Sexual Health Clinic (GU Clinic)

 

Whatever your sexual orientation, if you feel you have behaved in a sexually risky manner (for example, a one-night stand with a stranger or unprotected sex with a person who is not your regular partner), a consultation with our sexual health specialist is strongly advised, to rule out any damaging health consequences.

The Saint James Hospital GU Clinic follows a policy of strict patient confidentiality and no information is disclosed to anyone, without the patient’s prior written consent.

 No doctor referral is required for such appointments.

 For Prompt & Confidential Appointment call: 2329 1000 or send an email on info@stjameshospital.com.

What is the Saint James Hospital Sexual Health Clinic (also known as the Genitourinary Clinic) all about?

The Sexual Health clinic deals with infections contracted in both male and female intimate areas and urinary systems. These infections are mostly transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected partner. Symptoms of such infections include: vaginal discharge, pain or itching in the vagina, discharge from the penis, genital lumps and rashes. Some of the most common genitourinary diseases treated in Malta are: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital herpes, pubic lice, genital warts, and non-specific urethritis and cervicitis.

A  GU screening is advised for:

  • All those who have had sex with someone they do not know well (Straight, Gay or Bisexual), especially if a condom was not used
  • Women with a change in their vaginal discharge or who experience bleeding after sex
  • Men with urethral discharge and/or who experience a burning sensation when passing urine
  • Men and Women who develop genital ulcers
  • Those who notice changes in the genital skin (for example, inflammation or lumps), which may or may not have been sexually acquired
  • All those who are worried that they might have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease, bearing in mind that 80% of infections are completely asymptomatic (meaning that no evident symptoms are experienced)

What are genitourinary diseases?

These are conditions usually caused by infections that can affect the genital area and urinary system.

  • Most infections are caught from another person, usually during sex.
  • Other cases are caused when organisms (bacteria or yeast), which are usually present in small numbers, overgrow and cause symptoms.
  • Some genitourinary (GU) diseases are caused by bacteria that do not cause problems in their usual home in the body, but do if they get into another place.

These diseases are managed at the Saint James Hospital GU clinic.

Who is at risk of sexually transmitted infections?

Everybody of all ages engaging in unsafe sex is at risk, but young people are one of the most vulnerable groups. Young people are very unlikely to have been exposed to any sexually transmitted infections before they start having sex, so they have no chance to build up immunity. In young women, the cervix (neck of the womb) is immature and is easier to infect. In general, women are more likely to be infected by a man than vice versa.

Younger people may have more partners, or change partners more frequently, than older generations. Sexual behaviour is the most important influence on whether you get a sexually transmitted infection. If you have sex with someone who is infected then you are likely to get the infection yourself. The more partners you have the more likely you are to have sex with someone who is infected.

What happens if a genitourinary infection goes untreated?

The consequences of leaving undiagnosed and therefore untreated infections can be serious. Some of the more common complications include infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, cancer of the cervix, testicular pain and swelling, and rarely, joint disease. An infected pregnant mother can of course infect her child whilst still in the womb or during its delivery.

A popular misconception is that a smear test can be used to diagnose these infections; it does not. Smear (Pap) tests are very useful and essential tests for cancer of the cervix, but they cannot diagnose infections.

How do I know if I’ve got an infection?

Some infections, particularly those that are sexually transmitted, can produce no symptoms at all. But they might lead to complications that cause symptoms that prompt you to seek help. Even if sexually transmitted infections do not cause symptoms, they can still be transmitted to sexual partners. Some infections cause very similar symptoms. For example, vaginal discharge in a woman can be due to non-sexually transmitted infections such as thrush, but can also be due to sexually transmitted infections. Non-specific symptoms of change in vaginal discharge and pain on passing urine cannot tell you the type of infection you have contracted. To make a diagnosis, tests need to be taken. Similarly in men, urethral discharge (from the tube in the penis) can be caused by more than one infection. Sometimes symptoms occur but disappear rapidly. This does not necessarily mean that the infection has gone away. Often, the infection remains hidden in the body and, if it is sexually transmitted, the infection can be passed on to a sexual partner.

What are the most common GU infections?

Below is a list of the most common genitourinary diseases encountered in Malta:

  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • gonorrhoea
  • genital herpes
  • non-gonococcal (or non-specific) urethritis
  • muco-purulent cervicitis
  • pubic lice (‘crabs’)
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • trichomoniasis
  • genital warts
  • bacterial vaginosis *
  • cystitis *
  • scabies (passed on through close contact, not necessarily sexual) *
  • thrush (candida)*
  • syphillis

* Note: These diseases are not usually sexually transmitted, but sex can make the symptoms worse, or can sometimes even initiate symptoms.