIs.
All of these services are of considerable benefit to the whole community.
This is because the accessibility of your community pharmacist as a qualified, trusted primary health provider is unparalleled; with extended hours, immediate consultations and more than 5500 locations throughout metropolitan and rural areas.
Many pharmacies now have private consultation rooms where customers can speak to their pharmacist or pharmacy staff away from other pharmacy customers and you should ask to use one of these if you want privacy.
Good sexual health is regarded by many people as being just as important as good physical health. Studies show the majority of sexually transmitted infections can be prevented. Sexual health includes far more than avoiding disease or unplanned pregnancy and is an integral aspect of your overall health and wellbeing.
Common sexual health disorders include:
- Reproductive system disorders
- Gynaecologic problems
- Urinary system problems
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction (ED), painful intercourse, and loss of sexual desire
- Concerns regarding “normal” or acceptable sexual behavior and lifestyles
- Birth control
Your community pharmacy can help you maximise your sexual health.