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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

Most people are worried about attending a clinic for the first time, but they usually find it totally fine.

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?

 You can attend a genitourinary medicine clinics for tests if you think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, whether or not you have symptoms (such as a discharge). You can attend the clinic to be tested for HIV. The clinic could also help you if you think something is wrong with the shape or appearance of your genitals.

Finding a genitourinary medicine clinic and making an appointment

There are several ways of finding your nearest clinic.
  • 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 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

If it is your first visit, you will see a doctor or a specialist nurse. The doctor or nurse will talk to you in private, and will ask you about your symptoms (if any), your recent sexual contacts and various medical questions. The doctor will then examine you, and then the doctor or nurse will take samples for testing. Before taking the samples, the doctor or nurse will talk to you about them, and make sure that you are happy for them to be taken.
  • 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..

Blood samples are usually taken, after discussion with you, to test for syphilis and/or hepatitis. If you wish, the clinic can also test you for HIV. You will also be given an opportunity to talk to the counsellor ('health advisor'), who will give you more information about your problem.

Worries about the clinic

It will be embarrassing. Genitourinary medicine clinics are not at all embarrassing. The staff deal with genital problems all the time it is their job. To them, the genital area is just an ordinary part of the body.
The waiting room will be full of seedy people. The other people in the waiting room are just like you ordinary people who are worried and trying to sort a problem out.
I do not want to talk about my sex life. They will think I have had too many partners. The staff are not at all judgmental about people's lifestyles. They are more interested making a diagnosis of your problem, and giving you the right treatment.
The tests will be painful. For women, the tests are not painful (unless you count a blood test as painful). For men, taking the sample from the opening of the urethra ('peehole') is uncomfortable, but it takes only a moment.
They will do an HIV test and I’m not sure if I want one. You will probably be asked if you would like an HIV test, and it will be explained to you properly. If you are not sure, no one will try to persuade you you can always go back and have it done another time.
They will send a letter to my family doctor telling him/her things about my sex life that I don’t want him/her to know. The clinic will ask you if you want the results of tests to be sent to your family doctor. Often this is a sensible thing to agree to, but if you do not wish it, they will not do so. The letter will not go into details about your sex life it will probably be a short letter explaining the results. If you are worried, ask the doctor to tell you what information will be in the letter.
There will be medical students there. Clinics often do have medical students, because they have to learn about genital problems in order to become useful doctors. There will be one or two, not a huge group. They are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as everyone else in the clinic. The students are usually exceptionally sympathetic to people attending sexual health clinics, and may in fact make your visit nicer. However, if you would prefer not to have students there just say so.

Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Tuesday, October 4th 2011


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Comments on this article

Posted by mawety on 12/11/2015 at 05:04

I did not find what was I looking for.

Posted by Optional on 03/06/2015 at 04:40

Was constipated and moved my bowels. Felt a discharge from my penis while straining. It was a cloudy white substance. I rubbed some between my fingers and it got thick, foamy and white as it dried up. Any idea what it could be. Plus I experienced small blisters on my penis that turned into sores and healed up in a couple of days. Any idea what I'm dealing with?

Posted by My Name is Name on 20/01/2015 at 07:12

Ok so im going to the doctors Feb.4 2015 and me and my dad arent really on good terms right now but thats a whole other but anyway so he wants to get me tested to see if I have had sex and on first note im way too afraid ,and young to have sex and im not that type of person to do that type of stuff at this age im third-teen and i juss feel that its very disrespectfull that hes doing this but i just want to know what there gonna ask me and to see what my results are gonna be because im scared cause what if its like a lie detector test and it say the wrong results im juss like if it says that im not have sex then awesome buhh if it says that i am im juss never gonna talk to anyone ever again ☺

Posted by Optional on 28/02/2014 at 05:40

I was in hospital a few years ago, and they referred me to a GUM clinic. I didn't go to the appointment because I didn't think it applied to me because I have never had sex before, so I couldn't have caught a sexually transmitted disease.

