A sexual health clinic specialises in sexual health and can provide treatment and testing for sexually transmitted infections.
The clinic is a non-judgemental and confidential service, many people get sexually transmitted infections at some point in their life, and many STIs have no symptoms - it is nothing to be ashamed of if you have an infection.
If you are under 18, your parents or doctor will not be informed unless you want them to be.
All sexually transmitted infections can be treated in some way, so in order to keep yourself in good health you should get tested frequently. If your test comes back positive for an STI then you will be offered treatment to help either manage or get rid of the infection.
You will also be advised to inform any sexual partners who may also be infected, there may be ways to do this anonymously if you don’t want to tell them yourself, so speak with the doctor or nurse about this.
If you want your partner or a friend to come along with you to the clinic for support then that is ok.
We understand that people feel nervous about visiting the clinic so we aim to put your mind at ease - This section of the website explains what to expect before, during and after visiting a sexual health clinic.
You can either make an appointment to visit your STI clinic through your doctor by referral or by giving the clinic a call.
There may be periods when it is possible to just turn up without an appointment, also some clinics allow this at any time - this is known as a “drop-in clinic”.
You may be able to request that you are seen by a male or female doctor, you should ask about this when you make your appointment.
You may need to give a urine sample so try not to urinate right before your appointment.
You may feel embarrassed or worried about visiting the STI clinic but there is no need to be, the doctors and nurses will not judge you or make you feel bad.
Visiting a clinic shows you are taking responsibility for your health and that is nothing to be ashamed of, quite the opposite.
When you arrive you should go to the reception, the receptionist may ask you to fill out a form with your contact details and any other information about why you are visiting the clinic.
You don’t need to give your real name if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, and your doctor or parents won’t be told about your visit without your permission.
Bear in mind, if it isn’t possible to provide you with your test results on the day, the clinic will need to contact you another day, so make sure you give the correct contact details.
You will usually be asked how you wish to be informed, such as over the phone, by post or by text message or email.
Once you are called to see a doctor or nurse they will ask you some questions about yourself, and your sexual activity, as well as any symptoms you might have. You should try to answer as honestly as possible.
It is important to provide accurate information so that you may get the right treatment.
Typical questions you may be asked:
- When you last had sex
- Whether you have had unprotected sex
- Whether you have any symptoms
- Why you have visited the clinic
Staff who work at sexual health clinics are very experienced and will not judge you so try to be honest with them, it is for your own benefit and these details will not be shared with anyone else.
You may be asked questions that don’t apply to you, everyone gets asked these same questions, so try not to take offense if they ask you questions such as if you take drugs.
Once the doctor or nurse is finished asking you questions they will tell you which tests they think you need.
There are several different ways to test for sexually transmitted infections, depending on your symptoms and the information you provided about yourself, you could have any number of the following:
- Urine (pee) sample
- Blood sample
- Swab of affected areas - if female you can usually provide this yourself from your vagina
- An examination of your genitals (taking a look) - if you don’t have any symptoms then you don’t usually require an examination of this kind
With some tests you can get the results and treatment straight away, for others you may need to wait for a week or two - In this case you will be asked how you wish to be contacted.
If your test comes back positive for an STI you will be asked to come back into the clinic to discuss your results and any treatment that you need.
Many STIs can be cured with treatment, others such as HIV have no cure but can be managed with treatment so that you can live a relatively normal life - the clinic can also help you with getting counselling to help with the psychological side of any positive STI test result.
Where possible you should inform any current or previous sexual partners so that they may get tested themselves, there may be discreet ways to do this without them knowing it was you who was involved in this. This is called partner notification - speak with your doctor or nurse.