This is Part 4 of our Sexual Health series, brought to you by Just the Facts.


Fear of needles? Think someone’s going to laugh at your junk? Stick a finger where you don’t want it? Nah, it’s really not that scary. Visiting a sexual health clinic for an STI is pretty routine, and if you know what to expect there’s no reason to freak yourself out.

If you have any symptoms you’re worried about, discuss those with the doctor or nurse. They’ll do a visual exam of anything you’ve mentioned to check for physical signs of infection. Some STIs can cause rashes, bumps or blisters. If you have any of these, point them out.

Other tests might include a urine (pee) sample, a throat swab, a vaginal swab for females, or a rectum swab – depending on what kind of sexual encounters you’ve had.

Standard STI checks don’t check for every single STI that exists, so ask your doctor or nurse what you’re being tested for. If you have specific symptoms that might indicate a viral STI like Herpes or HPV then additional tests may be done. HIV is not automatically included in an STI screen, but can be done if requested.

Some STIs take a few weeks to show up in your system – and therefore a test – so while you’re waiting for results, it’s a good idea to steer away from unprotected sex.

Google is not your doctor. It can’t confirm whether or not you have an STI in your system. You need a real, qualified, human professional to check you out. Don’t be scared. Get yourself tested!

For more information about sexual health and what happens during an STI screening, visit Just The Facts – brought to you by the Sexually Transmitted Infections Education Foundation (STIEF), an initiative funded by the Ministry of Health through collective District Health Boards to educate New Zealanders about sexual health and STIs.