Posted by faimaanali on 15/12/2013 at 10:02

I am very concerned about my fiance.. he lives in Bahrain and am from Pakistan 2 weeks back he told me he masturbated.. just before ejaculating he felt some sort of a burning feeling on the tip of his penis and when he looks at it it started to bleed, I'll be adding a one more thing is that he's a virgin he's going through some serious problems he shared this with me am completely unaware.of this entire situation. It scared me more when.he had a seasonal fever, he's not going to the doctors and I don't.understand how bad is this situation.. is it an infection disease or what? Is it transferable? He's embarrassed to go to a female doctor ( he's making excuses I know) but he needs help even if on his terms.. please please I need a response

Posted by Skye on 15/12/2013 at 07:54

Pls I have an itch down at my genitals , it all started after I had a fling with a gal and since then it's been itching me both the red spot on my penile head and the tiny spots on the penile shaft. Am scared it might be herpes or something worse, pls I need help!

Posted by Optional on 11/12/2013 at 11:26

I am trying to find a clinic without my mothers assistance(making my own appointment). I'm shy and scared, can I just call to make an appointment? And will there be a cost

Posted by Optional on 01/12/2013 at 07:17

I went to get tested for std n came back all negative yet I still get a white discharge from the tip of my penis should I be worried

Posted by Optional on 06/05/2013 at 11:43

Hi,where can I find a genitourinary medicine clinic in Pretoria

Posted by on 20/03/2013 at 05:39

To Optional 15/03/13, you may find our section on Anal Pain helpful - click on the Anal tab at the top of the website.

Posted by Optional on 15/03/2013 at 09:59


Posted by Optional on 03/02/2013 at 06:55

Found the info useful, very clear and consice info which helpd me to diagnose the issue. Off to a doc now. Thx

Posted by Option on 27/12/2012 at 08:44

I have not been sleeping around,I am a family man , who has developed redness and itchiness on my penis.

Posted by Optional on 11/10/2012 at 09:11

Green vaginal discharge. Pains in left side hip. Feeling really unwell. Pain in pelvic area. Upper back and legs hurt. I generally feel that i have no energy and to do anything even like to stretch my leg out. It pulls and hurt. Also my boobs are hurting. But im not pregs. Anyone have any ideas? Im going to take a sample of the green dishcharge into the doctors tomorrow. Can they test it there and then

Posted by sammy on 02/10/2012 at 11:59

Am bleeding from my pennis serious bleeding and it getting me very worried

Posted by Private on 30/09/2012 at 12:13

Am a fat lady and i want to know the course of peeling inbetween the thighs close to the virgina area??? And the solution to it...

Posted by Optional on 26/07/2012 at 08:03

I need to know the location of Gu clinics in Nairobi

Posted by Optional on 19/07/2012 at 04:59

Iam a 23 years old female, last year i was infected with stds and i visited a clinic. At the clinic they gave me 10 pills to drink while i was still there, and they also gave me a viginal cream and some pills to take home. I did what they said i must do but im supriced the same thing that happened last year is still happening again this year even though i did take treatment, now im wondering if my life is in danger or not cause those painfull blisters in the mouth of the vigina still comes back. What can i do?

Posted by LogosOverPathos on 15/06/2012 at 08:56

I’m 25 and have had this problem FOR A LONG TIME; not to mention it was during the time I was gearing up for college and real life. I know whoever reads this will wonder what’s wrong with me, why haven’t I ever went to the doctors earlier - well my mom is a control freak and this is why, my money is her money for her agenda for me on her timeline. Or elseI’m kicked out of my house and without a job, because I work for the families grocery. I apologize in advance for writing so much, I’m know some of the information will most likely be extraneous. You must understand though, my reasoning for typing SOooOo much about my past is because I know hygiene can be a factor (Though I am circumcised,) AND I've had this problem for WAY TOO LONG, I'm talking 7-8-9 years, I’m almost afraid that the causative effect of not treating my problem will result in prostate cancer at this point. And in all seriousness my uncle had prostate cancer and shot himself in the head, probably since he didn’t want to deal with the cancer (This is why I want to commend whoever invented this website, embarrassing problems can’t be bottled up - especially in this age of so much misinformation.) Anyway, my primary problem is A LOT of bubbles in my pee... LOTS. Really, sometimes I virtually can’t see past the bubbles. That level of bubbles almost always takes place after a long nap, or when I wake up in the morning; it’s like with 97% bubbles and 3% of my urine is actually visible. Another relatively new troublesome symptom that has happened a handful of times in the past year is when I am trying to pass an extra difficult stool. My penis will seep out what looks to me to be a mix a semen and urine, though I’m concern that maybe it’s pus. Either way I feel like it’s not natural. This discharging problem has happened approximately 3-6 times that I can think of, though I don’t always look down to see if anything discharged out of my penis since it worries me. So now that I turned 25, I feel more obligated to take care of things; ESPECIALLY a problem like that. SO, I saw my GP, and got tested; to my surprise, I have no urinary tract infection (which is NOT what I expected) and no STDs (also NOT what I expected). But the thing is I didn’t tell her about the discharge when I poop. I haven’t gone back since because work and bills are keeping me from paying for the visit. So I guess I'll just get into my history and how my embarrassing problem ultimately got worse and worse; hopefully someone somewhere can help me out. Anyone have any idea what this is??? How can I fix it?? I've had it since 17!! That's when I went to college and failed. Everythings been down hill ever since

Posted by Optional on 12/06/2012 at 02:43

I am married for one year,and i have a rapid ejaculation problem,or impotence,thing that causes me some concern and i'm afraid that my wife might be so,i logged to get on line clinic to get a treatment for my problem,but the medicine they presecribed to me "permastop"is not available here ,so i want its alternative,but i am also grateful to get your advice.

Posted by Optional on 02/06/2012 at 02:13

couple of days back i came to know tha my penis is releasing white milky colour fluid regularly & i have pain also Please guide me what to do or what precaution should be taken..

Posted by Optional on 23/05/2012 at 08:17

i was treated for thrush a couple of weeks ago but it has cum back. my symptoms are itchy red swollen vagina, yellowy blob discharge and quite painful around the whole area

Posted by Karen on 18/02/2012 at 09:32

My name is Karen, and I'm 44 years of age. Recently, I've noticed what appear to be warts around my vagina, and I have only ever had chlamydia for around three months before it was treated at 20. My ex husband was free of sexual diseases, but my new boyfriend admits to having genital herpes, but no warts whatsoever, and we have only ever had sex with condoms. I also am posting it on this page because I don't want my children to find out. They are smart, and are fifteen, twelve and eleven, and are all home-schooled and my boyfriend has a six day, eight hour job. There are no relatives living close around, and we live on a farm nine kilometres from the nearest sight of civilisation. If you could give some advice that'd be great and whether to visit a GU clinic or not.

Posted by Optional on 16/12/2011 at 10:17

My partner has Chlamydia infection is it possible for me to sleep with her and not contrct the infection , how accurate are the tests

Posted by Optional on 01/10/2011 at 02:13

This is very much helpful thanks

Posted by shy to discuss on 29/08/2011 at 07:29

last july i noticed some irregularities with my penis...but i just ignored it i thought it was just brought by hardcore/intense sexual intercourse, when i was about to fly going to cambodia I have noticed something grew in my organ, now im in cambodia and searched it on the net...i found out that I have genital warts....please help me while it still not complicated.

