Advice when Visiting a Sexual Health Clinic

consulting-doctorIf you have had sexual contact or sexual intercourse with somebody, you are in a relationship or you regularly have sexual relationships, it is advisable to have regular STI tests. Often, infections do not cause symptoms straight away so routine tests are a means of diagnosing infections early to prevent symptoms from developing and reducing the risk of spreading the infection to others.

Services at a sexual health clinic in London are available to people of all ages and there is no need for a referral from your GP; some clinics offer drop-in services, but you may need to make an appointment at others. Sexual health testing is recommended for everyone, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not, but if you do have symptoms or you are aware that somebody you have slept with has an infection, it is particularly important to see a doctor or visit a sexual health clinic.

Preparing for your appointment

Most people think of the prospect of visiting a sexual health clinic as daunting, but the tests are very simple, quick and straightforward and all cases are treated with sensitivity and confidentiality. Staff who work at sexual health clinics understand that people often feel embarrassed and awkward and they try to make the experience as stress-free as possible. It is worth noting that nurses and doctors have tested for many different infections and will have dealt with hundreds of patients in your situation; they are there to do their job and will not judge you or force you to answer a million uncomfortable questions.

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When you arrive at the clinic you will be asked a few simple questions, including questions about your personal details, questions about your sex life (this will only include a few questions to determine whether you have had unprotected sex recently or you have any symptoms). You can request to see a nurse or doctor of the same sex, but you may have to wait longer.

The test

The testing process is usually very fast and simple; in most cases, you will be asked to provide a urine sample (for Chlamydia and gonorrhoea) or a blood sample (for HIV and syphilis) and swabs may be taken from the genital area. In some cases (usually only when symptoms, such as sores, are present) a physical examination may be required).

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