STIs or Sexually Transmitted Infections are passed/ transferred between sexual partners through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex. These infections are caused by parasites, bacteria or viruses passed between partners during intimate or sexual contact.
Many people do not have the common symptoms associated with STIs. However, several have soreness, itchiness, redness or rashes, pain during urination, lumps/ sores on the genitals, and unhealthy, smelly discharge from the vagina or penis. There could also be internal symptoms like shooting pains in the groin area or the stomach.
Like many asymptomatic persons, there is a chance that they might not know whether they carry an infection. They may also pass it on to others without knowledge. The only way to understand if you’re a carrier is to get checked for STIs.
Where To Get Tested For STIs?
Getting tested for STIs is confidential and pretty straightforward in the UK. Most sexually transmitted infections are also curable when treated immediately.
There are sexual health (Genitourinary Medicine – GUM) clinics throughout the UK. These clinics specialize in testing and treating all sexually transmitted infections, diseases (including HIV- AIDS), and others like genital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), and more.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) usually show up after a ‘window time’ has passed. This window time or period is the gestation time of the infection inside the human body. Once this period has passed, the infection will show up in tests.
Some typical window times are:
- HIV – 45 days to 90 days
- Syphilis – approximately 12 to 13 weeks
- Genital Herpes – 4 days post-exposure
- Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia – Between 12 to 16 days
Since different infections tend to show up at varied times, the best course of action is to consider the first step as genital herpes and start treatment with a doctor immediately. It is possible to buy Aciclovir (for genital herpes) from a reputable online pharmacy by simply uploading the prescription. You may need to get the first prescription filled in person at the pharmacy for other medications.
How To Get Tested For STIs?
When you go to the clinic, the attending nurse will record your general details, personal details, insurance, and contact details. If you wish not to disclose any information, it will be respected and kept off the records. You also do not have to reveal your real name. The clinic will not inform your local GP about your visit, and the entire testing and treatment will be kept confidential.
When getting tested for various infections, you may have to answer personal questions about your sex life – the last time you had intercourse, which symptoms you have, why you want to get tested for STIs, and when was the last time you had unprotected sex. While these questions may seem intrusive, they are for your benefit so that the doctors have all the information readily available and can immediately help with the correct treatment.
You have the discretion of opting for a male or female nurse for the examination and information response records. However, you could have to wait for longer to have your preferred choice of a nurse.
Having STI Tests:
When at the clinic, it is essential to follow all the doctor or nurse’s instructions. The doctor will inform you about the investigations and tests needed for your symptoms or queries. They must explain how long the gestation period is, which infections you might have, and why they suggest each test.
If you are sure about the type of infection (or know about a partner who has the condition), you must disclose it to the doctor to further investigate your symptoms.
You might have to do/provide the following:
- A blood sample
- Urinate in a cup
- Urethral swabs (urinary tract swab)
- Genital examination (within and without)
- Vaginal swabs (for females)
Syphilis and HIV testing require blood samples, whereas gonorrhoea and chlamydia require urine samples or swabs (depending on the doctors’ recommendation based on your condition and infection progression).
Herpes tests are usually conducted only in case of sores of the anus and genitals. If this is the case, the doctor or nurse will take a swab from one of the sores. While this is not painful, it may cause some discomfort.
Depending on the test, you may get the results within a few minutes or a few weeks. It is best to ask about the duration of the results, the delivery of the test results (online or physical test report copies), and treatment options. Medicines can cure most infections. However, HIV has no cure, and only treatment options are available for lifelong control.