Sexual Health – Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I think I’ve got a Sexually Transmitted Disease / Infection (STD / STI)?
STIs are passed on during sex, especially when protection hasn’t been used. They can be passed on not only during intercourse, but also during oral sex, anal sex, and genital touching. If you display symptoms that lead you to believe you have an STI, it’s important to get them checked as soon as possible. Even if you don’t display symptoms but have had unprotected sex, it’s advisable to get checked out as well.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary and can include genital itching, discomfort, sores, or lumps, an unusual or odorous discharge, or pain when urinating. These symptoms can be mild, and it must be noted that many people do not experience symptoms for some time. Testing is vital to prevent conditions developing and being passed on to others.
What if I don’t show symptoms and am concerned?
For your peace of mind, to prevent conditions becoming more serious and to prevent infecting others, it’s important to get checked. If you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner, if your sexual partner shows symptoms, or if they have had sex without using contraception, you may be at risk of contracting so it’s good to get tested.
What ages are most at risk of infection?
No matter your age, you can be susceptible to a sexually transmitted infection. The risk does not reduce as you get older. There is a misconception that it only affects young people, and because of this infection is increasing rapidly among over-40s.
When should I get tested?
It’s always recommended to speak to a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will advise you on the right time to get tested depending on your past history, symptoms and other factors. The NHS guidelines are created to reduce cost rather than give you peace of mind as soon as possible. In private practice, we are able to advise you on what’s clinically best – we are not restricted by budget or government guidelines. It’s vital to catch infection early and prevent the spread of infection. Certain tests must always be repeated after a window period.
What happens during a sexual health test?
An experienced doctor will discuss the circumstances surrounding your request for a sexual health test, which will determine your options for testing. Depending on the infection, some tests require a blood sample, some a urine sample, and others a swab from the vagina or urethra. Blood results return within 4 working hours, and swab and urine results return within 2 – 5 days. When they are available, a doctor will call you to discuss your results, and they will provide a prescription where appropriate.
What should I do if I have an infection?
A large majority of sexual health screens come back clear leaving patients with complete peace of mind. If the test results do come back positive, a doctor will explain the process going forward for the health of you and your partner. Normally your partner will need to be tested as well. Some infections are treatable with antibiotics, and others require a referral to a specialist for well-managed, long-term treatment. This can be NHS treatment. We will help you in the process as much as we can.
Should I tell my partner if I have an STI?
If you are diagnosed with an infection, it is important that your partner is tested and treated. The doctor you see will speak to you about the safest sexual practices while you are awaiting your results and following any diagnosis.
What happens to my results after screening?
Results are stored on our secure patient system. If you would like a copy of the results, they can be sent to you by email, post, or made available for collection. A password can be assigned to your file if desired.