Partying, drinking and casual sex are all accepted parts of a student’s life these days. Although prevention is better than cure, we are all human, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) sometimes happen.
If you experience any embarrassing symptoms, it is important to get them checked out as soon as possible.
Where do I go?
If you don’t want to see your own doctor, there are plenty of clinics available where you can get free testing and treatment.
Sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics provide tests and treatment for many STIs. Some are appointment only, while others operate a drop-in system, although you may have to wait.
You will be asked your name (you can give a false name if you like) and address, so the clinic can contact you. The service is always confidential, and your GP will not be told of any results, unless you give your permission. If you’re under 16, the clinic won’t tell your parents.
You will be asked questions about your sex life, as well as about your symptoms. If you would rather see a male or female nurse or doctor, just ask, although you may have to wait longer to be seen if you do so.
According to the NHS website, tests may include examining your genitals, taking a urine sample, or taking blood or swabs. The results depend on the STI being tested – some will come back the same day, while others take longer. You can ask to receive the results by text, phone or letter.
If you test positive, you will be asked to return to the clinic for a discussion about treatment. Most STIs are treatable with antibiotics.
The clinic will ask you to inform previous sexual partners, so they are aware of the risks. If you do not want to do this, the clinic can do it – without revealing your identity.
Home STI testing
According to Greenwich Sexual Health, there are free home testing kits available for a range of STIs, including HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and hepatitis B & C. You can get free gonorrhoea testing kits in London from https://www.checkurself.org.uk.
Whatever your symptoms, if you are worried, it is essential you get tested and receive any treatment as soon as possible – STIs will not go away on their own.