Visiting The 'Clap' Clinic
If you think you have a sexually transmitted infection or disease (STI/STD) and are too embarrassed to go to your GP for testing or treatment, look up your nearest Special Clinic/GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinic in the Yellow Pages. You can also phone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 for information about your nearest clinic or for other sexual health advice.
Many clinics are walk-in but for some clinics you may need an appointment. So ring up first to check and find out their opening hours and how to get there. Special Clinics are usually located at your local hospital, often somewhere around the back. Just follow the signs. If you are young and live in a large city or in a student area, you may find that there is a STD/GUM clinic especially aimed at young people.
What To Expect
Around 2 million people in the UK visit a GUM clinic every year, so when you go into the clinic there is no need to be embarrassed. The staff at the clinic are experienced health professionals who deal with people who have STD's every day. They have seen it all before. They won't judge you.
So guard your health and get checked out, even if you only suspect that you may have an STD. Once you arrive you will be given a form to fill in and a number. Everything is strictly confidential so the staff will only refer to you by your number not by your name.
You don't have to worry that someone will tell your GP or a family member that you were visiting the STD clinic. You also don't have to worry about information being passed on to your employer or insurance company.
Examination And Tests
Usually you will see a nurse or nurse practitioner first before seeing the doctor. You will be given a physical examination, which will normally include a genital examination.
In order to test whether you have an infection you will have to have swabs taken and give various samples including blood and urine. You will probably need to return a few days later for the results, although some test results may take up to 2 weeks to come back.
Expect to be tested for a variety of STI's like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV. You will be asked about your medical history and your sexual behaviour and sexual history. If you are diagnosed with a STI, you will be asked to give information about your current or recent sexual partner/s so that they can be tested and treated too.
By going to a Special Clinic you will be getting the most up-to-date treatment for your particular infection. The staff will also give you advice on how to avoid getting an STI again, and should offer you free condoms.
Condoms are the safest way of protecting yourself from infection while having sex. Remember, if you suspect you may have an STD/STI don't have sex again until you have been to a GUM clinic, been tested, given your results and taken any necessary treatment.
Infections can be passed backwards and forwards between you and your partner so make sure they get treated too. Most STI's can be easily treated if caught early. If you ignore symptoms you may find that you are not only seriously compromising your health but also your future fertility.
So don't be embarrassed - go to a Special GUM Clinic as soon as you suspect you may have an STI.