Getting an STI health check is an important way to love your body

STI health check

Getting an STI health check is THE most positive thing, says Holly-Rae – and it’s reassuring too. Embrace your sexual health today…

An STI checkup at a sexual health clinic doesn’t have to be a grim experience. It’s so reassuring to go, and women are meant to get a cervical exam once a year so don’t be afraid to get checked out. It’s one more way to show your body you love it.

Getting an STI health check at a GUM clinic was… OK. It really was.

I went to the GUM clinic near my university with a friend, terrified that anyone would see me or assume things about me that just weren’t true. Normally, I couldn’t give a shit but this was the result of a relationship I’d rather forget. I’d taken four years to build up the courage to come and get checked.

The clinic was part of a hospital, a particularly well signposted hospital. I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but there were twice as many signs pointing out the way to the clinic. Yay. It meant that I didn’t have to ask anyone in reception (saving further embarrassment) and found it easily, situated away from most of the other wards.

In the GUM reception, there was no-one around except for a very helpful receptionist who talked to me through a little window in a wall. The rest of the reception room was empty, except for a sign asking visitors to respect the privacy of others and sit about ten feet away from the window until it was your turn to be seen.

Confidentiality was obviously a very big deal here.

When I was seen after about ten minutes, the lady didn’t ask me for any ID or ask any questions about my health record. She just asked me to fill out a form for contact details. I booked an appointment and went away feeling a little bit less stressed, knowing what great lengths these people would go to to give me my privacy.

When I got into my appointment I met a doctor who asked me, very frankly, about my sexual history from the last six months. Partners, frequency of intercourse, the type of intercourse, if I’d had any symptoms of STIs (she listed a couple quickly to give me an idea), etc. I didn’t find it invasive. In fact, I found it easy to talk to her, and I didn’t have to mention the specific reason as to why I had come for the check up.

She offered me a pack of free contraception as if it were coffee and got started on the check up after a minimum of fuss. The nurse who came in to help was simply lovely. She asked me about my degree and was talking to me in a very casual way about quite mundane things. Though not the most thrilling of conversations, her open attitude and friendly nature put me at ease.

At no point in the entire experience did I feel judged.

The frankness just made it feel like any other medical exam and I was glad for it. I was worried that my mum, a nurse on the NHS, might be able to access my file. However, the clinicians assured me that they kept no official records, just those that went away with my blood test to let the labs know a bit about me.

As for calling back for my results, this clinic had a “no news is good news” policy. They said they’d contact me by phone or text message (whichever I preferred) within two weeks if anything was unusual. They explained that if I heard nothing, I had the all-clear but I could still ring just to double check.

All in all, getting an STI health check was a very positive and reassuring experience. Recommended. A+!

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