Irrespective of whether or not you are showing potential signs of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), it is crucial that you get yourself tested on a frequent basis at a sexual health clinic. This is especially the case if you have previously, or are currently, having sexual activity with somebody that is not a long-term partner.
While it is true that the vast majority of individuals feel embarrassed just at the thought of attending a sexual health clinic for the purpose of testing, doctors here at Persona are trained specifically in this area of medicine. As such, your STI-related test at our practice will not only be performed discreetly, but in the most professional of manners, too.
With that being said, if you are yet to encounter what a sexual health clinic does, or how the end-to-end STI testing process works, be sure to read our brief explainer.
A discreet one-on-one question phase
First and foremost, you will need to book an appointment with our practice. You can do this conveniently via telephone during our clinic hours. On the day of your appointment, a sexual health specialist will ask you some questions regarding your recent sexual activity.
Once again, while some of the questions posed might make you feel somewhat uncomfortable, it is important to remember that the specialist will have discussed sexual health matters with patients for years on-end. As such, it is important that your answers are as accurate as possible. Failure to provide truthful answers might prevent the specialist from performing the correct tests.
Most specifically, you should be upfront about any specific symptoms that you are aware of. On the other hand, just because you are not displaying any STI-related symptoms, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a clean bill of health.
On the contrary, many sexual health issues are completely symptomless – which further highlights the importance of engaging in regular checks, especially if you are sexually active with somebody other than your long-term partner. It is also important that you highlight any previous STI-related issues that you have experienced.
Once you have discussed whether or not you have encountered any symptoms, the sexual health specialist will then ask you about your current relationship status, and how many partners you have recently had sexual relations with.
This is also a crucial part of the question phase, as if an STI has arisen, you will be expected to contact your previous partners as they may have had the infection passed on. Furthermore, it is not just vaginal sex that the specialist will need to be made aware of, as STIs can also be contracted orally, and via anal.
This is why you need to let the specialist know whether or not you frequently have unprotected sex. If you do use protection, the specialist will ask what measures you typically have in place. Finally, it is also common for the sexual health specialist to ask whether or not you have had any contact with needles. This is to ensure that you have not increased your chances of infection.
The sexual health test itself
If you’re wondering why the sexual health specialist at Persona is required to ask so many questions, this is to ensure that they are able to perform the right tests. Depending on what answers you gave to the specialist, you might need to undertake one, or multiple tests.
Below we have listed some of the most common STI-related tests that we undertake here at Persona.
- Physical Examination: Before more elaborate tests are made (if at all), the sexual health specialist will need to initially perform a physical examination. If you have highlighted a specific symptom in particular (such as warts or discharge), the specialist will need to take a closer look.
- Urine Test: One of the most common STI-related tests taken at our practice is that of a simple urine test. The process simply requires you to urinate in a tube. The specialist will give you a glass of water if you are unable to pass urine.
- Blood Test: Depending on what the specialist is testing for, they might be required to obtain a blood sample from you. Other than a slight prick-effect, the process is quick and painless.
- Cheek Swab: If the sexual health specialist at Persona is required to test for HIV, then they will likely initiate a cheek swab. In doing so, the specialist will use a swab to rub the inside of your cheek.
- Enhanced Swab: If the initial cheek swab did not yield the required information during the testing phase, the specialist might be required to take an additional swab. In doing so, this will need to be taken from more discreet areas, such as the penis, vagina, or anus.
- Sores: Some STI-related symptoms will show in the form of sores, and in rarer cases – blisters. If this is the case, the sexual health specialist will need to take fluid samples from the site.
What happens after the sexual health tests have been performed?
Once the sexual health specialist has obtained the required samples, they will then proceed to test them at the lab. The specific amount of time that it takes for the specialist to assess whether or not you do in fact have an STI-related issue will depend on the test itself.
While HIV tests will typically return an assessment within 20 minutes, others might require the specialist to contact you later in the day. At the other end of the spectrum, a physical examination might be enough for the sexual health specialist to diagnose you. If it is, they will be able to explain what the next course of action is – specifically with respect to treatment.
The next step?
Ultimately, the importance of undertaking a regular STI test should not be understated. While we appreciate that the process might make you feel embarrassed, you can rest assured that the specialist of the sexual health clinic at Personal will execute the test in a confidential and discreet manner.
As such, feel free to get in touch with the practice if you are looking for a fast and affordable sexual health check-up to put your mind at rest.