If you’re sexually active you’re going to have to go get yourself checked at the Genitourinary (GU) clinic at some point. Whether you’ve only had one partner, or 20, it’s vital for your and your partners’ health.
We’re here to break down what you can expect from your first GU check-up, and let you know that you’ve got nothing to worry about
1. Making the decision
Maybe you had a sexual encounter that left you feeling worried, maybe a condom broke and you want to make sure, or maybe you’re entering a new relationship and you want to go into it sure of your own health.
Whatever the reason you are making the right decision. Whether you go by yourself, or with a partner, whether you’re exhibiting symptoms or not, it’s never a wrong decision to get yourself checked. Good job, you.
2. Booking the date
You’ll have to call ahead of time at the GU clinic at Mater Dei. If you’re not exhibiting symptoms you may have to wait a few weeks for an appointment. It’s extremely important that if you are exhibiting any symptoms, tell them. They’ll be able to push you to the front of the queue, or call you into the clinic that day.
If you’re nervous about what people will think, don’t be. All details you give them are confidential. And If you’re really paranoid about nobody knowing your name, you can easily give them a false name. Just remember which alias you give them! They’ll also give you a file number so they can easily pull up your history with the clinic if you make future appointments. The nurses who answer the phone are extremely helpful and will be able to answer any questions you’ll have about the check-up.
Prepping for the test is really simple. They might ask you to not drink alcohol or coffee the night before, and to not pee for 3 hours before your appointment. Easy right?
On a less technical note, make sure you shower before you go, and wear some nice underwear, no need to make the doctors job any more difficult than it has to be.
You may also want to mentally prepare yourself, especially if you’re not comfortable with other people seeing your body. Try to remind yourself that it’s a simple medical procedure, and these doctors have already seen everything. It’s natural to be shy, but don’t let that get in the way of your health.
4. The Test
The big day has arrived! You’ll probably be nervous (and bursting for a pee), but you’ve got nothing to worry about. After giving your number and name (or false name) and waiting for a few minutes you’ll be ushered into an examination room.
The exam itself is typically performed by a doctor and a nurse.
First, they’ll ask you questions about your sexual history and preference. How many people you’ve had sexual contact with, was it protected or unprotected, male or female, what forms of contraception were used (if any). It’s extremely important that you don’t lie or leave anything out. These people are not here to judge you, they only want to make sure you get the care you need.
Next they’ll take a couple of blood samples for examination, and a urine sample. There is a private bathroom you can use to (finally) pee in. Now depending on your sexual activity you may need to use this bathroom to swab the inside of your own mouth, and rectum. If they are necessary, the nurse and doctor will instruct you how to do these self swabs properly and safely
Depending on if you’re showing any symptoms or not, they may need to examine your genitals directly. This will mean you taking your pants off and having them look for cysts, warts, rashes and anything else that should not be there. If they know to look for a specific infection their may be further tests.
And then it’s done. Thank the doctor, grab yourself some free condoms and go have a great day!
One of the best things about this whole procedure? It’s completely free! All you’ll need to do is ask the Nurses for a number to call for the results, which typically take 2 weeks to process.
6. The Results
Waiting for the results can be a bit nerve-wracking, but no matter the results you have nothing to fear. Most STD’s are treatable, if not curable, and many people live with an STD with no change in their quality of life. In any case, it’s always good to know what your health status is, for your own safety and for the safety of those you have sex with. To get your results simply call, and they’ll let you know what you have, if anything.
Now hopefully, the will tell you everything came back negative. Hooray! You don’t have an STI, go get yourself an ice-cream and enjoy the rest of your day. Just make sure to call and set up another appointment in 6 months. Maintaining your sexual health isn’t just a one-time thing. In order to be happy and healthy for as long as possible, doctors recommend going for check-ups twice a year regardless of your sexual activity.
“But what If I call and they say I have something?” Real talk, it’s going to suck. You’re going to feel down. And that’s fine, let yourself feel what you have to feel. But then you ask them what you can do to deal with it. They’ll be able to guide you towards treatments and lifestyle changes to help you make the most of the situation. No diagnosis, not even HIV, is a death sentence and it should not stop you from leading a happy healthy life.