What happens at a clinic?

What happens at a clinic?

If you are worried about getting a Sexual Health check-up then let us put your mind at rest by explaining what will happen and what to expect.

We see hundreds of people every week across Devon. Some have questions about contraception, some are looking for advice about healthy sexual relationships and some are worried that they may have caught an STI. We can help! Our doctors and nurses have special training and expertise in sexual health and are the best people to speak to.

Booking an appointment

Booking an appointment

All of our clinics have walk-in sessions, where you can just pop-in to see someone and get some advice or treatment. These do tend to get pretty crowded and you can end up waiting for a while so you may want to book an appointment instead.

Do I need a check-up?

Do I need a check-up?

  • Have you ever had unprotected sex?
  • Has a condom slipped off or split while you were having sex?
  • Do you need advice about contraception?
  • Have you been informed by a partner (maybe via a clinic) that they have an STI?
  • Are you at the end of a relationship or the start of a new relationship?
  • Do you have some symptoms? (It’s important to remember that many STIs have no symptoms)

If you have answered yes to any of the questions above then come and see us.

What happens when I arrive?

What happens when I arrive?

When you arrive go to reception. The receptionist may ask you to fill in a form with your name and contact details as well as some information about why you are attending.  You don’t have to give your real name if you don’t want to.

Everything that happens at a Devon sexual health clinic is completely confidential. We won’t tell your GP or your parents, even if you are under 16, unless we are worried about you. If we do have concerns, we will usually tell you what we’re worried about and discuss with you what we plan to do to help keep you safe.

What questions will I be asked?

What questions will I be asked?

When you meet with a nurse or a doctor, they will ask you some questions. These may seem very personal but they help us find out what might be wrong or what advice you might need.

You might be asked questions like;

  • How many sexual partners do you have?
  • What type of contraception do you use?
  • What type of sex are you having?
  • Have you visited a clinic before?
  • What are you worried about today?
  • Do you have any symptoms?

You will also be asked about your general health and well-being.

Will I need an examination?

Will I need an examination?

It all depends on why you are visiting. If you have come for advice on contraception then we may examine you if an IUD or a diaphragm is the best option for you. If you have symptoms, (signs) of an STI or are worried about something physical then we will probably need to have a look.

The benefits of an examination if you have symptoms are that you would usually get some results straight away, plus treatment too if it’s needed. Being examined is very easy and straightforward.

Try not to feel embarrassed, we see lots of people’s bits every week and are only interested in helping you.

Will I get tested?

Will I get tested?

If you have had unprotected sex at any point and have not had a check-up before then we will recommend that you get tested. Many STIs don’t have any symptoms (signs) but can cause long term health problems so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Find out more about testing.

What happens next?

What happens next?

If you have been fitted with a contraceptive device then we may ask you to book a follow up appointment to check how that is working out for you.

If you have been tested or examined for STIs, then in some cases you will get the results straight away, in others you will be contacted by text or telephone to come in and get treatment, or to be given the all clear.

…and that’s it until you change partners, have unprotected sex, get symptoms or need more advice about contraception. Next time you won’t feel at all embarrassed.


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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

If you need the combined contraceptive pill please try (if you can) to get updated measurements of your height, weight and blood pressure before calling us.

We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info