Sexual Health

Learn about sexual health and how to keep yourself and your partner safe during sex.

Safe Sex:

  • is consensual. Consent is freely given (no coercion involved), reversible (you can change your mind), informed (there should be no surprises, you should know about each other’s STI status), enthusiastic (if you’re not really into it or excited, it’s not consensual) and specific (consent to do one thing is not consent to do something else). Learn more about consent on our consent resource page.
  • involves the use of barriers. The most common or popular is external condoms for people with a penis. Dental dams are a barrier option for performing oral sex on someone with a vulva, and vaginal/front hole condoms are an alternative to external condoms for penis-in-vagina sex.

Take a look at this video about dental damns.

What is an STI?

  • An STI is a sexually transmitted infection. They can be passed through oral sex, anal sex, penis-in-vagina sex, kissing, touching, contact with bodily fluids, childbirth and breastfeeding (depending on the STI).
  • STIs are often transmitted through unsafe sex without barriers (condoms, dental dams). Many STIs are asymptomatic for months, which means someone could be spreading STIs to others without realising it.
  • STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV), trichomoniasis, hepatitis B, pubic lice, pelvic inflammatory disease, molloscum contagiosa, lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), HIV/AIDs and chancroid.

It is important to get tested regularly to stay informed about your STI status and prevent spreading them to others.

Common types of STI's

Syphilis is highly contagious and is commonly transmitted through skin to skin contact. There are 3 stages of syphilis. The first stage is highly contagious and symptoms usually include the development of a sore on the genitals, mouth or anus. This stage usually lasts from 4-12 weeks. The second stage is also highly contagious and symptoms may include developing a rash, flu-like symptoms and hair loss. This stage usually occurs about 2-4 months after first initially contracting syphilis and can last up to two years. The third stage can include developing severe complications that affect the brain and the heart. At this stage, infection is not contagious.

Chlamydia can sometimes be referred to as the ‘silent infection’ because those that do contract it, do not often show signs or symptoms. If symptoms are present, for people with vulvas, these can include unusual vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding, and experiencing pain in the lower abdomen and during sex.

For people with a penis, symptoms can include discharge from the penis, discomfort when urinating and sore, swollen testes. Chlamydia can be contracted when a person has unprotected sex with someone who has the infection.

Gonorrhea most commonly affects the genital area. Symptoms for people with vulvas can include experiencing pain while urinating and pain during sex. Symptoms for people with a penis might include a burning sensation while urinating, discharge from the penis and swelling and pain in the testes. It may also affect the throat and anus but this is less common and symptoms are often not present. Transmission commonly occurs through having unprotected sex.

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two forms of HSV. These are HSV1 and HSV2. HSV1 occurs more commonly around the mouth and HSV2 occurs in and around the genitals. Common symptoms include developing blisters, having cracks in the skin and experiencing pain and swelling in the genital area. Genital herpes is spread through skin to skin contact and can be transmitted through vaginal, oral and anal sex.

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They commonly appear around the genitals and anus. Warts may appear flat or raised and can be clustered together. Genital warts can be spread by having unprotected sex or through skin to skin contact.

How to get tested for an STI

Visit a sexual health clinic or your general practitioner to get tested for an STI.

Getting tested for an STI is not as daunting as many people think and can involve a:

  • Urine sample
  • Blood test
  • Vaginal swab
  • Throat or mouth swab
  • Anal swab if you have anal sex

For more information and a detailed step by step process visit this website.

Testing locations

Below are a few places located in the areas surrounding the La Trobe campuses. This is not an extensive list by any means, just a guide to get you started.

Melbourne locations

Only a short walk away from campus, Latrobe University Medical Centre is located on the corner of Plenty Road and Kingsbury Drive. They offer many services including STI checks and can offer contraceptive advice and counselling. You can find more information here

LaTrobe University Medical Centre

Located at 580 Swanston Street in Carlton, the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre offers STI testing and treatment. They also offer free condoms, lubricants and dams to help prevent the transmission of STI’s. Services offered here are also free being funded by the government and Medicare.

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre

Located at 200 Hoddle Street, Abbotsford. They offer STI testing and treatment services as well as HIV testing and counselling. All services provided are currently being bulk billed for Medicare cardholders.

Thorne Harbour

Rural and regional STI testing locations

Located at 165-171 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo. Offers free STI testing and has a female GP on certain days.

Bendigo Community Health Services

A  private sexual health clinic located in the city of Shepparton providing testing for all common STIs. Once a sample is taken results are available within 1 to 5 working days. Bookings can be made online and results are also available through an online portal.

Better2Know

Based at the Mildura Base Public Hospital which is located at  2/125 Pine Ave, Mildura. Young people aged 25 and under have access to a sexual health clinic providing free STI testing and management.

Headspace Mildura

A confidential and free service that provides information on STIs. The service focuses on young people, men and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people although all others are still welcome.

Albury Sexual Health Service

Location independent services

If you are unable to attend a clinic you can order an STI self-screening kit online. There is a cost involved, however, it is available conveniently and discreetly.

Smart Health

Contraception

Types of contraception:

  • Birth control pills
  • Condoms and dams
  • Surgical procedures (vasectomy, contraceptive implant)
  • IUD
  • Vaginal ring
  • Diaphragm
  • Tubal Ligation

Contraception is defined as the intentional prevention of conception through the use of various devices, sexual practices, chemicals, drugs or surgical procedures. Therefore, there are many different types of contraception used by all genders when having sexual intercourse without conceiving. Examples of this include condoms and dams, prescription medicines, contraceptive implants etc.

The most common type of contraception used by people with penises are condoms. A condom is a device that is placed over the penis during sex to stop semen entering the vagina, minimising the chances of conceiving to just 2%. Another common contraception method for this group is getting a vasectomy. Vasectomies are a surgical procedure where the person’s vasa deferntia are cut and tied to prohibit sperm from releasing from the penis during sex.

The most common contraceptive used by vulva-owners is the birth control pill. The pill is most often taken orally and acts to stop ovaries from producing an egg monthly. The birth control pill helps not only to prevent conceiving but also regulates hormones and can prevent period pain with a success rate of 91%.

Another type of contraception option for people with vulvas includes intrauterine devices (IUDs). An IUD is a small device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUD’s work by releasing copper into the womb, increasing the mucus that surrounds the egg, stopping fertilisation.

Another option is the contraceptive implant (Implanon). The implant is inserted into the inner upper arm and it works by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month. The implant is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

You can find condoms at many convenient locations such as supermarkets, pharmacies, and even petrol stations. Dams can be trickier to find but are commonly found at pharmacies and sexual health clinics including the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre. For IUDs and other contraception methods, please speak to your GP.

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Supports and resources

Internal supports

  • Safer Community: Contact Safer Community if witness or experience unacceptable behaviour
  • Counselling Support: Provides counselling support on a range of issues that may be affecting a person’s wellbeing.
  • LGBTIQA+ Health and Wellbeing: Dedicated support for the La Trobe LGBTIQA+ community
  • Use our La Trobe University Crisis Line for Out-of-Hours Mental Health and Wellbeing Support. Phone 1300 146 307 or text 0488 884 100. This service operates 5pm-9am on weekdays and 24 hours during weekends and public holidays.

External supports