Part of staying healthy is becoming sexually healthy and making sure that you are doing everything you can to keep your body in good shape. It is really important to know what your genitals look and feel like when they are healthy so that you know when something might be wrong and can get medical attention. There are some things you can do on your own to take care of your sexual health. For other things you’ll need to see a healthcare provider.
Young women should start getting regular gynecological exams, including pap smears, breast exams, and/or tests for STDs when they start having oral, vaginal, or anal sex or when they turn 18 — whichever happens first. To find a gynecologist near you, look on www.acog.org. To find a local family planning clinic, check www.nfprha.org.
Young men should start getting regular sexual health exams from a general practitioner or urologist that include testicular exams and tests for STDs when they start having oral, vaginal, or anal sex or when they turn 18 — whichever happens first.
It’s also important to do self-exams of your breasts or testicles to check for lumps, pain, and/or discharge. If you notice any of these, see a healthcare professional right away. While breast cancer is uncommon in young women, most testicular cancer occurs in males between the ages of 15 and 40. For more information about self exams, check out www.cancer.org and visit breast self exam and testicular self exam pages for more information and step by step instructions.