I've been lurking here for a while, and thought I should finally post.
I'm a 20 year old guy from London, and for ages I've been worried about going for an STI test. Mainly cause I'd heard stories about how embarrassing and painful it is.
ANYWAY, last week I finally plucked up the courage to go down to the Sexual Health Centre just down the road and get myself checked out.
I thought it might help other nervous guys if I explained what happened during my test - so here goes:
When I arrived at the Centre, the nurse at the desk gave me a form to fill in, with my name and address, and a chart saying whether or not I had any 'symptoms' (I didn't). Then she showed me to the waiting room. There were two waiting rooms, one for men, one for women, and both were behind a sort of screen.
After about 20 minutes, they called my name and I went through to meet the doctor. He was in a normal-looking doctor's room, with a table with an angled back, with a lamp over it, a desk, chair and normal doctor's stuff.
As I sat down in the chair, I told him I was nervous, and he was really good about saying not to worry, it was normal.
Then there were a lot of questions about my sexual history - whether I slept with men or women, when I last had sex, whether it was anal or oral, whether I was active or passive, etc. I've been having sex with guys for about 2 years now, and I've done more or less everything, I reckon, so it was a little bit embarrassing to say to a stranger "Yes, I've been fucked in the arse", but he kept saying it was important to know, and he sees loads of people every day, so there was no need to worry about being honest.
After all that, and typing it all up on the computer, he said, "right, I'm going to need to examine you" and started getting all this stuff out of the drawers in his desk. Trays and three long swabs - like big cotton buds on long sticks, each one in a transparent case. Then he put on rubber gloves. At this point, I was a bit worried again.
First, he said, "just open your mouth, so I can do a throat swab" and he just touched the back of my throat with the first swab.
Then he said, "OK, pull down your trousers and pants and lie up on the table".
So I get my boxers down to just above my knees, and get up on the exam table, and he switched on the little lamp, which was positioned just above my crotch.
To be honest, this was the most awkward part of the exam, 'cause I was lying there for ages with my penis and balls exposed, whilst he arranged his swabs and trays. Finally, he was ready and said, "now, just pull your foreskin back", which I did. He took my penis and checked my bell end, then got the second swab.
RIGHT, now a lot of guys moan about how dreadful this is, and I was really worried it was going to fucking hurt, but in fact it's not too bad at all. He put the swab maybe an inch inside my penis, and held it in there for a second or two. It's uncomfortable, yeah, but I didn't scream or anything! and it was back out. I guess part of the idea of the swab is that there might be a discharge or something, cause he held it up and said, "looks fine", before he put it back in the tube.
Finally - and this was the bit I really wasn't expecting - he said, "OK, now I'll just do a rectal swab. Lie on your side and bring your knees up". So I rolled over, so my bum was facing him, and he got the third swab and quickly went just inside my arse. I barely felt it, and then it was over.
"OK, you can pull your trousers back up now". Great.
Then he said I should go through into the next room to do a urine sample. There was an ordinary toilet with a little window, and a cup. I pissed in the cup and left it on the window, then came back out. Then a really nice nurse came in and took a blood sample. She was obviously used to guys being nervous, cause she was telling jokes! , so it was OK.
Anyway, that was it. She gave me a card with a telephone number on it, which I had to ring a week later. This turned out to be an automated results line, and it went through a list of all the stuff I'd been tested for. Thankfully, everything (HIV, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Chlamydia) was negative.
I really felt like the doctors and nurses were really good at making me relax, and I never felt like I was being "judged".
Overall, I'm really pleased I went, and feel really reassured.
Hope this helps someone else!