GUM clinics or genitourinary medicine clinics are also known as sexual health clinics. These clinics are usually located at your local hospital or health centre and they provide specialised treatment and support specifically related to the male and female sexual and urinary organs. Your GP may refer you to one of these if you have a condition related to these organs.
What services do GUM clinics provide?
GUM clinics can provide STI tests to check for infections such as syphilis, genital warts, gonorrhoea, HIV or AIDS as well as any other bladder or genital infection such as thrush or cystitis. The staff at these clinics are trained to provide professional advice and support and can inform you about the different treatment and vaccination options that are available. They are also there to provide counselling if you think you may require an HIV test.
Apart from advice and treatments for STIs, your local GUM clinic can also provide you with information on contraception. Depending on the clinic's resources, they may also provide you with free emergency contraception, fit diaphragms or cervical caps and perform smear tests.
When should I consider going to a GUM clinic?
It's generally recommended that most sexually active adults attempt to visit GUM clinics on a regular basis, especially if you've had unprotected sex and think that you may have been infected with an STI or if you are starting a new relationship. You may also want to consider going for a check-up at your local GUM clinic if you are considering having a baby. Your GP doesn't have to know that you've been to a sexual health clinic, and you can even remain anonymous during your visit.
Is there another way to get an STI test other than from GUM clinics?
Apart from visiting a doctor or sexual health clinic, there are certain tests provided at your local pharmacy which can be performed by yourself. These at-home tests kits that are available for chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhoea, mycoplasma genitalium, non-specific urethritis, trichomonas vaginalis and ureaplasma urealyticum. More sensitive tests for HIV or syphilis will still need to be completed at a GUM clinic. The age of these kits tend to be 16-24 years.
Tests ordered online can be completed at home and need to be returned to the clinic where it can be tested in their laboratory. Every specimen is treated in the strictest confidence and the results will be returned to you with instructions on what your next step should be.