The first time around, I put off visiting an STI clinic for months longer than I probably should’ve. As I hadn’t been the safest tool in the shed (so to speak), and with a minor hiccup here and there, the idea kind of really, truly petrified me.
However, the longer I put it off, the more on edge I became. So, eventually, I decided to go with a couple of equally reckless friends because it seemed easier for us all to be scared together than alone. Plus, it was one of my friend’s birthdays so what better way to spend it than sitting in the waiting room of a sexual health clinic fearing for your life?
As it turns out, the fearing of lives was just a tad melodramatic. While I assume it’s common for people to lose their chill before their first visit to the ol’ clinic, I felt so much better after nipping it in the bud.
Here are a few takeaways from my first trip:
A lot of people get tested
The first time I attempted to go to a free clinic in the city, I had the audacity to think I could just stroll on in, wait for a few minutes and then walk out of there an hour later, all tested and just in time for my presumptuous dinner plans.
I didn’t realise that the clinic is genuinely busy – well, at least the one that I went to was. They were full for the day as apparently going in the afternoon can’t guarantee a vacant spot. So, I had to hightail it out there like a run-of-the-mill pleb and go back later with my friends – after booking an appointment, that is. You can also book an appointment with your GP though, if you find that a tad easier (and less busy).
I tell ya what though, the number of hotties in the STI clinic waiting room was off the charts. I’d recommend bringing a business card with your number on it – I mean, you know they take their sexual health seriously so why not?
There were free condoms
Now, I can’t speak for every STI clinic, but I was lucky enough to stumble into one that offered complimentary condoms.
I’m not even talking about one or two that they hand out after you’ve finished getting tested, there was legit a massive punchbowl full of ’em sitting right there in the waiting room. I’m sure there’s some element of trust involved, but as I had nothing else to do except wait, I spent most of that time casually smuggling more and more condoms into my backpack. It’s called being thrifty people, look it up.
Doctors don’t give a toss about your personal life
When you eventually beat out the other suckers in the waiting room for some coveted one-on-one time with the doctor, prepare to get personal.
The doctor will ask you about your sexual history; if you’ve always worn protection; if you’ve had sex with men and/or women; what type of positions you’ve had sex in and so on. The thing is though, they honestly do not get phased by your answers – they’ve heard it all before, they’ve seen it all before and you’d have to go out of your way to shock them.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable disclosing certain parts of your sex life, try to remember that a clean bill of health is way better than not wanting to tell a professional that you like butt stuff – no one cares.
You will have to pee in a cup
At a minimum, you will have to void your bladder into an impossibly small cup so best get used to urinating on your hands now – maybe practice at home by peeing into your housemate’s measuring cup if you’re an overachiever.
Depending on your sexual history, the docs may have to take a prick of blood and/or a swab of your genitals or butt – just a heads up in case you get alarmed when they tell you to pull your pants down.
This is because urine doesn’t test for all of the STIs, so if you want to do a comprehensive test just to cover all bases, you’ll have to provide other bodily fluids for sampling.
Your results may take a while, don’t panic
Depending on where you go, doctors may prefer to text you or call you with your results, and, if you go with someone else, you might not get your results at the same time.
You can imagine my friend’s sheer panic when I got the all-clear text a full day before he did – that was an absolute nail-biter.
But, as you’re told by the doctor when you first go in, many STIs can be treated with antibiotics, so you’re better off finding out sooner rather than later so you can actually do something about it. Plus, usually, most results do tend to come back in a couple of days so you won’t have to be biting your nails for too long.
Either way, you may walk away with a tonne of free condoms which is a result in itself, so you have more than enough reasons to get tested – it’s really a no-brainer.
Just to end on a positive because I’m all about that bright side of life, if STIs are left untreated they can cause long-term damage to your health, so you know, it might just be easier to get tested.
Head to the Queensland Health Stop the rise of STIs website here to read more.