What happens if I go to get tested?
Nurses and doctors want to help. They won't judge you and you won't get told off.
The process of testing will be similar no matter where you go to be tested for sexually transmitted infections.
However, different things may happen depending on where you go for your test.
- What is confidentiality?
- Visiting a sexual health clinic or service for the first time
- Getting tested at a GP surgery
- When the doctor or nurse sees you
- Getting your results
- If the results are negative
- If the results are positive
What is confidentiality?
People who work in doctor's surgeries, pharmacies and at sexual health clinics are duty bound to keep your private stuff private.
They won't tell your parents, guardians, teachers or anyone else.
The only times they might tell others are if they think you've had sex very young (12 or under) or to keep you safe if they think that you're in immediate danger.
If they're worried about these things, they will talk to you about it first.
Visiting a sexual health clinic or service for the first time
Sexual health clinics are very private places.
They keep separate health records and will not share any details about you with your GP or other health professionals unless you agree to this first.
This includes the results of your test and the fact that you've been at the clinic.
The fact that you've been tested and any results will not appear on your medical records. They won't tell your parents, guardians or anyone else.
You'll be asked to fill out a form giving some details about yourself.
You can give a different name from your real one if you prefer and you don't need to tell the clinic who your GP doctor is.
Getting tested at a GP surgery
As with visiting a sexual health clinic, the surgery staff will keep everything private.
They won't tell your parents or guardians unless:
- you ask them to
- they think you are in danger and your parents or guardians need to know
- you are very young (under 12).
However, the fact that you've had a test, when it took place and the results of the test will appear on your normal medical records.
You may be seen by a doctor or by a practice nurse.
When the doctor or nurse sees you
You'll be asked a few questions about your sex life.
It's important to answer truthfully as your answers will help the nurse or doctor decide which tests you should have.
They will talk to you about what it means to have a test and why you want to be tested.
Some tests only work after you've been infected for a certain length of time and so you may be asked to come back at a later date.
They may then:
- give you a physical examination to look for signs of infection
- ask you for a sample of urine (pee)
- take a 'swab' sample from your penis, vagina or any sores or other infected areas using a thing that looks like a cotton bud
- take a small amount of blood from you.
Getting your results
The nurse or doctor will talk to you about how you want to receive your results.
This can sometimes be done over the phone but they may prefer that you come back in person to discuss your results.
If the results are negative
In some cases you may be asked to take another test at a later date to make sure there's no infection.
You should also think about why you felt you needed a test.
For the future, check out our advice and how you can have safer sex.
If the results are positive
The nurse or doctor who gives you your results will talk to you about what this means and what you should do next.
They will also talk to you about informing any sexual partners you have or have had so that they can also be tested.
If you prefer not to contact people yourself, sexual health services can arrange to contact your sexual partners to tell them they should be tested. This is done anonymously and no details about you are revealed.
Remember, most STIs can be treated and those that can't be cured can be managed to keep you healthy.