Doing a STI check can seem intimidating, but it’s so easy! You might feel embarrassed because talking about sex with older people has previously been a weird experience for you – but it doesn’t need to be, the more you do it, the more routine it will become. STI’s are just like any other type of infection; most can be treated with medicine and those that can’t, like Herpes, can be controlled. STI’s and check-up’s have previously caught a bad rep, but getting checked is part of being a sexually active person.
Here’s how it will go down:
- Making the appointment
Choose where you would like to go, your usual GP or a sexual health clinic? The details are below to make this easy. Making this decision might involve thinking about cost and location. Call and make an appointment! You do not need parental consent to see a doctor for a check-up, even if you are under 16 (legal age to consent to sex).
Family Planning make this easy by letting you go online and fill out an appointment request, then they contact you back to confirm. They will likely ask what the appointment is for, but this can be kept as simple as ‘contraception information’ or ‘general check-up’.
- At the appointment
Just like any other doctor appointment you will wait in a waiting room until the Health Professional is ready to see you, and then they will take you to a smaller, private room. Doctors are under pretty strict requirements to keep everything confidential, but if you have privacy concerns then bring them up.
Then comes the whole actually getting tested thing. There are many different ways to get tested for an STI, and it all depends on what you are getting tested for. Don’t hold back information, you’ve come this far so let the nurse or doctor know what you’re there for – especially if you have symptoms that are worrying you. Talking to your doctor about details, like what type of sex you are having, will help them understand what tests you need.
Lots of people are confused about getting tested for STIs, they think it always involves a physical examination and that can put people off going. But this isn’t always true and doctors usually only want to do a physical examination if you think you have symptoms, such as itching, burning, pain or sore bumps or unusual discharge.
Here in Tairawhiti we have high Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates, so a general check-up would involve boys collecting a urine sample and girls doing a self-swab (you go to the bathroom and do it yourself with a long cotton bud – so easy).
Somethings like HIV and Herpes require a blood test.
- After the appointment
Once you have done the test, your sample will be sent away and you will have to wait for the results before you know for sure if you have an STI or not. Your doctor should tell you how long this will take (usually around a week), and talk to you about how they will contact you with results; because they have to make sure the details come directly to you. If any of your tests come back positive, the doctor will help you with information on what to do next.
Both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics, which involves either a single-dose treatment or a course over seven days. Your sexual partner/s will need to have treatment too, so you will have to think about safe ways to approach the topic with them and make sure they see a doctor.
The reason getting checked regularly is so important is that many STDs can cause very severe complications if they are not treated. For example, if gonorrhea is not treated it can spread to your joints, skin, and even the retina of your eyes. Girls that get chlamydia or gonorrhea and don't know it, or don't get it treated, can develop serious infections of their reproductive organs that can prevent them from having children. STI’s can be transferred through all sexual acts including oral and fingering, and especially anal sex.
It doesn’t matter with who or what you’re doing, you’re always at risk. So own your sexuality and your health by being smart about sex.
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