Finding out if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can be frightening and overwhelming. But there’s no need to feel embarrassed about going to a sexual health clinic. Here’s what to expect from a sexual health clinic on your first visit.
Sexual health clinics are also called sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics, sexually transmitted disease clinics, venereal clinics or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics. It specialized in sexual health, prevention, tests and treatment for many sexually transmitted infections. They can provide you with advice, information, testing for STI’s and HIV, vaccinations and treatment for any infections.
Services offered by Sexual Health Clinics
- Advice and information about sexual health, safer sex, birth control, reproductive health
- Counseling and education
- Pregnancy testing
- Free condoms
- Testing to detect sexually transmitted infections
- Treatment for STI
- HIV testing and counseling for people who are positive
- Hepatitis B vaccination
- Advice about abortion
- Help for people who have been sexually assaulted
- Referral to specialist if necessary
If you suspect you have a sexually transmitted infection, look on the internet for a clinic near you. Call them and find out if they require appointment or if they offer walk-in services. You can go to a sexual health clinic whether or not you have STI symptom. You don’t have to worry if you’re under 16 the service is confidential, the clinic won’t tell your parents unless you requested for it.
Before You Arrive
If you are coming for STI or pregnancy testing, you should avoid passing urine for at least two hours before arriving at the clinic. You will be asked to give urine sample, peeing before your appointment might make tests less reliable.
Visiting the Clinic for the First Time
On your first visit, you will be asked to fill in a form with your name and some contact details. You are not required to give your real name if you do not want to. No need to worry everything is confidential. Tell the nurse or receptionist if you prefer a doctor of a particular gender. You will be asked about your sexual history, when you last had sex, whether you had an unprotected sex. It’s important to answer honestly as your answer may affect the advice and treatment you will be given. They will also ask about your current symptoms and why you think you have any symptoms.
The doctor will perform a brief physical exam to check for rashes and sores. Some test require swab from throat or rectum. For women, swab from cervix during a vaginal test for Chlamydia and gonorrhea. You may need to provide urine or blood sample if you need to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI). A routine check usually involves test for gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis and HIV.
Some sexual health clinics offer same-day testing for infection and you only have to wait for the results so you can be treated right away. Most STIs require a lab test to be sure; this can take a few days to a week or 2 weeks for the result. You may be able to get the result over the phone or if they think you need treatment they may require you to pick it up.
Getting a negative result is good news, but to be sure you are clear you may need to come back for a second test. Most negative results are highly accurate however some infections may take up to 3 months to show on a blood test – like HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis. Practice safer sex using condoms until all of your test results come back clear.
Getting a positive result is not the end of the world. Almost all sexual infections are now treatable or can be managed effectively. Sometimes the clinic will ask you for a second sample to make sure the diagnosis is accurate. With modern treatment available, people can manage conditions like HIV and still live a long and healthy life. Your doctor will offer you counseling and other forms of support to help you cope with the fact that you have an STI. It’s also your duty to tell your sexual partner and any ex-partners so that they can get tested and treated as well. If you don’t want to do this personally, the clinic can do the partner notification anonymously and invite them for a test.
If treatment begins early bacterial STI can be cured with antibiotics. If you are given antibiotics to treat a STI, it is important that you take all the drugs prescribed to you, even if the symptoms go away. Viral STIs like HIV cannot be cured, but you can manage the symptoms with medications. Antiviral drugs, protease inhibitors and other drugs are the standard therapy for HIV infection. Everyone who is sexually active is at risk. Using a condom will provide protection and loyalty to one partner and abstinence is the only true form of protection against these infections – providing of course that your partner is also totally monogamous.