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Deciding When To Visit An STD Free Clinic


Updated February 03, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

How do you know when it's time to go to an STD free clinic? They're not just for when you have STD symptoms. There are, in fact, many reasons a person might choose to go to an STD free clinic including:
  1. Symptoms that might be related to an STD.
  2. Annual, or other preventative, STD screening (such as when starting a new relationship).
  3. Testing after a high-risk sexual encounter.
  4. Learning that a partner has an STD.
  5. Finding out that you were exposed to an STD through a contact notification system.

STD free clinics are not your only option for care in these situations - you can also see your doctor. There are many reasons, however, why some people might prefer to visit a clinic instead. One of the those reasons is that when people do have STD symptoms, they often want answers about what's wrong right away. It may be faster to get seen and tested at an STD free clinic than at your doctor's office - particularly if they have an in-house lab.

However, STD free clinics are not only for people with STD symptoms. Many people with STDs have no symptoms, and can only be diagnosed by laboratory tests. That's why regular preventative screening is so important.

If you know, or think, that you are at risk of having an STD, then an STD free clinic can be a good place to find out for sure. Just remember that even if you are infected, it sometimes takes a bit of time after you are exposed to an STD for a test to turn positive. In some cases, it can take several months. That's why repeated testing is often recommended and why even people with negative test results are counseled to practice safe sex.

Once you've decided to go to an STD free clinic, the only things left to do are find a clinic, call for their hours, and make an appointment -- if they'll let you. Although often you will just need to show up for open clinic hours and wait, there are some STD free clinics that will give you an appointment time. If you can't get one, I highly suggest that you go early. Unlike Emergency Rooms, which take patients based on the severity of their symptoms, most STD free clinics see people in the order in which they show up.

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