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What to expect from a sexual health test

Virtually Healthcare offers convenient and discreet sexual health testing in the privacy of your home. Our experienced GPs and sexual health doctors can provide free advice, guidance and a comprehensive range of tests to diagnose sexually transmitted infections (STIs), protect your partners and prevent long-term health problems.


Sexual health screening at Virtually Healthcare

Virtually Healthcare provides a wide range of STI tests, free of charge, in your home. The sexual health clinic is run by a doctor that specialises in sexual health, together with two experienced sexual health nurses. If you feel nervous about attending a hospital sexual health clinic, Virtually Healthcare provides professional assessment, treatment and support on the phone, online and face to face.

We recommend regular sexual health tests for anyone who is sexually active. It is especially important to have STI checks if you have changed your sexual partner or are have symptoms such as an abnormal discharge, rash or pelvic pain.

Our sexual health team has links with the NHS STI service, enabling us to send testing kits directly to your home. We will also provide step-by-step guidance in taking samples to check for infection.

The Virtually Healthcare difference

Virtually Healthcare is an innovative GP practice, providing expert care in the comfort, safety and privacy of your home. The Virtually Healthcare service is designed to fit with modern lives. Consultations are easy to access, discreet and convenient, with virtual appointments available seven days a week.

The highly-skilled team includes more than 40 clinicians working together to investigate and treat disease and help you optimise your health and wellbeing. As well as experienced GPs, the team includes sexual health specialists, physiotherapists and practice nurses to offer a comprehensive primary care service.

During the pandemic, many patients are finding it more difficult to access healthcare. Virtually Healthcare provides rapid access video or telephone appointments, with consultations available the same day if you contact us before 3 pm. Our clinicians can provide professional assessment and advice, arrange investigations, prescribe treatment or arrange for a face-to-face review.

How to order an STI test online

Whether you’ve noticed symptoms, had unprotected sex, or want a check-up before sex with a new partner, Virtually Healthcare can provide advice and STI testing. The service is quick, simple and completely confidential.

  1. On the Virtually Healthcare website, make an appointment for the Sexual Health Clinic. You can choose a phone call, video consultation or written advice.
  2. Our sexual health clinicians will talk about your symptoms, your sexual history, and any concerns you have during your consultation. If you have a rash or any physical signs, they may ask you to send a picture to help with diagnosis.
  3. The clinician will arrange confidential testing for sexually transmitted infections. The testing kits will be sent by the NHS direct to your home, together with instructions on taking the tests.
  4. Our sexual health team work closely with our GPs, so you get the treatment and care needed, free of charge through the NHS. We will give you the results and, if required, refer you to a specialist team or send a prescription to your local pharmacy for collection.

How long after sex should I take an STI test?

If you have symptoms of an STI, our sexual health doctors recommend making an appointment for advice without delay. If you have had unprotected sex, it can take time for some infections to show up. To get accurate results, you may need to wait:

  • Around two weeks for infection with chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
  • Four weeks for infection with syphilis or HIV.
  • For HIV, you may need another test three months after exposure1.
  • If you are worried that you have been exposed to HIV, an emergency treatment known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) within 72 hours may prevent infection.

What happens during an STI test?

The STI test procedure will depend on the test and the infection for which we are screening. Virtually Healthcare provides a comprehensive range of STI tests, including:

  • Chlamydia tests using a urine sample
  • Syphilis tests using a pinprick blood sample
  • Gonorrhoea tests using a urine sample
  • Hepatitis B and C tests using pinprick blood samples
  • HIV tests using a pinprick blood sample
  • Trichomonas tests for men using a urine sample
  • Appointments to check for herpes (HSV) or wart (HPV) infection

We will provide containers, forms, postage instructions and clear instructions on collecting the urine or the blood.

How long do STI test results take?

The time to get results will depend on the test. Expect to wait:

  • 7-10 days for chlamydia
  • Up to 2 weeks for gonorrhoea
  • 1-2 weeks for syphilis
  • Various tests are available for HIV. Some provide results at home in fifteen minutes. Results that are sent to the specialist laboratory take around one week. Find out more from the Terence Higgins Trust.

If one of your tests is positive, the sexual health specialist or one of Virtually Healthcare GPs will provide support and prescribe any treatment necessary. If you have HIV or hepatitis, the practice has close links with hospital teams that specialise in the care and treatment of people with hepatitis and HIV treatment. We will refer you for specialist review.

Hot topics in sexual health

Hot topics

Virtually Healthcare’s sexual health specialist reports on the questions and concerns they are currently seeing in their consultations.

Can I prevent HPV infection?

HPV is a wart virus, some variants of which are linked to genital warts. The immune system can usually fight off HPV without treatment. However, some variants of HPV are linked with cancers of the cervix, vulva, penis and anus.

HPV is highly contagious and very common. You can reduce the risk of infection by consistently using condoms during sex, whether oral, anal or vaginal. However, it’s important to remember that the condom will only prevent infection from warts that it directly covers. You should also clean and use a condom on sex toys.

The best way of protecting against HPV is early vaccination before sexual contact starts. Gardisil is a vaccine that protects against HPV infection, including the variants that are linked to cancers. In the UK, girls and boys aged 12-13 receive two doses as part of the NHS vaccination programme.

If you have missed the vaccine, Virtually Healthcare offers the vaccine to men and women 25 years and younger. We also recommend vaccination to men that sleep with men up to the age of 452.

What is super-gonorrhoea?

Super-gonorrhoea is a highly-resistant form of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the disease. It’s resistant to the antibiotics that are usually used to treat the infection and many of the other antibiotics in the medical armoury.
Antimicrobial resistance is a common problem, and there are increasing numbers of super-bacteria. The WHO has said that they have observed:
‘Susceptibility and increased resistance in N. gonorrhoea to the “last line” of antibiotics (cefixime and ceftriaxone).’3

You can reduce your risk of catching gonorrhoea by:

  • Using a condom during oral, anal or vaginal sex
  • Cleaning sex toys
  • Using a condom on shared toys
  • Having regular sexual health screening

Types of consultations we offer

We offer written, telephone and video consultations with a range of male and female clinicians from GPs, nurse practitioners, and primary care specialists such as physiotherapy.