Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Sexual conditions health centre

Getting tested for STIs

NHS Choices Medical Reference

NHS Choices Logo

There are a number of places where you can get screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics, some GP surgeries, sexual health and contraception clinics.

The National Chlamydia Screening Programme offers free chlamydia testing to men and women under 25 who have been sexually active and do-it-yourself chlamydia tests are available in many places, including colleges and pharmacies.

All advice, information and STI tests are free, but if you go to your GP you may have to pay a prescription charge for any treatment.

Most STIs are initially diagnosed when you experience symptoms. Other STIs are difficult to diagnose initially because they don't show any symptoms, such as chlamydia, gonorrheoa and genital herpes. Because of this it is a good idea to get tested for STIs if:

  • you have had unprotected sex with a new partner recently,
  • you or your sexual partner have had unprotected sex with other people without using a condom,
  • your sexual partner has symptoms, or,
  • you are planning a pregnancy and have been at risk of infection.

Testing

Tests for both men and women may include:

  • an examination of your genitals, mouth, anus, rectum and skin to look for signs of infection,
  • a urine sample,
  • a blood test,
  • taking swabs from the urethra (tube where you urinate) and any sores or blisters, or,
  • taking swabs from the throat and the rectum, although this is less common.

For women the tests might also include:

  • taking swabs from the vagina and cervix (entrance to the womb),
  • having an examination of your vagina.

Confidentiality

All sexual health services are confidential. This means that your personal information, any information about your visit and the tests and treatments that you have will not be shared with anyone outside that service without your permission.

If you are under 16 you still have the same right to confidentiality.

Informing your partner

As STIs are easily passed on through sexual contact, if you have a positive diagnosis for an STI it is important that your current and past sexual partners are notified so that they can be tested and treated, to reduce the risk of spreading and re-infection.

If you do not want to contact your previous partners yourself your local GUM clinic will be able to notify them on your behalf by sending out a contact slip that asks the person to go for a check up at their GP or local sexual health clinic. This will not give your details and will not necessarily say what the infection is that they may be at risk of having.

Medical Review: September 26, 2009

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

WebMD Video: Now Playing

boots-impotence.mov

Erectile dysfunction treatments

Learn what treatments are available for erectile dysfunction and how to talk to your doctor.

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
womans toned abdomen
A workout for a toned tummy
79x79_less_is_more_with_exercise.jpg
Which exercises are safe?
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
Immune-boosting foods
The role of diet
79x79_not_good_for_you.jpg
18 secrets men want you to know
boy looking at broccoli
Quick tips for feeding picky eaters
hamburger and fries
A guide for beginners
salmon dinner
A diet to boost your mood & energy
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting