A Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI for short), is basically any kind of bacterial or viral infection that can be passed on through unprotected sexual contact.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve had sex or how many partners you’ve had; anyone can get an STI.
How do I know if I’ve got an STI?
STIs don’t always have noticeable symptoms so if you’ve had unprotected sex it may not be obvious that you’ve got one. You should always get yourself tested as soon as possible so that you don’t pass anything on or cause yourself long-term harm. You might also need emergency contraception to protect yourself from getting pregnant.
To find out more about STIs visit sexwise.
If you think you may have a STI, you can use Brook’s symptom checker.
Don’t forget the best way of stopping STIs is to use a condom or female condom every time you have sex. Condoms are the only method of contraception that protect against both pregnancy and STIs. Even if you’re using another method of contraception, like the pill, to protect against pregnancy, you should still use a condom as well.
I think I might have an STI, what do I do?
First of all, try not to worry and don’t be embarrassed. It’s important that you get tested as soon as possible and most STIs can be treated quite easily. It’s really common to feel nervous about going for testing but it’s really easy to do. Don’t forget that sexual health services are confidential and will only share information about you if they are worried that you’re at risk of serious harm.
The Riverside Clinic is our local service where you can get tested. They are based at James Street West in Bath city centre, postcode BA1 2BT, just behind Sainsburys in Green Park and about five minutes walk from the Odeon cinema. You can find them on the map here.
What will happen when I go to the clinic?
Your visit is confidential. That means not even your doctor will be told without your permission. If you’re under 16 your visit will be confidential but you will be encouraged to talk to a parent or carer about your visit if you can. In exceptional circumstances, for example if we think that you or another young person is at serious risk of immediate harm, we will try to put you in touch with services that can help. In the most exceptional circumstances we may need to make a decision to breach confidentiality, in order to protect you or another young person.
When you come into the clinic, the staff will welcome you and ask you a few questions in confidence.
You’ll then be asked to take a seat in the waiting room until a member of staff is ready to see you. When it’s your turn, you will be taken into a private room.
Will I have to tell my partner?
You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to, but if you find out you have an STI it is important to let your partners know so that they can also get tested too. This is important so that they get treated and so that you don’t get the STI again from them.
Will I have to pay?
No. Getting tested is completely FREE.
Will I be able to see someone on my own, or do I have to have my parent or carer with me?
You can come on your own and you don’t need a parent or carer with you, even if you’re under 16.
Can I bring a partner or friend with me?
Yes of course! Sometimes its good to bring someone with you especially if you’re a bit nervous. We’ll always talk to you on your own first though, to make sure you’re not doing anything you don’t want to do, for example being pressured to get contraception when you don’t want to. After your initial confidential chat, your partner or friend is welcome to sit with you while you talk to one of our health professionals, as long as you want them to.
Will everyone in the waiting room hear what my problem is?
No. We’ll call you through from the waiting room to have a chat in a private room.
Will the staff judge me?
No. Staff only care about your health and they want to make your visit as comfortable as possible.