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What will happen when I come for an STI test?

The tests you have will vary depending on your needs and what you tell us.

The standard tests are for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and HIV. These are all sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Your doctor or nurse will explain in more
detail if necessary.

Some tests are done by taking swabs or urine (wee). A Swab is a cotton bud which is inserted into the vagina or end of the penis to collect body fluid (cells). This is
then tested. 

Some tests require a blood sample.  You do not have to give a blood sample if you don’t want to.  However this may mean that some tests aren’t done.

If you do not have symptoms, you will not need to be examined or get undressed.  Men can give a urine (wee) sample. Women can take their own swab – the doctor
or nurse will explain what to do.

If you prefer, we can examine you, if you want us to.  If you are examined you will need to undress below the waist and take off your underwear (pants). 

I am under 16, will you tell my parents / careers if I come for contraception?

Any competent young person can consent to medical, surgical or nursing treatment, including contraception and sexual and reproductive health. They are said to be competent if they are capable of fully understanding the nature and possible consequences of the treatment.

Consent from parents / carers is not legally necessary, although the involvement of parents or carers is encouraged. Young people are owed the same duties of care and confidentiality as adults. Confidentiality may only be broken when the health, safety or welfare of the young person, or others, would otherwise be at grave risk.

I think I might be pregnant and don’t know what to do.

If you think you could be pregnant you should do a pregnancy test as soon as possible.

You can do a pregnancy test from the first day of a missed period. If you do a test before this time, the level of pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), may be too low to show up on the test and you may get an inaccurate result. If you don’t know when your next period is due, the earliest time to do a test is
three weeks (21 days) after unprotected sex.

You can have a free pregnancy test at your GP or local sexual health service.

If the pregnancy test is positive, this means you are pregnant. All tests, including tests you do yourself, are very reliable.

It’s normal to feel a range of different emotions when you find out you are pregnant.

Whatever you feel, you now need to think about what to do. It is important to take time to make the decision that’s right for you, but it’s also important not to delay making your decision.

You can choose to:

  • continue with the pregnancy and keep the baby
  • end the pregnancy by having an abortion
  • Continue with the pregnancy and have the baby adopted.

All pregnant women in Worcestershire are offered the opportunity to speak with trained staff and have in making a decision about what to do next if they are
undecided about whether to proceed with the pregnancy

I’ve got a smelly vaginal discharge.

One possibility is something called bacterial vaginosis, (BV) but there are other possible bacterial infections that can cause vaginal smell.   

These are not all sexually transmitted infections.

There is no need to be embarrassed about seeing your GP or visiting a sexual health service.  STIS can become worse if not treated, therefore the sooner you visit a service the better. Services are free and confidential. 

How do I access the clinic?

Most Clinics are open access, where no referral or appointment is needed. Some clinics also offer appointments for new patients and procedures.  See the website
for more details about the location of clinics and their opening times.  

I’ve got pain in my testicles

Most men’s testicles are about the same size, though it’s common for one to be slightly bigger than the other. It’s also common for one testicle to hang lower than the other one.

The testicles should feel smooth, without any lumps or bumps, and firm but not hard. You may feel a soft tube at the back of each testicle, which is called the epididymis.

If you notice any changes or anything unusual about your testicles, you should see your GP.

What causes lumps and swelling in the testicles?

There are several causes of testicular lumps and swellings:

• varicocele: caused by enlarged veins in the testicles (may look like a bag of worms)

• hydrocele: a swelling caused by fluid around the testicle

• epididymal cyst: a lump caused by a collection of fluid in the epididymis

• testicular torsion: a sudden, painful swelling that occurs when a testicle becomes twisted (this is a medical emergency and requires surgery as soon as possible)

• epididymitis: a chlamydia infection in the epididymis can cause inflammation, swelling and tenderness inside the scrotum (ball sack). A few men will notice that the whole of the scrotum is red and tender; when this happens, it’s called epididymo-orchitis

• testicular cancer: an estimated 4 in 100 lumps are cancer, so this is an uncommon cause of lumps

What are the signs of testicular cancer?

The early signs of testicular cancer are easy to spot. Look out for one or more of the following:

• a hard lump on the front or side of a testicle

• swelling or enlargement of a testicle

• an increase in firmness of a testicle

• pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles)

• an unusual difference between one testicle and the other

If you find a lump or swelling, or any of the above signs, it’s important to get it checked out by your doctor.

 For more information about penis health see here; http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/penis-health/Pages/penis-health.aspx

It hurts when I have sex

Pain during or after sex (dyspareunia) can be caused by many things, such as:

• illness

• infection

• a physical problem

• a psychological problem

If you get pain during or after sex, your body may be trying to tell you something is wrong, so don't ignore it. See your GP or go to a sexual health clinic.

Pain during sex can affect both men and women.

