How to get a sexual health check scotland

Deborah C. Escalante

Sexual health services online appointments booking system

The sexual health services online appointments booking system provides an easy way for you to find and book an appointment at sexual health clinics across Scotland.

It will help you to book an appointment that is most convenient for you by allowing you to search for an appointment based on:

  • gender
  • age
  • type of appointment or service you require
  • location

What services are offered?

The online booking system will be rolled out gradually across all of Scotland’s health boards and will enable you to book appointments for the following sexual health services:

  • Contraception assessment – including repeat prescriptions
  • Contraceptive coil (IUD) insertion and removal – including emergencies
  • Contraceptive implant insertion and removal
  • HIV PrEP – including repeat prescriptions
  • HIV testing
  • Other STI testing
  • Young persons clinics

The system also lets you state if you would prefer a clinic exclusively for men who have sex with men, or if you need someone to translate for you.

You may find that it isn’t possible to use the system to book all of the services listed above. If the type of appointment or service you are looking for is fully booked or is not available to book online, the system will provide contact information so you can call the service and talk to someone about booking an appointment.

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Whatever your age, sexuality or cultural background there are a range of services available to you in the Lothians which can provide the full range of contraceptive methods, emergency contraception, STI advice, testing and treatment, HIV testing, pregnancy advice and referral for termination of pregnancy.

Some also offer specialist services such as Cervical screening (smear test), colposcopy clinics, community gynaecology clinics, menopause and premenstrual syndrome clinics, sexual problems clinics. Others offer specialist advice and care for, men who have sex with men, anyone at high risk of STI or blood borne viruses and HIV, those who need PEPSE and those who have HIV.

NHS Lothian has a dedicated sexual health website – www.lothiansexualhealth.scot.nhs.uk This site has been created by experts to provide reliable and straightforward information about sexual health and services for people in Lothian.

If you are under 25 there are services specially designed for you. Full details can be found Healthy Respect website. Also take a look at our young people section.

Emergency Contraception

If you think you might need emergency contraception because you have had unprotected sex or your contraceptive method has let you down then phone Lothian Sexual Health on 0131 536 1070 Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm.

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At other times of day, at weekends and on public holidays, you can phone NHS 24 on 111, visit your local ‘out of hours’ pharmacy or attend A&E.

For more information visit www.lothiansexualhealth.scot.nhs.uk/Contraception/EmergencyContraception

Sexual Health Emergencies

If clinics are closed and the problem is so serious that you cannot wait until the next Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) clinic opens – for example if you think you have been exposed to HIV in the last few hours, you have been sexually assaulted, or you are HIV positive and feel seriously unwell – you should contact NHS 24 Tel: 111 or the nearest accident and emergency department.

Staff at NHS 24 and A&E departments can deal with urgent problems and can contact members of our team for advice if required.

Form more information see our Sexual Health Emergencies page.

Sandyford continues to comply with Public Health guidelines on Monkeypox and COVID-19. To ensure the health and safety of both patients and staff, we still require face masks to be worn at all times for those that are able. We remain an appointment only service for our clinics.

We are working hard to return to our normal service levels including reopening our Connect Hubs.

Please view Sandyford’s COVID- 19 service information page which is updated regularly for more information.

Please do not attend Sandyford if you have Monkeypox, COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of either. Contact our switchboard staff on 0141 221 8130 who will be able to assist further.

To find out if you can get tested at the moment and if you can book online, click here.

The way we provide our services has changed. If you have painful or distressing symptoms, or if you need treatment or vaccinations, or if things are complicated, then get in contact with us and we can speak to you by phone and arrange to see you at a clinic if needed. To do this you can book a phone consultation online or by calling 0131 536 1070.

  • Routine check-ups for sexually transmitted infections are available using a Home Sampling Kit. To request a kit call 0131 536 1070.
  • When you register with our service you will be asked for a few details, including name, date of birth and address. We will give you a unique identification number – your clinic PIN. This is used on all samples that leave the clinic, or on your Home Sampling Kit.
  • If you have an appointment you will be seen as near to your appointment time as possible. If it is a phone or NearMe (video) clinic, you will be told what time we hope to call you. This will only be a rough estimate, but you will be seen as near to this time as possible.
  • If you prefer to see or speak to a staff member of a particular gender please tell the receptionist.
  • You can ask for someone else to be present, to be a chaperone, for any part of your visit, or for a telephone or video consultation – not just the examination. We are happy to provide a chaperone for men or women seeing male or female staff members. Please ask. A female nurse or clinical support worker will always be present when female patients are examined by male staff members.
  • We often have medical and nursing students with us when we see or telephone patients – it’s an important part of their learning. But if you prefer not to have a student present during your consultation, let us know, it’s no problem.
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Going for a test to check if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can seem daunting, but it’s really nothing to worry about and a really good thing to do regularly or if you suspect something might not be quite right.

Check out what to expect when you visit a clinic, or the doctors, to be tested, below.

Where can you get an STI test?

You can get tested for STIs at your local sexual health clinic and at some GP surgeries.

Sexual health clinics and GP surgeries are still open during the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, however, drop-in services may have changed.

To get an appointment at a sexual health clinic you must phone ahead to book an appointment. You may receive a consultation over the phone or video first but if you need to be seen in person you will be. To find out your nearest sexual health clinic’s contact details visit NHS Inform.

What will happen at my appointment?

The doctor or nurse will ask you some questions about your sexual activities. Although it might seem embarrassing, they see lots of people every day in similar situations, and it’s important to be honest, as your answers will help the nurse or doctor give you the right advice and/or treatment.

Confidentiality 

When going to a sexual health clinic you do not have to give your real name or address. Nobody can phone the sexual health clinic and ask if you have been recently either. You will need to give them contact details such as a mobile number or an email in case they need to contact you about a result. 

The doctors and nurses at a sexual health clinic are specially trained to help you not feel embarrassed or awkward during your visit and offer a discreet service. This means that they will be prepared to help you, for whatever reason that you visit the sexual health clinic.

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If you visit your GP and are aged 13 or over, the doctor is not allowed to discuss anything you tell them with your parents. Your parents are not allowed to have a look at your records or discuss anything you may have brought up with your doctor, this is against the law in the UK. 

How are STI tests taken?

Most tests will either involve a swab from the vagina or penis, or a urine sample.

For some tests, such as HIV, a blood sample also needs to be taken.

In some cases, a swab may need to be taken from your throat or your bottom.

Swabs can be a little uncomfortable, but they won’t be painful, it will be over in seconds and often you are even given instruction and can do them yourself.

What to do if you can’t get to a sexual health clinic

Sexual health clinics are open during the coronavirus outbreak, however they might be operating different opening times. Take a look at the NHS Inform website to find out more.

If you can’t get to a sexual health clinic, there is a free HIV self-test kits that you can order online to do at home. 

For more information about self-testing for HIV visit the HIV Test Scotland website. Their website offers instructions online and a chat service available throughout the day in case you have any questions or want advice. 

Unfortunately, there are currently no free services for online STI testing kits in Scotland.

When will you get the test results?

Most results take a few days to a week or two to come back.

Some clinics can offer same-day testing if you have symptoms and some STIs, such as genital warts, can be diagnosed there and then just by how they look.

Are STI test results accurate?

Most negative results are highly accurate.

Some infections, such as HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis C can take up to three months to show up in tests, so if it has been less than three months since you had unprotected sex it’s a good idea to pop in and get tested for these again at the three-month mark.

What if you get a positive test result?

Almost all STIs are now treatable with an antibiotics. The clinic will give you advice on what to do next, and can offer advice as to how you can let your current and previous partners know so they can head in for a test. Taking the antibiotics and letting your past or current partners know is protecting your sexual health and theirs. 

It is a criminal offence to willingly have sex or engage in sexual activities with someone when you know you have an STI and have the intention of passing it on. You can face serious consequences if you do this.

The only way to successfully prevent STI’s is by using barrier-method contraception; such as condoms, dams and femidoms. These methods of contraception create a physical barrier which is the only method that helps prevent the spread of STI’s when used correctly. 

For more information about contraception and STI’s, visit our sexual health information page.

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