Sexual Health

This has become very important in recent years with the rapid spread of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) Many of these types of infections have no symptoms and screening tests provide reassurance.All Doctors are trained in the area of sexual health and we offer a STI screening service. This may involve swabs and blood tests which are transported promptly to the appropriate labs.  

What is an STI?

STIs are infections that are passed on from an infected partner(s) during unprotected intimate sexual contact (vaginal, anal and oral)  STIs can also be passed through blood, body piercing, sharing needles and tattooing. They are caused by specific bacteria and viruses. Common STIs in Ireland include chlamydia, genital warts and gonorrhoea. There are many different STIs and the majority can be easily treated. If you think you may have been in contact with an STI or you think you may be at risk; it is a good idea to have a sexual health check-up.

Should I be screened for an STI?

It is recommended that you are tested for an STI if :

  • You or your partner has symptoms of infection
  • You or your partner have had unprotected sex
  • You are about to stop using condoms with your sexual partner
  • You are planning a pregnancy and have been at risk of infection
  • You wish to be reassured

Many STIs are initially diagnosed because of the presence of symptoms. However, other STIs are difficult to diagnose because many patients are symptom-free when first infected.  Conditions which do not usually produce symptoms include chlamydia and gonorrhoea. For this reason, it is recommended that you should have an STI screening test for peace of mind. It is also important to note that testing for chlamydia/gonorrhoea in the absence of symptoms should be delayed for 2 weeks after possible infection to ensure a reliable result. 

What does an STI Test involve?

Tests for both men and women may include:

  •  a sexual history to gain an understanding of your sexual health needs;
  •  an examination depending on your symptoms
  •  a urine sample (men only)
  •  a blood test

For women the tests might also include:

  •  taking swabs from the vagina and/or cervix  

 

How long will my test take?

Your appointment will take approximately 30 minutes 

Who will carry out my test?

Our assessments are carried out by trained nurses and doctors. All of our medical staff are highly experienced, well-trained and have specialist interest in sexual health. We cater for men and women who want to be treated quickly and without fuss in a friendly, non-judgemental & non-discriminatory environment. Your test will be carried out using sterile, single use, disposable equipment for complete reassurance and safety in a modern and hygienic setting. 

When will my results become available?

Results are usually available within seven working days. Your results will be communicated to you by telephone or post. Please indicate your preference at your assessment.

Before my STI test:

  • For men please do not urinate for 2 hours prior to getting tested
  • You do not need to fast
  • For women, testing is less reliable during a period so please come at an alternative time in your cycle 

What happens if my STI test is positive?

Your results will be communicated to you via telephone to discuss treatment and follow-up. 

How much does my STI test cost?

At Blackrock Medical Practice, we are offering a competitively priced comprehensive STI testing service for €95. This includes your consultation with the Doctor/ Nurse who will take a history from you and discuss your sexual health needs with you and carry out the assessment.We offer a reduced rate of €75 for third-level students. We can also offer a discount for two people coming in for screening at a reduced rate of €85 each. Please mention this to the receptionist when you make your appointment.Payment can be made by cheque, credit card, laser card or cash. 

How do I make my appointment?

Phone 01 2835747 to make an appointment with our staff who will arrange anappointment to suit your needs in an efficient and confidential manner. You can also contact us via email at info@blacrockgp.ie to request an appointment. 

Confidentiality

All sexual health services are confidential.This means that your personal information, any information about your visit and the tests and treatments that you have will not be shared with anyone outside that service without your permission.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

How will I know if I have an STI?

