Expat Advice

Getting Tested in Paris

Let’s be honest here, a lot of expats who have been living here for a while have probably wondered about getting tested at some point. I know, I know, getting tested for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) in beautiful Paree isn’t exactly the most romantic thing ever but it’s what responsible adults do.

The problem is, it’s very difficult to get information in English about getting tested in Paris. Websites about STD testing don’t have an English alternative and most aren’t even that clear in French. As a result, your first experience can be quite daunting because on top of being in a foreign country, you don’t really know what’s going to happen when you get there! But what you do need to know is, STDs are NOT a taboo here in France so don’t be scared that you’ll be the only one there. The French understand how important it is to practice safe sex and do NOT judge each other for getting tested. On the contrary, they have the utmost respect for people who take control of their sexual health!

So, on that note, this blog post is to explain a little bit about how it works and more importantly, why you shouldn’t be afraid to get tested here, French or no French.

I want to get tested but where do I start?

First things first, you need to choose where you want to go. There are a number of centre de dépistage and they are all anonymous. They are also all TOTALLY FREE OF CHARGE and no carte vitale is needed. I would recommend using a Red Cross centre as they have one located right in the middle of Paris (metro: Palais Royale Musee du Louvre) and most of the people working there speak English. Not being able to speak French is NOT a problem. If you don’t speak French, they can, and will, happily ask you the questions in English.

After choosing your centre you can either call them to make an appointment (they will only ask you for your surname) or you can decide to go sans RDV (without an appointment). However, sans RDV is only available on Wednesday’s between 3 pm and 6pm.

If you decide to book an appointment you will be seen very quickly, therefore I would definitely recommend booking before. Also, you generally have to book around two weeks in advance so be prepared for a small wait!

What happens when I get there?

When you arrive at the centre you have to go to reception and give your last name and time of your appointment. In return they will give you a card with a number on; congratulations, this is now your new identity! Everything from this point on is anonymous. You will be asked to take a seat until the nurse calls your number out.

The nurse is the first person you see. He or she will ask you questions about your sexual health. Why did you choose to come and get tested, what are you concerned about, have you ever had an STD before, are you taking any medication etc. These questions are normal, they just need to build up a general picture of your sexual health, it’s nothing to be concerned about! It’s also so they can recommend what tests you should take.

When do I see the doctor?

After you have seen the nurse and answered their quick questionnaire, you will be sent back into the waiting room. The doctor will be the next person to call your number and you will follow them into their office. The doctors are very friendly and extremely professional so don’t worry about having to see them! The doctor is simply there to explain to you which tests you are going to have done and how it is going to work, so there aren’t any unwelcome surprises along the way.

The Red Cross centres offer testing for ALL STDs so you will be able to have a full check up if that’s what you want. For your information – chlamydia is only offered automatically to women and men under the age of 25 so if you are over 25 you will have to ask the doctor for the test when you talk to him or her.

What happens during the tests?

After your short chat with the doctor you will go back to see a nurse for your blood test. If you have decided to be tested for non-blood related diseases (e.g. chlamydia) you will have to do a swab test (for women) or a urine test (for men). Funnily enough for women, you do the test yourself, whereas in England it’s the doctor who does it. Actually, for women, it’s much less unnerving when you know that you will simply do it yourself rather than someone poking and prodding you! After your swab test you give the tube (nicely concealed in an envelope) to the smiley receptionist who will then ask you when you are available to come back for the test results.

Test results take one week minimum and you MUST go back to the centre and see the doctor to receive them, whether the results are positive or negative. Your results will be given to you in the same way; the doctor will call out your number and open your results in front of you in their office. They will then explain the results in detail and ask you if you have any questions. Feel free to ask them whatever you want, they are there to help!

And that’s it! The scary oh-my-god-I-won’t-understand getting STD tested in a foreign country is over! And it really wasn’t that bad after all, was it?

Thanks to all my readers for taking the time to read my blog, if you do have any further medical related questions, please do not hesitate to send me an email at mylifelivingabroad@gmail.com

 

54 Comments

  • Sundee

    This is a great post. Very informative and on a topic I googled just because the google never lets me down and viola- there you were.

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Thank you so much Sundee! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and I’m glad my article was useful!

  • Talia

    I was wondering if they will prescribe you antibiotics right there in the office if your test is positive!
    Thank you so much for the information!

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Talia, yes they would as you get your result from a doctor so they would prescribe them. However I imagine that you would have to pay for the prescription unless you have your carte vitale. And you’re welcome! 🙂

      • Talia

        Thank you! One more question I forgot to ask would you revive the antibiotics there or is it more normal to go pick them up at a pharmacy?

        • My Life Living Abroad

          Hi Talia, in France you never get the antibiotics directly from the doctor, you have to go to the pharmacy to get your prescription. Hope that helps!

