Sexually Transmitted Infections
These are also known as STI’s. They are common and many people don’t know that they have them as they may not have any symptoms. They can easily pass from person to person, especially if you have sexual contact without using a condom and not knowing if either of you have an infection. If they are left untreated they can cause problems in the future such as infertility problems in women and prostate and testicular problems in men. The tests are easy to perform and the treatments usually simple.
How can I catch an STI?
Any sexual contact without using a condoms puts you at risk of picking up an STI. This includes oral and anal sex. It is a good idea for you and your partner to be tested before you start a sexual relationship and to be retested with any new partners. We also recommend that you use condoms every time you have sex, unless you have a regular partner and have both been tested.
What are the symptoms of an STI?
In women, STI’s can present with a vaginal discharge, soreness, irregular bleeding or sometimes itching. Sex may become painful. Depending on the infection, you may have lumps, ulcers or blisters of the skin and find it painful to urinate. With more serious infections you may also have abdominal pains and a high temperature.
Men often don’t have any symptoms but may find it painful to urinate or have a discharge from the tip of their penis. They may also have lumps, blisters or ulcers. More serious infections can cause testicular pain and swelling.
Where can I go to get tested?
If you have any of the above symptoms or are concerned or would just like a test, then you can go to your GP, the Orchard Centre (free) or see us at the Choices clinic.
NEW Self testing packs for chlamydia and gonorrhoea are available to collect at Choices and the Orchard Centre for 16-25 year olds.
What tests might I be offered?
If you don’t have any symptoms then you will be offered a chlamydia and gonorrhoea test along with a blood test for blood born Viruses (hepatitis and HIV) and syphilis. The chlamydia and gonorrhoea test is a urine sample for men and either a urine sample or self taken swab for women. The swab is more accurate in women. You need to have not passed urine for 1 hour prior to collecting the urine sample. If you have had oral or anal sex these sites will need testing as a urine sample or vaginal swab may show if you have any infection.
If you have symptoms the tests recommended will depend on what those are. You may need skin swabs if you have any rashes, lumps, blisters or sores. Women may need a more thorough examination and other swabs taken from higher inside the vagina and around the cervix. Men- if you have a discharge from the tip of your penis, you will need a swab in addition to a urine sample. Please contact Orchard Centre to arrange this.
For Transgender people– you will be offered appropriate tests for the genitalia that you have.
How long does it take to get my results?
Most blood tests, swabs and urine samples will be back within a few days. Some tests, especially viral swabs, take much longer and can be several weeks.
How will I get my results?
When you register at Choices you will be asked how you prefer to be contacted. We will only contact you if you have a positive result so that we can arrange treatment. If you have chosen to be texted, you will receive a message to contact the clinic- this is to protect your confidentiality. You are welcome to phone the clinic for your result during our opening hours. ( link to home screen/opening hrs and contact details.)
What treatment will I need?
This will depend on the STI. The treatments are detailed under the individual STI. You may need to abstain from all sexual contact, including oral, for a time after your treatment to ensure it clears and clinic staff will make sure you know what you need to do. You will need to repeat you treatment if you vomit within 2-3 hrs of taking it so please contact the clinic if this happens. We will also need to know if you have any medical conditions, other medication or allergies before a prescription can be given.
How will I know if the treatment has worked?
Modern treatments are very effective at clearing infections. If you have been treated for chlamydia, we recommend a further test in three months’ time. If your symptoms haven’t settled or you are worried you may have picked up another infection then please see either your GP or come to either the Orchard Centre or Choices clinics for a check up.
I’ve been told by a partner that they have an STI?
If a partner has told you they have an STI then you may have picked this up and be infected and at risk of passing it to others. You may not have any symptoms but it is still advisable to be tested. We offer treatment to anyone who may have been in contact with chlamydia.
How can I stop this spreading to others?
Practicing safe sex and using a condom every time is the best advice.
The other way to reduce the number of people infected by STIs is to try and contact partners so that they can be tested and have treatment. If you know who your partners have been and you are happy to contact them yourself then that is very useful. If you would prefer not to them both the Choices clinic and Orchard Centre (sexual health) offer anonymous contact tracing where your name would be kept confidential. Our staff will discuss this with you.