Every STI is different, some have noticeable symptoms and some do not. Because of this you may not know that you have an STI so we would always advise you to have a check up if you have had unprotected sex.Symptoms include:

  • Unusual discharge
  • Pain when passing urine
  •  Soreness
  •  Blisters
  • Itching or irritation around the genital area
  • Pain during and after sex
  • Fever 

Information on Common STIs 

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is called the ‘silent’ disease because most people who get it do not have any noticeable symptoms. Around 50% of men and 70-80% of women who get the chlamydia infection will have no symptoms. Undiagnosed chlamydia can lead to more serious long-term health problems and infertility. The chlamydia infection can be easily diagnosed through a simple swab or urine test. Once diagnosed, it can be treated with antibiotics

Genital warts

Genital warts are small fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes that appear on or around the genital oranal area. Genital warts are the result of a viral skin infection that is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).Genital warts are usually painless and do not pose a serious threat to a person’s health. Condoms do not provide complete protection because it is possible for the skin around your genital area (that is not covered by the condom) to become infected. Several treatments are available, such as creams and cryotherapy (freezing the warts) and they have a good rate of success

Gonorrhoea 

Gonorrhoea is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. Typical symptoms are an unusual discharge from the vagina or penis and pain when urinating. Gonorrhoea can be easily diagnosed through a simple swab test and treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious long-term health problems and infertility.

Genital herpes 

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 or type 2. It causes painful blisters to appear on the genitals and the surrounding areas. HSV is highly contagious and can be passed easily from one person to another by direct contact. Genital herpes is usually transmitted by having sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with an infected person. Even if someone with genital herpes does not have any symptoms, it is possible for them to pass the condition on to a sexual partner.Once someone has been exposed to HSV, the virus remains dormant (inactive) most of the time. Although there is no cure for genital herpes, the symptoms can usually be effectively controlled using antiviral medicine.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is usually passed on through having sex with someone who is infected. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her unborn child and, in rare cases, can be caught through injecting drugs. Symptoms of syphilis begin with a painless but highly infectious sore on the genitals ors ometimes around the mouth, followed by the development of a skin rash and sore throat. If diagnosed early, syphilis can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, if it is not treated, syphilis can progress to a more dangerous form of the disease and cause serious conditions such as stroke, paralysis, blindness or even death.

HIV

The humanimmunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the body’s immune system. A healthy immune system provides a natural defence against disease and infection. If the immune system is damaged by HIV, it increases the risk of developing a serious infection or disease, such as cancer. HIV is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids. This most commonly happens during unprotected sexual contact, such as vaginal, oral and anal sex. People who inject illegal drugs and share needles are also at risk of catching HIV. The condition can also be spread from a mother to her unborn child. While there is currently no cure for HIV, treatments have been developed that enable most people with HIV to stay well and live relatively normal lives.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Women are more likely to have symptoms than men. They may have soreness and itching around the vagina and a change in vaginal discharge, while men may experience pain after urination and ejaculation. Trichomoniasis is unlikely to go away without treatment. Most men and women are treated with antibiotics which is very effective.Trichomoniasis rarely causes complications.

Pubic lice 

Pubic lice (phthiruspubis), also known as crabs, are tiny blood-sucking insects. They live in coarse human body hair, most commonly pubic hair, and cause itching and red spots. Pubic lice are caught through close contact with someone who has them. The most common way is during sexual contact. Pubic lice can usually be successfully treated with insecticide medicines. If pubic lice are caught through sexual contact, it is recommendedthat tests are also done for other sexually transmitted infections

Preventing STIs:

Using a condom: using a male condom is the most effective form of protection against STIs when having sexual intercourse. Make sure the condom you use is within its use-by date printed on the packet and it is put on the penis properly.

Limiting your number of partners: the less sexual partners you have, the more you reduce your risk of contracting an STI. Remember that if your partner has sex with other people this will also increase your risk of contracting an STI.

Get tested: you can never be 100% sure that a prospective sexual partner does not have an STI, and the more sexual partners that you or they have had, the higher the risk of contracting an STI. If you have a new partner, you should both get tested for STIs before having sexual intercourse.

How are STI’s treated?

Most STI’s are very easily treatable with a short course of antibiotics, some STI’s may require different treatment but we can talk to you about that in more detail if you do test positive for them.