So you woke up the morning after Valentine’s day, slightly hungover and full of regret. This regret rapidly turns into paranoia.
Not to fear, I’m here to guide you through your entire journey at an STD clinic in Singapore, and what to expect each step of the way.
STD clinic contact details at end of post.
Step 1: The Morning After.
Head down as early as you can to get the first appointment and minimize your time spent at the clinic.
Most people try their best to look as inconspicuous as possible while waiting for the clinic doors to open. If you insist on loitering by the entrance, try wearing a pair of shades and a cap. Otherwise, I’d recommend having a coffee at the Kopitiam nearby.
When the doors finally open, go to the front counter and register to get your queue number.
While in the waiting area, patients often read a magazine or newspaper to look even more discreet. That is, unless you’re a repeat customer, in which case you'll probably look as nonchalant as that guy waiting for his Macs order of cheeseburger and fries.
Step 2: The STD Nurse.
The first person to get his hands on you is the STD nurse. He will take a brief history, and perform some relevant tests according to the information you provide.
They're some of the most experienced people where STDs are concerned, and usually instantly know what you’ve caught from your description alone. This allows them to screen you for all the right tests.
Some questions to expect: “Why are you here, how long have you had it for, did you use a condom…”
Yes, this is also where you show your private bits – any funny cauliflower-like growths, discharge, ulcers, etc.
Some of the tests include: Peeing into a bottle, and the nurse using a long cotton bud to take a swab of discharge from your penis. If you're female, it will be the doctor performing the speculum examination later on.
The nurse types a summary of your history, physical exam, as well as what tests they’ve performed.
Eg: “16 year old male with history of unprotected sex presents with painful urination and copious discharge from penis? gonorrhoea”.
Step 3: The Doctor’s Room.
The doctor buzzes you in next, after some more waiting.
I’ll have looked through the nurse’s notes by this point, so know roughly what to expect when I meet you.
Your doctor might ask you one or two additional details, especially with regard to your sexual history - not because we are kaypoh, but because it helps our overall management and diagnosis.
When it comes to how many sexual partners, I tend to start with an exaggerated figure like “more than 50 partners in the last 6 months?”
As with smokers and number of cigarettes smoked a day, I’ve noticed that patients are more truthful when you overplay the numbers of sexual partners (they tend to think “oh..I’ve only had sex with 17 people in the last 6 months – the doctor’s not gonna judge me”).
After a chat, it’s time to drop your pants again for examination. For females, we need to do a speculum exam to collect the necessary test samples. This involves a few swabs of a long cotton bud at your cervix (may be slightly uncomfortable, definitely not painful).
I’ve found that patients tend to start off shy, but when they realise that we're totally non-judgmental, they normally become much more relaxed.
It’s also an opportune time for me to do a little bit of sex education, hand out condoms from my goody bag, provide information leaflets about STDs etc.
Step 4: The Waiting Game.
It’s back to more waiting, while you wait for the test results to come back. Some results such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea are usually back in a few hours, others take much longer (in which case we’ll tell you to go for lunch and come back in the afternoon).
The STD clinic usually has an in house lab, where the samples can be processed and analysed under a microscope. Once the results are out, you’ll get buzzed in again by the doctor.
Step 5: The STD Regrets.
The test results are usually close to 100% accurate, so we rarely need to recheck them.
If you had risky unprotected sex and had been experiencing all those symptoms, you probably expected the positive results anyway.
Your doctor will explain the treatment for your STD (usually a week or two of antibiotics, or a couple of penicillin jabs in the case of syphilis), proclaim a commandment (no sex for 2 weeks!), then send you on your way to the treatment room or counsellor's room.
Step 6: The Treatment Room.
The treatment room is run by extremely experienced nurses once again.
If you've got genital warts, they'll use cryotherapy, or liquid nitrogen to freeze them off (although warts can and will keep coming back, which is why the HPV vaccine is so important).
If you caught syphilis, you’ll need 3 penicillin jabs over the course of three weeks.
Step 7: The Counsellor’s Room.
This is the time for you to ask all those burning questions about sex and STDs that you've always wanted to ask.
In Singapore, all new serious sexually transmitted infections – such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS and syphilis must be reported to Ministry of Health for follow-up monitoring. This limits the spread of disease.
An important part of the counsellor’s job is therefore to do contact tracing. He will advise you to inform your partners to get screened too. If you’d rather not, he can also offer to contact them anonymously on your behalf.
Step 8: The Pharmacist
The meds you need are sent electronically from the doctor’s room to the pharmacist, so you just need to wait for your queue number to pick them up.
After that, it’s payment at the front counter. If you did catch an STD, you’ll be given another appointment to return in two weeks time to get rechecked.
In some cases, STD results can take a couple of days – in which case, you’ll only get an SMS alert to return to the clinic if results are positive.
I hope you that you've found this alternate Valentine’s day tale useful. I've listed below the contact details of the DSC clinic, a government run STD clinic.
DSC Clinic Address:
31 Kelantan Lane #01-16 , Singapore 200031
Phone: +65 6293 9648
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Confidential counselling or queries about STIs:
Tel: 1800 252 1324