        • Ashley

          Talia actually you can get the antibiotics from the doctor. If you go to Family PLanNing they give you everything free and right then and there. They gave me 4 months of birth control and a morning after pill just in case. They give out all birth control except the Depo (they dont have it in France). I was dating a guy for a while who gave me chlamydia (wanker) and they not only gave me the antiobiotics but they also gave me the intervenious medication. Apparently normal doctors give you some pill pack you have to take for weeks. But family Planning was like nope, lets hook you up and get this taken care of right Now. They alSo dont ask for Id or anything. Awesome French Social healthcare. You can make the appoinyment for the center in the 13th (Pitie Hospital) online. But their english is poor or sometimes nonexistent. They dont seem to regard learning English at french medical School a necessity.

          • Dasha

            Hi Ashley! Could you please send their website link or address? I have found something, but I am not sure if that was the correct one, so I just wanted to make sure. Also, does this procedure also happen for the minors (I’m 17)?
            Thank you! Have a great day.

  • juju

    Thank you for the information. I tried looking for the red cross center near Palais Royale Musee du Louvre but couldn’t find it. Do you have the address and the phone number by any chance.i found 1 in the 13th and 1 in the 20th arrondissement for centres de PRÉVENTION ET DÉPISTAGE of the red cross.do they also open on the weekends?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi, here are the details. They do not open on weekends, only Monday to Friday! And you need to make an appointment unless you go on Wednesday afternoon for walk in, but then you could be waiting hours
      – 43, rue de Valois, 75001 Paris
      – telephone 01.42.61.30.04.
      – Obligatoirement sur RDV, du lundi au vendredi
      – metro line 1, station Palais Royal, M3, station Bourse

  • juju

    i just called one of the centres and apparently he said in the 13th arrondissement centre of the red cross they don’t have this testing service for STDs.

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Juju, I only know for the one at Palais Royale as that’s where I got tested. I don’t know about the other centres but I know most of them offer it. You can check online on their site for that info!

  • Shant Belian

    I have a question regarding the results. I won’t be stayin in Paris for a week so it possible to get the results sent to my email?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Shant, there is no other way to get your results except going in to see the doctor. They will not tell you over the phone or by mail. Hope that helps!

  • Amy

    Can you go to this clinic for other things besides getting tested for an std? for example if you’re concerned about having a different issue with your private area regarding sexual health, like bacterial vaginosis or thrush etc. Or can they advice somewhere else to go for concerns outside of std? when I was in the UK I went to the sexual health clinic for everything, and they were really great.

  • Megan

    thanks for this! I was looking at the clinic website and i saw it listed as “oligitoirement sur RDv” with no mention of walk-ins. Was this the same when you went or have they changed the policy? The nearest rdv isnt available until weeks from now and i’d rather wait a few hours on the walk in day Rather than having to wait a month to know my resUlts. Again,thanks so much for thiS!

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Megan, I just checked and yes it looks like they have changed their policy. However, you can go to the one in Villeneuve-La-Garenne sans RDV le mercredi de 15h à 18h. Hope that helps!

  • Madeleine

    Thanks for this, very much indeed. I was extremely worried after discovering the guy I was seeing was sleeping around and didn’t have a clue where to start! You’re a life saver. Thanks again! 🙂

  • Romain

    Hi,
    For more Options look for “CDAG” (ceNtre de depistage anonyme et gratuit).
    They might not all speak english but most of them are without appointment (its writTen on the website). EVerything works the same than explained Here though.

  • EmIly

    Great article, thanks so much!! Im also looking for a good, cheap gyno – do you mind sharing the details of yours?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      The test is free in the centre I recommend. I don’t know if they speak English but I’m sure they speak enough just for you to book b appointment.

  • KARISSA

    THIS IS SO VERY HELPFUL THANK YOU! I HAD AN UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCE LAST NIGHT AND NOW DEFINITELY WANT TO GET TESTED BUT SPEAK VERY LITTLE FRENCH AND YOUR ARTICLE ANSWERED ABSOLUTELY ALL THE QUESTIONS I HAD!

  • Sarah

    Really useful article, thank you so much!
    I was just worried about it taking so long to get a rdv. I thought I had a vaginal infection which I was treating myself, but I now think its an std as it has spread down my leg so that walking has become difficult. I really need to see someone urgently but I don’t have any money and no carte Vitale. What would you suggest?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Sarah, apologies for the delayed reply. I would suggest going to a public hospital to see a doctor. It’s the cheapest way. However, if you have no carte vitale it will not be free. Hope that helps!

  • Craig

    Just wanted to add my thanks to the list above. You post(s) have been a lifesaver and have reduced what would have otherwise been a very stressful situation.

  • Candice

    Thank you very much!! I am not in Paris but in another Franch city, and need to do this blood test too recently. But for RDV online in Doctolib, which speciality should I choose? This is an opotion of Planning Family-IVG, but I am just going to have the STD test, should I choose another speciality, like sth related to
    Gynecology?

    • My Life Living Abroad

      Hi Candice, yes it’s probably best that you book an appointment with a gynecologist. They might not be able to do all the tests for you but they will be able to do some and will also give you information on where to get the other tests done. Good luck!

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