Painful sex in women

Women can experience pain during or after sex, either in the vagina or deeper in the pelvis. Pain in the vagina could be caused by:

• an infection: thrush or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea or genital herpes

• the menopause: changing hormone levels can make your vagina dry

• lack of sexual arousal at any age

• vaginismus: a condition where muscles in or around the vagina shut tightly, making sex painful or impossible

• genital irritation or allergy caused by spermicides, latex condoms or products such as soap and shampoo

Pain felt inside the pelvis can be caused by conditions such as:

• pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

• endometriosis

• fibroids growing near your vagina or cervix

• irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

• constipation

Painful sex in men

Some causes of painful sex for men are:

• infections like thrush, which can cause soreness and itching, and some STIs, such as herpes

• if the foreskin is tight, penetration can be painful, as the foreskin is pushed back

• small tears in the foreskin that can't be seen but cause soreness and a sharp, stinging pain around the tear

• inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis)

• testicle pain and swelling can sometimes be caused by getting sexually aroused but not ejaculating (coming). It can also be a sign of an infection, such as chlamydia.

What to do

If you have pain during or after sex, you should get advice from your GP or a GUM clinic. They can assess what’s causing the problem and whether you need any treatment. For example:

• if you have pain, unusual discharge, itchiness or soreness around your genitals, they may recommend treatment for thrush or having an STI test

• if your vagina is dry, you may be advised to try using a lubricating product – remember to use a water-based product if you’re using condoms, because oil-based lubricants can damage them and make them ineffective

• if you have an allergy or irritation around your genitals, you may be advised to avoid using products that could be causing it

• if there’s an emotional reason or anxiety that's causing problems, a counsellor or sex therapist may be able to help –  your GP or sexual health clinic can refer you to one 

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.

I need emergency contraception.  How do I get it and is there a cost?

Emergency contraception is available for free from sexual health clinics. It is also available from your GP and some pharmacies. Emergency contraception can be
taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. The sooner it is taken the more effective it is. There are other options that can be used up to five days after unprotected
sex. Therefore visit a sexual health service or GP at the earliest opportunity. 

Do I need an appointment to get contraception?

No.  Many of our clinics offer drop-in sessions, when you can come along, no appointment is necessary.

How long after chlamydia treatment can I have sex?

It is necessary to wait seven days after treatment before having sex. Remember, condom use greatly reduces your risk of reinfection.

What is the legal age for sex in the UK?

The legal age for consent to sex in the UK is 16. However we can see people before they are 16 if they need support and advice about relationships. 

The age of consent to any form of sexual activity is 16 for both men and women. The age of consent is the same regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of a person.   

It is an offence for anyone to have any sexual activity with a person under the age of 16. However, guidance is clear that there is no intention to prosecute teenagers under the age of 16 where both mutually agree and where they are of a similar age. Sexual health services can see and support people even if they are under 16.  All information remains confidential.

It is an offence for a person aged 18 or over to have any sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 if the older person holds a position of trust (for example a teacher or social worker) as such sexual activity is an abuse of the position of trust.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides specific legal protection for children aged 12 and under who cannot legally give their consent to any form of sexual activity.
For more information about young people & sexual health

Can I get Contraception if I am under 16?

Health professionals in the UK may provide contraceptive advice and treatment to young people under 16 if, in their clinical judgement, they believe it is in the young person’s best medical interests and the young person is able to give what is considered to be informed consent.

The various sexual offences laws in force in the UK do not affect the ability of professionals to provide confidential sexual health advice, information or treatment.
Each specifically states that it is not an offence provides information, advice and/or treatment if it is in order to protect the young person’s sexual health, physical safety or emotional wellbeing.

All information remains confidential. In rare circumstances we may need to break confidentiality if we are concerned that someone is at severe risk.

Do I need to use any protection for oral sex?

STIs can be passed on during oral sex. Herpes can be transferred during skin on skin contact e.g.: during kissing or oral sex. Chlamydia can also be transferred
during oral sex. Using condoms and dental dams can reduce the risk of transmission, flavoured condoms and dental dams can enhance the pleasure and protect
during oral sex. 

I think I might be gay, who can I talk to?

It's normal to feel attracted to both girls and boys when you're growing up. Find out about coming out, safer sex, and how to deal with bullying if it happens to you.
For further information see here: 

How long after unprotected sex should I get tested?

Common sexually transmitted infections can take up to two weeks before they can be detected, so if you need to make sure you haven’t caught anything within the
last fourteen days, you may be advised to repeat your tests at a later stage.
However, it is important that you are seen ASAP if you have any symptoms at all.

How do I learn more about safeguarding?

See here for more information  about safeguarding http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/info/20054/safeguarding_children

What is child sexual exploitation?

See here for more information about child sexual exploitation: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/child-sexual-exploitation/

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Your Question . . .
We aim to respond to questions as soon as possible, but please be aware this may take up to one working week. If you require urgent help visit your GP, call 111 or if it is an emergency dial 999 or visit A&E?