Visiting the clinic
Genitourinary medicine clinics deal with sexually transmitted infections and many other genital and sexual problems. These clinics are sometimes called ‘GU clinics’ for short
Why go to a genitourinary medicine clinic?
- Staff at genitourinary medicine clinics are specially trained and experienced in genital problems. They also have a reputation for being kind, sympathetic and non-judgmental.
- As well as doctors and nurses, genitourinary medicine clinics usually have special counsellors ('health advisors') who can help you with worries, and give you additional information you may need.
- Genitourinary medicine clinics have facilities for doing tests for all genital infections. For many tests, they will be able to give you the results straight away, and the appropriate treatment.
- You do not need a letter from your family doctor to attend a genitourinary medicine clinic you simply phone the clinic and make an appointment.
- Genitourinary medicine clinics are very confidential. They will ask if they can send the result of your tests to your family doctor, but if you refuse, they will not do so.
What sort of problems can the clinic help with?
Finding a genitourinary medicine clinic and making an appointment
- The telephone number is probably listed in the 'Business and Services' section of your 'phone book under 'Venereal Diseases' or 'Sexually Transmitted Diseases' or 'Sexual Health'.
- You could telephone your local hospital and ask for information about the nearest genitourinary medicine clinic.
- For people in the UK, look at the 'Condom Essential Wear' website www.condomessentialwear.co.uk which has a section on 'Where to get help' that lists your nearest clinic.
When you have located the clinic, telephone to make an appointment. You do not need a doctor's letter. When you telephone, ask for clear directions to find the clinic genitourinary medicine clinics are often tucked away and difficult to find!
Before attending the clinic
- Make sure you know where the clinic is, and leave plenty of time to get there.
- If it is your first appointment, allow at least an hour and a half.
- Women should work out the date of their last menstrual period and when they last had a smear test, and jot them down you will probably be asked for this information.
- Especially for a first appointment, men should try not to pass urine for 2 hours beforehand. This is because samples may be taken for infection at the urethra (pee-hole), and if you have passed urine recently, the evidence could be washed away so the test might be inaccurate. If you are in the waiting room and feel you must pass urine before seeing the doctor, tell a nurse so the urine sample can be taken.
- Switch off your mobile phone.
- Resolve to be completely honest. The questions you will be asked are simply to help make an accurate diagnosis. If you fib even slightly, because of embarrassment, it will be less easy for the doctor to diagnose and treat your problem.
What happens at the clinic
- A urine sample is always needed.
- In men, samples are usually taken from the opening of the urethra, from the anus and from the throat.
- In women, samples are usually taken from the vagina, the cervix (neck of the womb at the top of the vagina), throat and sometimes the anus. To take a sample from the cervix, a speculum is put into the vagina (like having a smear).
All these samples will be examined under the microscope in the clinic by an expert technician, who will look for signs of infection. The samples will then be sent to the laboratory for further, more complicated tests. In most cases, the doctor will be able to tell you what is wrong, and give you treatment there and then. The treatment is free..
Worries about the clinic