FAQs about STI Testing

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There is no such thing as a stupid question; every question is valid and reasonable. Here are some examples of the type of questions we are asked on a regular basis about STI screening.

Do they have a men’s day and a women’s day?

No, not in Limerick, Clare or Tipperary North. Other places might do specific days for people but you will need to call them to find out.

Why don’t they have a men’s day and a women’s day?

The team of people who run the STI Service in the Mid-West have to split their time between each county. If we had more resources so Limerick STI Clinic could be staffed full time they might have the facility to do a men’s clinic, a women’s clinic and any other requirements.

Can I just turn up?

No, in Limerick, Clare or Tipperary North you must make an appointment in order to be screened.

Is there a waiting time to get an appointment?

Normally you are seen within a week, sooner if you have symptoms and mention these. However, waiting times can vary depending on the time of year.

Is it confidential?

Yes. Everything that happens in the STI Clinic is confidential. Your results are not recorded on your medical history with your family GP unless you ask them to be.

OK, but is it private? Will I know anyone?

As the waiting area is for all appointments, there will be other people present in this area and you may see people you know. If you are worried about this you can book an appointment in an area where you do not live. The important thing to remember is that everyone you see at the STI Clinic is there for similar reasons, either they are finding out their sexual health status or they are maintaining their sexual health.

Who needs to know I am getting screened?

The only people who need to know you are getting screened are only the people you wish to tell. There is no requirement for you to tell anybody that you are getting tested. An STI screening is the same as going to your doctor for an appointment.

How much does it cost?

There is no fee if you go to the STI Clinic. Everything there is free, the appointment, tests, treatment and the follow up. You may choose to go to a private doctor and pay if you wish, however, this may have implications for your medical history.

Will it hurt?

Testing should not hurt. It may be uncomfortable at times but this discomfort should not last long.

When will I know my results?

You will have all your results within two weeks apart from the cervical smear (women only), which can take between 6 and 8 weeks. You may receive some results on the day.

How old do I have to be?

Legally you can make your own medical decisions at 16 but anyone, of any age, can call and ask about being screened.

If I get screened will they know I am not a virgin?

They only know what you choose to tell them and what they find in the test results. Some STI’s can develop without sexual contact, like Thrush, BV and NSU’s so you may require an STI screening without ever having had sexual contact with someone else.

Will it be embarrassing?

You might feel embarrassed yes, after all, your genitals are going to be looked at and you are going to have to talk about your sexual history. Try not to worry about being embarrassed because the doctors and nurses who work at the STI Clinic have seen all sorts of people and all kinds of genitals every day. They are friendly and relaxed about what they do and they make it as easy as they can for their patients.

I heard they put a huge umbrella down the end of your penis – is that true?

No. The only time an ‘umbrella’ may be used is if you have a blockage in your urethra that needs clearing. This is not an umbrella but a medical tool designed especially for the job! This kind of treatment is rarely necessary but may be required in some cases.

What if I get a hard on?

The STI Clinic is not that sexy a place. It is quite difficult to feel horny when you’re in the clinical examination room. If you do get a hard on, it won’t get in the way of being screened.

What if I get wet?

You can ask to wipe before they take a look at you. If you’re worried you might think about wearing a panty liner that day.

How long will it take?

The test themselves are quite quick but there can be a long wait in the waiting room. We would recommend that you give yourself all morning and get there as early as you can. The sooner you get in, the sooner you get out.

Do I have to pee in a cup?

Yes you do. There is a urine test for both men and women. Men need to hold their urine for 4 hours before getting tested.

Will they take blood?

Yes they will. Certain tests can only be done with a blood sample. These are HIV, Hepatitis and Syphilis. They will also do a full blood count (FBC).

Will I be able to go back to work?

Yes you will. None of the test should cause you the inability to return to work, however, some women do not respond well to the cervical smear so be aware of yourself and your own needs, and if you do not feel like going back to work try to arrange to have the whole day off.

Will it hurt?

Testing should not hurt. It may be uncomfortable at times but this discomfort should not last long.