For anyone wanting to look after their sexual health and make informed decisions
around their contraception choices, iCaSH Suffolk is the place to go. Clinics are located in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and Lowestoft.
iCaSH (Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health) services are available without needing a letter from your GP and are free, confidential and non-judgemental. There’s no need to be embarrassed, as clinic staff are used to talking about sensitive issues and have most likely heard or seen it all before. The last thing they’d want is for any embarrassment to get in the way of you attending one of their clinics.
For attending a clinic, you have two choices. You can either phone iCaSH Suffolk on 0300 123 3650, to book an appointment, or you could visit www.icash.nhs.uk, pick the clinic you’d like to go to and make a note of their walk-in times.
The walk-in clinic can be busy though, and although the aim is to see you within two hours, sometimes this can be longer. For those booking an appointment, you’ll be asked to attend five minutes before your appointment time to complete registration.
Whichever option you choose, a full check up may take up to an hour and a half so please give yourself enough time! During your appointment, you’ll be asked a few questions – some will be personal, and some may not apply to you. They will also ask about current and previous partners. All questions are designed so that appropriate advice can be given, tests can be carried out, and treatment given.
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are routinely tested for. For women this would usually mean a painless swab being taken and for men, a urine sample. Men would be advised not to wee for two hours before they are seen.
Blood testing for syphilis and HIV would be recommended for new patients and those at risk. You will not be tested for HIV without your knowledge or consent.
Physical examinations on men are not routine, unless there’s anything you’re concerned about. Again don’t be embarrassed if there’s anything you are worried about – this is your chance to get these things checked out and get treated for if needed. For women there may be a need to carry out an internal examination to check for pelvic inflammation, and for those who have never had this done before, the procedure will be explained to you with staff doing their best to put you at ease.
Results are usually given by text if you’ve supplied a mobile number. If positive for an infection, information about treatment will be given. Partner notification is also available so that any partners can also be tested and treated if appropriate – your name or any other details are never shared.
Aside from the sexual health screening on offer, contraception services are also available. From first contraception method, to changes to current contraception choice, all contraception options are discussed as to what best suits you.
As well as the three main clinics, there is also another option open to those under the age of 25. The staff from the Orwell Clinic in Ipswich also run a walk in clinic from the Terrence Higgins Trust office at 3-9 Arcade Street every Thursday between 4pm and 7pm, offering sexual health screening, contraception advice and supply of reversible contraception (coil and implant fitting require an appointment at one of the main clinics), advice and information.
This clinic gets very busy though, and although staff will endeavour to see everyone who attends, it may be necessary to offer a booked appointment for another time.
Unfortunately anyone who arrives at the Terrence Higgins Trust office outside of these times will be asked to contact iCaSH, as we are unable to arrange appointments on their behalf.
No time for an appointment?
You’re in luck! The new iCaSH Express Test is a kit which can be ordered online and is posted out to the address you supply. You then send back your sample when complete. It’s an easy, convenient option for those who don’t have time to attend a clinic appointment, although if a test comes back positive you would need to attend for treatment. Also if there is anything you would like to discuss with someone without judgement, but with the knowledge and experience to help you, then attending a clinic would still be the best option for you.