When was the last time you had a sexual health test?
If you’re struggling to answer that question, or if you’ve never been checked out at all, you aren’t the only one. According to Hologic, a medical tech company, almost a third of young Aussies have never had a sexual health check before.
From Hologic’s research, 1 in 3 young Aussies feels too embarrassed to speak about their sexual health with a healthcare provider. And while reasons behind this will vary, it can be assumed that many of these issues stem from a lack of sexual health education at school, limited awareness around when you should go get a sexual health checkup and the stigma surrounding STIs in general.
This is where the sexual health app Geni comes in.
What is Geni?
Designed to empower young people, particularly those who identify as women, Geni works to ensure that its users have relevant and up-to-date information about all things sexual health. By doing so, the app hopes to give young Aussies the confidence to discuss their sexual health openly in a safe space with a healthcare provider.
Hologic, a known global leader in women’s health, is supporting the development of Geni and its initiatives to help encourage young people to invest more time into their sexual health.
Aggie Cox, the Marketing Director ANZ at Hologic, said that Geni’s vision is to act as a conversation starter, especially for those who might be unsure of whether or not they should go and get a sexual health test.
“Geni is a good starting point to learn more about the information they need, before going to the next step of looking for professional healthcare advice,” she explained.
If you’re someone who might be nervous about going and getting check-ups, Geni will allow you to take control of your sexual health.
How Geni works
The app works to give users as much information as they need about their sexual health and the associated risks while also taking the awkwardness out of discussing this topic.
When you first download the app, you’ll be invited to complete an optional and anonymous questionnaire that covers some of the topics that a healthcare provider might ask before conducting sexual health tests.
The answers provided will allow Geni to determine when you should book a sexual health check, which a Hologic spokesperson told us is generally: once every 12 months, if there has been a change in sexual partners, or if a person is experiencing any symptoms.
Obviously, this will differ from person to person though, which is why having a personalised system is so great.
How to get the most out of the sexual health app
What’s great about Geni is how easy it is to use the app. It’s got a bunch of helpful features that will help keep users informed about their sexual health. Not only that, but the visuals are also really stunning so it’s a great experience all around.
Here are some of the app’s most handy features:
One of the ways that Geni ensures that its users stay on top of their sexual health is by having visual reminders.
Users can opt-in to have the app send them non-invasive reminders letting them know when they should consider booking a sexual health check. If you choose to get reminders, Geni will hook up (pun intended) with your phone’s default calendar to set up these dates so you can go in and check when it might be time to get tested.
Speaking about your sexual life can be super uncomfortable for some, so many people choose to not talk about it all, meaning they may not realise when they might be at risk of getting an STI.
While it’s always best to discuss your health and personal boundaries with potential partners, this risk calculator is an additional asset you may find helpful.
The risk calculator is such a simple yet effective tool for staying on top of your sexual health. All you need to do is answer a few questions about your sexual health history and Geni will calculate the level of risk you might be at. Geni will talk you through the various risks and give you some extra information about STIs in general in a non-judgemental way.
The language used by Geni is conversational and welcoming and talks you through what it means to be sexually active.
The risk calculator is also a convenient way to break down that awkwardness associated with talking about your sexual life. By being asked questions by Geni in a way that isn’t confronting, and knowing the answers are anonymous, makes it easier to start this important process.
It also normalises talking about your sexual health, your sexual activity and STIs in a safe space.
Another factor to consider when looking at low sexual health checkup rates is comfort. If you’re concerned your healthcare provider will make you feel embarrassed or judged, you’re less likely to visit them, right?
Dedicated to the cause of breaking down the stigma around sexual health, Geni has a bank of trusted healthcare providers that can suit the user’s needs.
These services also include female General Practitioners, LGBTQI+ friendly clinics and health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Obviously, if you’re comfortable with your current doctor/healthcare provider by all means continue going to them, but it’s helpful knowing you have some choices out there.
Sex ed FAQs section
One of the best parts about the app is the range of information it has, covering just about anything STI and sexual health-related.
Without having to feel any discomfort around asking these questions in person, Geni has stored answers to commonly asked questions about STIs, cervical screenings, the ins and outs of a sexual health consult and what symptoms to look out for.
They will also take you to various trusted websites where you can do further research.
It’s certainly preferable that you speak with a doctor about any health concerns you have, but this can act as a stepping stone of sorts.
How and when should you get a sexual health test?
As mentioned earlier, the recommended guidelines around how often you should get tested is about once a year, provided you haven’t had a change in sexual partners and aren’t experiencing any symptoms.
But as a Hologic spokesperson told us, lots of STIs don’t actually present any symptoms at all, making it even more important that people go and get checked at least once a year.
If you are experiencing any symptoms at all, then book an appointment with your healthcare provider immediately. Letting an STI run its course through your body may have potentially harmful effects on your health and leave long-lasting damage.
STIs have been on the rise in recent months, with Melbourne having a syphilis outbreak earlier this year. So it’s essential that you stay on top of your sexual health.
Starting a conversation about sexual health
Geni has essentially been created to help start the conversation about sexual health and hopefully aid young people in talking about their sex life in a safe space.
Associate Professor Melissa Kang from the Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney told us that over the years young people that have been able to look after their sexual health have felt empowered, despite having to visit health professionals and talk about personal stuff.
Kang acknowledged that taking that first step is often the most uncomfortable, but said that it does start to become easier the more you get into the habit of regular sexual health checks.
“I love it when young people feel confident to take charge of their sexual health,” she shared.
Geni will hopefully help loads of young people to take that first step towards feeling more confident to talk to their doctors about their sexual health – and we’re certainly here for that.