Posted by Optional on 21/03/2011 at 02:31

hai i am 24 years old now.... from my age of 16 i ve problem in my discharge... my discharge is light green in color.... i din have sex with anyone.... i ve visited many gyno... they gave me some tablets but no use... still i ve the same problem... now i am married.... please help me

Posted by Optional on 13/03/2011 at 09:03

i am so worried. i havd been married for 24 years when my husband left me for another woman. i was devastated i didn't think i would find any one. i meet a new male friend through another friend of mine we got on great he lives quite away from me so contact is prehaps every three weeks we get on so well i had never slept with another man before apart fom my husband so this was m second sexual partner, i have just had really bad symptoms of herpes, i have been alittle unwell as i am wwaiting to go to hospital as i have a blocked salivary gland and this has made me quite ill.then the last few weeks i have lost weight then i had a cold sore and then got blister like lumps on my bottom. i went to my docs who gave me aciclovar for my cold sore but dissmissed what i told him about my bottom i don't know whether i should go to the gum clinic? i feel so let down as this is the second sexual partner in my life i feel so alone in this.

Posted by Optional on 14/01/2011 at 06:41

I am being managed for incomplete miscarriage and the gestational sac(8 weeks 2 days) is now at the cervix. I have been given 1000mcg misoprostel 2 days ago. I may have to wait up to 2 weeks for the content to empty. The incomplete miscarriage is into its 2nd week. prior it was delayed 2 weeks (ineuterine gestational sac. The uterus is now empty. The reason for emailing you is i have recently developed a strong fishy odour. I think I should have some tests done for any infections down below. Can I do this at a sexual health clinic. the hospital treating me is so busy and the doctors rushing around i dont feel able to go there and i am worried about any possible infection to do with my predicament, which is not a straightforward sexual health matter. I have not had sex since conception and was tested for any STDs before conception - all clear. i do not have a temperature, any heavy bleeding and am unable to tell you the colour of discharge because i am spotting. what shall i do please.

Posted by Optional on 30/12/2010 at 12:30

In the past 3 years, I've had intercourse two times, both with the same man. After the 1st time with him, I revenues symptoms of an STD: foul odor, greenish discharge, kidney infection. It took two diagnoses for one of the doctors to say I had BV (Bacteria Vaginosis). Symptoms didn't clear with treatment. I thought I may have forgotten a tampon; examination said no. It has now been over a year, with a handful of visits to clinics (no health insurance + single mom). TMI: I smell like something died inside me. I fear I will never have sex again. Any idea what is wrong with me, that several clinicians have been unable to diagnose?

Posted by jacksonbt on 25/11/2010 at 03:30

I have experienced white painful discharge from my penis and i am worried because i have not joined sex with any person therefore what causes this.

Posted by Angela J on 25/10/2010 at 08:09

Am scared anytime i want 2 defecate i always end up seeing blood. It reali gives me d creeps,i wonder if there is a genuitary clinic in abuja i wouldnt mind visiting one could u help tanks

Posted by Toto on 26/09/2010 at 05:55

I shaved my genital hairs n i started having a burning itchiness around the vaginal area. I had sex with my byfriend 3wks ago and he had blisters on his dick while we had sex and twas unusual. I had my periods a week ago. Could i have an STI? The itchiness is irritating!

Posted by nameless on 16/08/2010 at 01:56

Have been experiencing itching on the vulva for the last six year, you just know how uncomfortable one can be. I decided to visit Nairobi Women's Hospital to get it sorted once and for all. After going through their test and given a prescription I was referred to see a dermatologist. I was told this is not a gynecologist area diagnosing me with no problem. Seeing a dermatologist didn't help me much since at the end of it all he wanted me to go back to a gynecologist. I have bought drugs across the chemist but in vain. I just hope to find a genitourinary medicine clinic around my area where I can find real help. Please help me find one

Posted by Optional on 07/07/2010 at 03:07

hi , i have a husband which has problems on his penis . hes to shy about this to talk about it , we didnt have sex and he says he didnt have any sex with any one . he has been having discharge from his penis sometimes but it has become worst he cant walk properly and has pain in his stomach. is their any pills to stop this and what is causing him that? reply back plz

Posted by J on 07/03/2009 at 11:39

I assume the patients will have their choice of the gender of their doctor and nurse. Is that right?


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