Follow-up care is very important. Some of the results from tests done when you were first treated will not be available until a later date. Some tests need to be performed more than once or need to be performed after a period of time has elapsed since the assault. You may be contacted by Public Health or your primary care practitioner about test results.
You are strongly encouraged to obtain counselling for the emotional effects of sexual assault, even if you feel that you are coping well and have a strong network of support. You may be able to receive some funding from Victims Compensation to cover these expenses.
Many sexually transmitted infections take several weeks to develop symptoms. If you have unusual discharge, odours, irritations, itching, blisters or sores or if you experience fever or pain you should seek medical attention immediately. It is very important to have follow-up testing done for many sexually transmitted infections.
For the next six months you will require ongoing medical supervision. It is very important to get tested for sexually transmitted infections if you have been sexually assaulted. Sexually transmitted infections are caused by germs. The germs are carried by one person and can be passed on to another person through sexual contact. Different types of sexual contact can transfer infections. These infections can be transferred by oral (mouth), by vaginal or by anal (bum) sex. Infections can also be spread through skin-to-skin contact.
The following information lists some sexually transmitted infections that a person can be tested for.
Chlamydia is a germ that can be spread through contact with sexual fluids from another person. It can infect the throat, vagina, womb and anus (bum). A sample is taken from any of these places to test for Chlamydia. A urine (pee) test can also be done.
Most people do not have any symptoms. They will not know if they have the infection. Symptoms may happen from 2 to 6 weeks after contact. Symptoms can be discharge from your vagina, pain when you pee, pain in your lower stomach, bleeding from your vagina after you have sex or pain between menstrual periods and pain while you are having sex. There is medicine that will cure Chlamydia. You can take the medicine at the same time that you have the test done.
Gonorrhea is a germ that can be spread the same way as Chlamydia. It also infects the same places in the body. Testing is done in the same way as for Chlamydia.
Many people do not have symptoms if they have Gonorrhea. Some people may have pain or burning while peeing or an increase in discharge. Symptoms may show in 2 to 7 days. Gonorrhea can be cured with medicine taken at the same time the test is done.
Syphilis is a germ that can be passed on through oral (mouth to genitals), vaginal or anal (bum) sex. The first sign that you may have Syphilis can be a painless sore that will be in the same area where the sexual contact took place. The sore may not appear for up to 90 days. Some people may develop a rash.
A blood test is the best way to test for Syphilis. This test may need to be done again in 4 to 6 weeks. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics.
Genital Herpes is an infection that is spread through direct vaginal, oral (by mouth) or anal (by bum) sexual contact with a person who has Genital Herpes.
Not all people who have Genital Herpes will have symptoms. Symptoms may appear 2 to 21 days after becoming infected; usually after 6 days. When a person gets Genital Herpes, they may have painful sores, fever, muscle pain and pain when they pee.
The first time you get Genital Herpes it may last about 23 days. To test for Herpes the nurse will take a swab from the sores. Blood may be taken also.
Herpes can be controlled with medication but there is no cure. Do not apply any cream to the sores. Keep all the sores clean and dry. Many people will have the outbreaks again.
HPV, or genital warts, is a virus that is spread through direct sexual contact, including skin-to-skin contact of genitals. Many people who have HPV do not have symptoms and do not get warts. Some people may get warts within 1 to 8 months. The warts can be small, soft flesh-colored growths. They can have a cauliflower-like appearance. The size and number of warts can change over time. Sometimes they will go away on their own. If they do not go away, a doctor can treat them. A pap test is an important test to find out if you have HPV. It should be done once each year unless a doctor tells you something different.
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that is spread through sexual contact (by mouth, anus/bum or vagina) with a person who has Hepatitis B. You can also get Hepatitis B through non-sexual contact. Many people do not show signs or symptoms if they get Hepatitis B. Within 8 weeks after you are in contact with the virus a person may have flu-like symptoms like tiredness, nausea and vomiting, rash, joint pain, yellowing of the eyes and skin. Testing is done by a blood test.
There is no cure for Hepatitis B, but a vaccine to prevent the infection is available. After a sexual assault an injection of antibodies may be given up to 14 days later followed by the Hepatitis B vaccine to help prevent infection. Most people get over Hepatitis B within 6 months.
Hepatitis C is a virus that can cause an infection of the liver. Often people do not become sick until many years later. Hepatitis C is spread mainly through blood. The risk of getting Hepatitis C through sexual contact is low. Testing is done by a blood test. There is effective treatment for Hepatitis C.
HIV is a virus that is transmitted when the body fluids of an infected person (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk) enter the blood stream of another person. This can occur through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex.
The risk of developing an HIV infection from a sexual assault is usually low, but should not be ignored. The risk is increased if the person who assaulted you uses injection drugs or if there are open sores or injuries. Medications to prevent infection should be started as soon as possible after the assault. The sooner the treatment is started, the greater the effectiveness of the treatment. Treatment is recommended for up to 72 hours after contact with blood or body fluids.
Pregnancy can happen when a woman is sexually assaulted. Medicine (“the morning after pill”) can help stop a pregnancy from happening. This medicine should be taken as soon as possible after the assault. It should be taken within 24 hours (1 day), however it can be taken within 72 hours or up to 120 hours after the assault, depending on the type of medication used. You can get this type of medication from your doctor, from Planned Parenthood or from a drug store pharmacist. A pregnancy test can be done by a nurse or doctor and may need to be done more than once.