When you go to your doctor for your annual checkup, they will probably ask you if you are sexually active. If you have never been asked this before, it can be confusing. After all, why does your doctor want to know about your personal life? You assumed that he or she was supposed to give you a general physical exam, but the question surprises you.
Your doctor needs to know if you are sexually active so that he or she can determine which tests to run. They may also want to make sure that you are taking care of your sexual health by using protection. If you have never been asked about your sexual activities before, you may not know what sexually active means. Does it mean petting or oral sex? Does masturbation count? We will cover the definition of sexually active and explain what your doctor is asking about so that you can figure out how to answer this question.
What Does Sexually Active Mean?
One of the most common questions to hear on your annual physical is about whether you are sexually active or not. Your doctor is trying to figure out if you have had sexual contact with another person. This will let your doctor know if you are at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or if you could potentially be pregnant.
In general, this question means if you are sexually active with another person. Masturbating or using sex toys on your own is generally not a concern. They want to know if there has ever been any genital contact between you and another person or any type of sexual fluid exchange.
Each time you have sex, you have a chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. If you are female, you also could potentially become pregnant. Because of this, your doctor may want to do an STD screening or a pregnancy test to make sure that you are not pregnant or carrying a sexually transmitted disease. If your doctor is about to prescribe birth control or any other medication, they will want to know that you are not pregnant because some medications could put your pregnancy at risk.
If you have never had actual sexual intercourse before, you may not be aware if your activities actually classify as sexually active or not. In general, your doctor wants to know if you are doing any activity that could lead to an STD or pregnancy. If what you are doing falls under that category, then you are considered sexually active.
Vaginal or Anal Sexual Intercourse
This is one of the most obvious ways to know if you fit the definition of sexually active. If you have had anal or vaginal sex, then you are considered sexually active. If there has been any genital contact between you and another person, you could potentially contract a sexually transmitted disease. Some of the potential risks of sexual activities include:
– Bacterial Vaginosis
Fingering and Hand Jobs
If someone fingers you with an ungloved finger or you finger someone else, there is a slight risk of sexually transmitted diseases. This could occur if you touch your partner’s genitals before touching your own. If you have touched the exposed genitals or body fluids of someone else, then you have technically been sexually active.
Dry humping refers to when you make the motions as if you are having sexual intercourse, but you are still wearing your clothes. If you are just wearing underwear, there is a very, very slight chance that body fluid could transfer through the thin cloth. There is a slight chance of catching diseases like herpes, scabies, HPV or pubic lice from doing this.
Oral sex counts as being sexually active because there is an exchange of bodily fluids. Your saliva and the mucous membranes in your gums, tongue and cheek directly contact the bodily fluids and mucous membranes in the other person’s genital area. This means that you are at risk for STDs like hepatitis, cytomegalovirus, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes simplex and HIV.
If your doctor asks if you have been sexually active, then they are not just asking if you have had intercourse. He or she wants to know if you could potentially be at risk for having a sexually transmitted disease or a pregnancy. Many activities other than just sexual intercourse could lead to an STD, so make sure to let your doctor know if you have been sexually active in any way.
Does Being Sexually Active Mean That You Are No Longer a Virgin?
Being sexually active and being a virgin are entirely different things. You could still be a “virgin” and never engage in vaginal intercourse, but still be sexually active. Some ladies use anal sex, oral sex, petting or other activities so that they do not have vaginal intercourse. While this still may fit your definition of being a virgin, you are still at risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases. You need to tell your doctor that you are a virgin, but you have been sexually active. Your doctor needs to know so that he or she can make sure that you have not contracted any sexually transmitted disease.
Your doctor may then want to do tests like a visual exam of the genitals, a lab test for an infection, a pelvic exam or a pap smear. While a physical exam may not be comfortable, you need to let your doctor know about your sexual activities so that he or she can make sure that you are in good health.
What If It Has Been a Long Time Since I Had Sex?
If you have not had sex for a long time, the question about being sexually active may confuse you. In general, you will want to tell your doctor if you are currently sexually active and when you were last sexually active. For example, if you are not currently sexually active, but you had sex a year ago, you should just tell your doctor that.