We believe regular sexual health screening and follow-up are important for everyone. A follow-up meeting to discuss the results of your screening is also a good opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.
(Please note - Integriti Women's Clinics may offer screening for male patients but this will be dependent on the Individual Integriti GP - please contact the relevant clinic prior to attendance).
Sexually Transmitted Infections STI
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection that is passed between partners when having sex. You can get an STI by having vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex. There are several different types of STI.
What are the main sexually transmitted infections?
Ten common STIs:
Anogenital warts, Chlamydia, Genital herpes, Gonorrhoea, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Pubic lice, Syphilis and Trichomonas.
You may not be able to think logically at a time when you most need to, but you will not be alone. Anyone who is sexually active can acquire an STI and there are trained Integriti professionals who want to help you.
Several other infections can affect the genital region, which may be mistaken for STIs. Although some of them can be passed on by sexual contact, they can all be caught in other ways. They include:
Scabies , Molluscum contagiosum, Urethritis, Balanitis, Pelvic inflammatory disease, Vulvitis, Thrush, Cystitis, Bacterial vaginosis.
Symptoms of each STI can vary, they can affect the vagina and sometimes elsewhere in the body. Common symptoms include:
- Vaginal and penile discharge.
- Vaginal bleeding not related to your period.
- A sore, ulcer, rash, or lump that appears on the penis or around the vagina, vulva or back passage (anus).
- Pain during sex.
- Pain when you pass urine (although this is usually a urine infection and not an STI).
- Tender lumps in your groin.
Sometimes no symptoms develop but you can still infect others. So, if you think that you may have an STI, get it checked!
What should I do if I suspect that I have a sexually transmitted infection?
If you have a symptom which could be an STI, or if you have been told you may have caught an STI, see a health professional. See your own regular GP or book an Integriti GP consult. A GP can give advice, examine you, do tests, manage the situation and if necessary, provide further specialist referral. Do not have sex until you have been checked and have results and treatment if needed.
How do you find out if you have an STI?
Some conditions such as anogenital warts and pubic lice can be diagnosed during an examination and may not need any tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Testing for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomonas usually involves taking swabs or urine samples. Swabs can also detect thrush, bacterial vaginosis and various other bacteria which are not STIs.
HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis are usually tested for using a blood sample.
Your doctor will ask you some questions to try to assess the situation and to determine what tests (if any) you may need. Examples of questions that you may be asked include:
- What symptoms and/or concerns do you have?
- How many people have you had sex with in the last few weeks and were they male or female?
- What type of sex have you had - vaginal, oral, anal?
- Have you previously had an STI?
- Do you have any medical problems?
- Do you take any regular medication?
- Do you have any allergies?
- Women will be asked about the date of your last period and whether there is a chance that you may be pregnant, as this might affect treatment options.
After the initial assessment you will be advised what will happen next. You may be examined and have some tests taken.
Advice about sexual partners
If you are diagnosed with an STI you will be asked to tell any current or recent sexual partners that you have an infection. It is best that any recent sexual partners are told in case they are also infected and need treatment and to prevent the infection being spread any further. This telling of sexual partners is sometimes called contact tracing. If you prefer, some clinics can contact people anonymously if you do not wish to tell them yourself. There are also state based tracing services depending upon where you live. You should be aware that recklessly exposing a sexual partner to the risk of infection is against the law.
What happens during a sexual health examination?
The examination includes looking carefully at your genitals for signs of discharge, redness, lumps or ulcers. The doctor may also feel the tops of your legs (your groins) to check for enlarged or tender glands called lymph nodes. If necessary, the doctor may also do a general examination to check on your general health.
How are the tests done?
After the examination is complete your doctor may also take some tests.
The way in which tests are done can vary from clinic to clinic; the following is a general guide. Your doctor will explain how the tests will be taken. This may involve a urine sample, genital swabs or blood tests.
A sample of blood from a vein may be taken. This is mainly used to test for syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Sometimes you may be advised to delay having a blood test or to have a follow up test after a certain timeframe. For example, following an initial exposure to HIV it can take several weeks for a blood test to become positive. So, for example, if within the previous few days you had sex with someone who is HIV-positive, you may be advised to wait several weeks to have a blood test to see if you have become infected.
What happens next?
If you are seen at your Integriti GP Clinic, the swabs and blood tests will be sent to a laboratory for further testing. Your doctor will advise you about when the test results will be available; the time this takes will vary but this can take up to a fortnight. You will also be advised about how long it should take to get any other test results back to the clinic. Each clinic has a different method of giving test results. Some may ask you to come back or ring the clinic. It is important you understand how you will get your results and that the contact information you give is reliable.
My test results show I have a sexually transmitted infection - what now?
You will be given advice about what to do next when you receive your result including treatment.
The treatment that you will be offered depends on which STI is found. For example, a short course of antibiotics can usually treat chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomonas. A cream or lotion can clear pubic lice and scabies. Topical treatments can usually clear most anogenital warts. Treatments for genital herpes, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV are more involved and complex. You will be given advice about what treatment options you have and given time to ask questions.
If you are prescribed antibiotics then it is important to finish the full course of tablets, or else the infection may not be fully cleared. If you develop side-effects then seek advice from your GP about what to do. Do not simply stop taking the medication. For some infections you will be asked to return after a course of treatment to check that the infection has gone.
Do not have sex again until the time advised by the clinic. Depending on the infection, this may be for a certain length of time after treatment has finished or it may be until you are given the all clear from a repeat test. The aim is to prevent you from passing on the infection to others.
"No decision about you without you"
(please see reference section)