What to expect when visiting an STI clinic

If you’re at all worried about visiting a clinic because you think you might have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) – don’t be. There’s nothing to worry about, the whole service is completely confidential and the staff at the clinic are not there to judge anyone – just to make sure your sexual health is looked after.

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Male or female, LGBTQ+, old or young, the service is for everyone. Under 16s sometimes worry that the clinic will tell their parents – absolutely not. The service is for you, not your parents!

Expect discretion and confidentiality

As at any clinic, you’ll be asked for your name and contact details. The fact you’ve visited the clinic won’t be passed onto your GP unless you give permission. But if you still don’t want to give your real name, that’s OK. Just make sure you leave a valid contact point if you’re having tests where the results aren’t available immediately. This is just so that you can get the results. If you opt for a letter, there’ll be nothing on the outside of the letter to show where it’s from or what it’s about.

Try and remember dates and symptoms

When it comes to an STI test London has lots of clinics, and you can also do your own test, www.checkurself.org.uk/plus/ for some STIs before deciding to go to a clinic.

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When you get to the clinic, you can request a male or female doctor or nurse. You’ll be asked when you last had sex, and whether you’ve had unprotected sex (without a condom). The medic will want to know what symptoms you have, and what has made you think you might have an infection. There’s a good NHS guide to symptoms here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/#symptoms.

Tests and results

The next step is the tests. For some infections, test results, and even treatment, are available the same day. For others, you’ll need to be contacted later. A positive result means you’ll be asked to go back to the clinic, to discuss treatment. You should tell your sexual partner but if you can’t bear to – don’t worry – if you agree, the clinic can do it anonymously, without revealing your identity.

Don’t worry about visiting the STI clinic – it’s there to help you manage your sexual health, not to judge you.