Follow-up medical care following a sexual assault
You have just been seen by the doctor at Mallee Sexual Assault Unit about a sexual assault:
- Your physical symptoms and any injuries possibly arising from this sexual assault have been recorded. This record will be used if you are making a complaint to police. The doctor who examined you has told you about any injuries found and has arranged any treatment necessary. Services at the Mallee Sexual Assault Unit include free confidential counselling, support and advocacy.
- You may be concerned about pregnancy. This can be discussed with the doctor at the initial consultation or with a counsellor at Mallee Sexual Assault Unit.
- If you are on the pill continue taking your usual oral contraceptive pills that tell the doctor if you miss any.
- If you’re not on the pill morning after pills to prevent pregnancy may be requested and must be taken within 72 hours of the sexual assault. A pregnancy test is recommended ten days or more after the assault to confirm that you are not pregnant.
- If you suspect pregnancy has resulted from a sexual assault you should discuss your concerns with a doctor promptly so that the options available to you can be explained. You can then consider what you want to do, and you can be assisted with implementing your choice.
- The risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases including HIV are not high, but it is important to exclude the possibility.
- During the initial examination, tests are usually done to check for sexually transmitted infections. These tests may show an infection resulting from a recent sexual assault and treatment can be started. However some sexually transmitted diseases cannot be excluded until further tests are done.
- At about two weeks after the assault it is important to check for Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia infections. These are seldom present, but can exist without people noticing symptoms or signs. Untreated they can sometimes cause serious problems with illness and infertility. Therefore it is important to have these tests performed, to be reassured that all is well. This is available through your doctor.
- Many people worry about HIV/AIDS infection. We can do a blood test for this and some other sexually transmitted diseases Hepatitis B. and Syphilis. Blood taken at the initial examination can only show that there was no pre-existing disease. We recommend having the test for these infections about three months after the sexual assault, by which time the blood should identify if any of these diseases which may have resulted from the assault.
- Tests for other forms of genital infections can also be carried out and medical follow-up with your doctor.
- All results of tests taken at the Mallee Sexual Assault Unit can be obtained through the attending forensic physician.
Physical concerns after rape
After sexual assault people may experience a variety of symptoms which are related to the rape and/or to the distress which they are feeling, such as:
- Various aches and pains
- Eating problems, nausea
- Painful urination and/or bowel actions
- Sleeping difficulties
- Problems with concentration or doing every day activities
- Feeling out of control, being unable to relax
- Feeling sad, crying a lot
Whilst such symptoms are often normal reactions to a traumatic experience they can be upsetting and cause anxiety.
It is advisable to have a follow-up appointment with your G. P. Staff at the Mallee Sexual Assault Unit will help you with follow-up care and support.