11 of the strangest questions sexual health nurses have been asked

Bridie Pearson-Jones
Thursday 04 May 2017 12:00

There's really no such thing as a silly question when it come to sexual health.

Due to British prudishness and a lack of sexual health education at schools, it's not something we often talk about.

But embarrassment shouldn't stop anyone from getting checked up - after all, the nurses have almost definitely heard it all before.

However, some of the questions are - more unusual - than others.

Speaking to Refinery29 some STI nurses reveal the most surprising things they've been asked.

1. Can I prevent pregnancy by emptying the semen inside me?

This was asked after a woman had seen it as a storyline of Channel 4 show Catasrophe.

According to Nurse Darren, the answer is no.

Trying to physically remove semen that’s inside you following ejaculation is no guarantee that you won’t become pregnant. There is no way to remove all the sperm – and some sperm is released pre-ejaculation. It’s also worth pointing out sperm can live inside a woman after sex, sometimes for up to seven days.

2. Do I need to disinfect my sex toys after use?

According to Nurse Suzie, yes and no.

Cleaning a sex toy properly is very important for your health, but there’s usually no need to use antibacterial products.

Follow the recommended care guidelines, which should recommend washing them after every use using a mild, unscented soap.

This is even if you're only using it on yourself and not sharing with a partner. An unwashed toy can contaminate them with bacteria.

You can get an STI by using sex toys or other objects, but only if someone with an STI has used them before you. If you suspect this is the case, wash it thoroughly before use, or use a condom.

3. Can mutual masturbation give you an STI?

Yes, but there's a very low risk, according to nurse Darren.

There is a very low risk from using your hands on someone else and then yourself. But genital to genital masturbation can leave you exposed to things like herpes, HPV [genital warts], pubic lice [crabs] or syphilis.

4. Do I need to be worried about the number of partners I've had?

Worrying about sexually transmitted infections is an entirely separate issue that worrying about your 'number', according to Nurse Esther, which is why GUM and STI clinics don't ask you to disclose this number.

You can get an STI from just one partner. It comes down to praising safe sex. If you’re single and sexually active, especially if you’re having unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners, I would advise having a regular STI check – as often as every three months.


5.Should I be worried about how my vagina looks?

Stop worrying, the answer is no. Suzie says that 

There really isn’t any such thing as a ‘normal vagina’ that looks a certain way. I’m both surprised and saddened to be asked this because it shows how many women have been taught that a ‘healthy’ or ‘attractive’ vagina looks a very specific way, which has probably come from porn imagery. That is short inner labia that don't protrude, with a small, visible clitoris and – if Caucasian – a consistent light-toned skin.

The vulva, which is the set of external genitals that includes the clitoris and the labia, comes in many different sizes, shapes, colours, and other physical variations. So whether you’re wrinkly, smooth, flappy or bumpy, yours is ‘normal’. That said, if you notice a change in its appearance, especially if that is a redness, sores or other markings, or a change in discharge you should seek advice from an STI clinic.

6. Can a condom get ”lost” inside me?

No, neither a condom nor the contraceptive NuvaRing can get ”lost” inside a woman according to Suzie.

There’s no danger of something being pushed too far up in the vagina because the cervix, which is the narrow, lower end of the uterus, will block it from going any farther. If a condom comes off during sex you can reach inside the vagina and gently pull it out. If this happens there is a risk of STIs, and also pregnancy if the woman is not using another type of contraception. Your sexual health clinic can help.


Indy100 has also had a look around and we tracked down this awesome Reddit thread where a sexual health nurse answered some more unusual and frequently asked questions.

7. Do I have to take my contraceptive pill every day, or just on days that I have sex?  

FYI, it's everyday, at the same time too.

8. Can I catch HIV from door handles?

No, and you can't catch it from toilet seats either.

9. Does size matter?

Iklegemma who works in sexual health says "most women would say not really."

10. What's the appropriate age to have sex?

I don't think there is an 'appropriate' age to have sex. There are many things to consider; are you ready? Do you trust the person? Are you protected? It is also important to think of the potential legal consequences.

11. Can a woman actually get pregnant from it without ejaculation?

"Precum does contain a small amount of sperm, so yes, it is possible to get pregnant - although less likely." Iklegemma explains "Always be careful!"


For more info visit NHS choices. You can find your local sexual health clinic here. 

More: These are the US states with the most STIs