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Sexual Health Screening

The immediate hours and days after a sexual assault can be traumatic, distressing and chaotic, and we appreciate that you may be feeling emotional, distracted and numb. However, it is our job to ensure you're safe, well and healthy, and you receive advice about emergency contraception, sexual health treatment and pregnancy.

If you have a forensic examination, the doctor will provide emergency contraception, if applicable.  If you attend the Willow Centre - Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), your Crisis Worker will arrange a follow-up sexual health appointment at the Genito Urinary (GUM) Medicine Department at Royal Cornwall Hospital, or a referral to the Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA).  If you are too scared to report a rape or sexual assault, it is still very important that you consider emergency contraception and sexual health treatment. There are a number of ways that we recommend you do this:

1. Contact your GP. You do not have to provide a history or disclose the assault. However you should stress the importance of an early appointment.

2. Contact WRSAC in complete confidentiality on 01208 77099.   Ask for our ISVA who will arrange an appointment with the Genito Urinary (GUM) Medicine Department at Royal Cornwall Hospital on your behalf, using our fast-track referral system. She can also attend and support you at the appointment, if required.

3. Contact the Genito Urinary (GUM) Medicine Department at Royal Cornwall Hospital yourself. If you prefer to do this, you need to provide them with the following information:

a) Tell the receptionist you are a client of The Willow Centre (this is a discreet way of informing the receptionist that a sexual assault has occurred).

b) Ask for a 30 minute appointment.

c) Ask for a Health Advisor to be present.

d) Ask for a female doctor (if preferred).

To book an appointment at GUM Medicine, please call 01872 755044.

The Department of Genito Urinary Medicine is situated at Royal Cornwall Hospital. 

Please note: All visits to GUM Departments are completely confidential, and treatment, including medicine, is free. There is no need to tell your doctor about your visit.

Please do not ignore these very important issues. It is far better to put your mind at rest than it is to worry about 'what might be'.

Sexual Health Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections

Following a sexual assault, it is imperative to undergo sexual health screening to treat potential Sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  STI’s are a major cause of ill health if undiagnosed and untreated.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary between STIs and some have no symptoms at all. Where there are symptoms, these may include unusual discharge from the vagina, heavy periods or bleeding between periods, pain or burning sensation when passing urine, rashes, itching or tingling around the genitals or anus.

Most STIs can be easily diagnosed and treated at your local Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic which is based at The Royal Cornwall Hospital.  An Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) can facilitate an appointment for you at the local GU clinic if you wish . You can also self refer by following the instructions above.  The service is completely confidential and you can choose which clinic to attend as there are several throughout Cornwall.

What to Expect

Tests for STIs vary. Some involve taking swabs from the cervix. Others involve taking a blood sample.

Counselling is usually offered before testing for HIV so that the patient is prepared for the implications of the test result if it is positive.

The doctor may screen for any (if applicable or all) of the following infections:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts
  • Non-specific genital infections (NSGIs)
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Hepatitis B
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Syphilis

Screening for STI’s, though embarrassing for some people, should not be ignored.   It is far better to put your mind at rest than it is to worry about 'what might be'. The GUM Clinic is a discreet, non-judgemental and sympathetic place in which to seek advice and treatment regarding your sexual health.