About our clinics
- Who will I see when I visit?
When arriving at the clinic you will first need to register with reception. A practitioner will then take a sexual history from you. This often includes quite personal questions about why you have come to the clinic, any genital problems, information about your last few sexual partners and the type of sex you have. He or she may examine you and will advise you which tests are recommended. You may be advised to see a health adviser. This is routine if you have been diagnosed with an infection, have been sexually assaulted, are under 16 years of age, require short-term counselling or are worried and wish for further information regarding your sexual health. Health advisers can help you notify your partner(s) if they have been at risk of infections to encourage them to come in for testing and treatment.
- How confidential is your service?
Confidentiality is really important to the running of any sexual health service. There are strict laws that we must adhere to regarding the use, sharing, disclosure, storage and transfer of patient-identifiable information. This means any personal information you provide us with will be held in the strictest confidence. Computerised information about our patients is coded and only staff within the clinic are able to access identifiable information such as your name or address.
- I am under 16 year old, will my information still be confidential?
All of our services are totally confidential. You don’t need your parents’ permission and you don’t have to tell them if you don’t want to. You are also welcome to bring your parents with you to the clinic, if you choose. You will not have any information about your attendance here passed on to anyone outside of the sexual health services (like your parents, teachers, social workers, etc) without your knowing about it and agreeing to it.
In exceptional circumstances, where you or someone else is in a dangerous situation and our telling someone else may prevent you or them from being harmed, a member of staff may feel that they have to pass on information without your permission. However they would still inform you of what they were going to do.
- What personal details do I have to give to register?
Some patients are reluctant to provide us with their correct name, address or contact details. We advise that you provide these details as we often need them to book your investigations (e.g. ultrasound scans), refer you to another hospital specialist or contact you to inform you that you have an infection.
- Can I see a practitioner of the same sex?
Please ask at reception if you would prefer to be seen by a practitioner of the same sex as yourself. We will try to accommodate your request depending on clinic staffing that day. Or if you call in advance we can arrange it so that you see a doctor of the same sex.
- Do I have to pay for treatment?
Treatment for sexually transmitted infections and contraception (including condoms) are provided free of charge.
- Do you have separate waiting rooms?
No, our waiting rooms are unisex.
- Will you inform my GP?
Not routinely but if you have any care/treatment that we feel the GP needs to know about we would inform him or her, but only with your consent.
- What will I be tested for and how?
This depends on whether you have symptoms or not but routinely, with your consent;
– Urine test and/or swabs (from the opening of your penis) for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and blood tests for HIV and syphilis. Depending on your sexual history we may also take swabs from your throat and rectum and blood tests for other infections.
– Self-swabs from your vagina/urine sample for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, blood tests for HIV and syphilis. Depending on your sexual history we may also take swabs from your throat, pass a small instrument (called a speculum) into your vagina and take other swabs, and blood tests for other infections.
- How do I get my results?
Some early results (gonorrhea, NSU, bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas and thrush) may be available at the end of your consultation. If you are found to have an infection on the day, treatment is provided. There are several ways of collecting your results:
- Receive results by text message to your mobile phone – most patients will receive their text message within seven working days. All our messages are discreet. We never use names of infections or use your clinic name. If your sexual health screen was normal you may read ‘All your results are negative’. If you don’t understand the text message, phone the results line with your clinic number for clarification. Some results cannot be texted.
- Ring the results line on the number given on your appointment card – you will need your clinic number to access your results.
- Can I come for a sexual health check-up when I have my period?
- What do I do if I miss a pill?
If you miss a pill take it as soon as you remember and contact one of our clinics or your GP if you need to take emergency contraception or are uncertain about this. Also use a back-up method, such as condoms, for a week.
- If I am taking my birth control pills do we still need to use condoms?
Birth control pills are only prescribed to prevent pregnancy; Condoms offer your best chance at preventing STIs.
Pills do not prevent sexually transmitted infections.
- I think I may be pregnant, how can I find out?
If you have missed a period, or if your period is late, you can take a pregnancy (urine) test to find out if you are pregnant. We can do a pregnancy test for you and can discuss your options with you.
Other signs of pregnancy include:
- fatigue or tiredness swelling,
- soreness or tenderness in your breasts; and/or
- nausea or vomiting
Stress or changes in your lifestyle can affect your menstrual cycle too, so that may be why your period is late. Get tested to be sure, and continue to use birth control if you are still having sex and don’t want to become pregnant.
- Can I get pregnant the first time I have sex?
Yes. You can get pregnant the first time you have sex because having sex for the first time is the same as having sex any other time. If you want to avoid becoming pregnant, you should use birth control right from the first time you have sex.
- Can I get pregnant by swallowing semen during oral sex?
No, you can’t. Swallowing semen is the same as eating something that ends up in your digestive system. It can’t make you pregnant because your mouth doesn’t connect with your reproductive system. Remember though, that you can get a sexually transmitted disease through oral sex if your partner is infected, so you should use a condom or dental dam during oral sex.
- Can I get pregnant without having sex?
You can’t get pregnant through oral sex, or through masturbation. But if you are intimate with your partner and there is any genital contact, especially where fluid is involved, there is a chance that you can become pregnant. This can even happen if he touches his own semen and then touches your vagina with his hands. If you want to make sure that you don’t become pregnant, make sure you use a condom, or avoid having contact with his genitals and fluids.
- Can I get my girlfriend pregnant if she has her period?
A woman can get pregnant any time of the month, even during her period. It’s not the most likely time, but it can happen.
- I have had unprotected sex with someone who may be potentially HIV positive. What do I do next?
STIs can be passed on from person to person through oral, vaginal and anal sex if a condom is not used. If you haven’t got any symptoms (e.g. burning when passing urine, discharge/abnormal liquid coming out of penis or vagina, abdominal pain, etc) we advise leaving at least 10 days since the last unprotected sex before coming to our clinic for sexual infection testing. This is because, depending on the infection in question, it can take several days from being infected before our tests are able to detect it. If you have symptoms, we advise coming to the clinic as soon as possible and to avoid sexual contact until you have been seen.
If you think you may have been exposed to HIV then you need to contact the service immediately for advice/appointment as this needs specialist assessment. If out of hours please attend local A&E.
Please note we cannot reliably exclude you being infected with HIV until you test four weeks from the last time you had unprotected sex. If however, you experience symptoms such as fevers, prolonged flu-like illness, swollen lymph glands and a rash it is advisable to attend the clinic for HIV testing regardless of whether it has been four weeks since your last unprotected sex and to avoid sexual contact until you have been seen. Likewise for other viral sexually transmitted infections such as Hepatitis B or C, we cannot reliably rule out the possibility of being infected with these infections until you test six months from the last unprotected sex.
- How do I know if I have a sexually transmitted infection?
Common symptoms of an STI include a burning feeling when you urinate, itchiness or a strange smell in your genitals. You can have an STI but not have symptoms though, such as in the case of chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV. This means the infection can damage your body without you even knowing about it. It also means you could accidentally pass on an STI to someone else.
If you think you have an STI, the only way to be sure is to see a practitioner. Contact our service or your own GP and ask to be checked for STIs. Most STIs can be treated with antibiotics.