A GLOWING red raw penis, balls with bite marks and a public hair lawn mower tattoo are just some of the things nurse Nicola Coventry has seen over the past few weeks at YorSexual Health clinic in York.

She's one of 30 nurses who works at the STI clinic, which sees 20,000 patients a year.

Following reports that Brits are at risk of catching super-bug strains of gonorrhoea which are resistant to antibiotics - and that diagnoses of syphilis are at their highest level for nearly 70 years - we're spending the day here to see what the biggest sexual health issues are, and to see what goes on behind closed doors in a day at an STI clinic.

A red raw penis and a couple wearing each other's pants
Today’s team of four nurses, two doctors and three healthcare assistant faces a busy afternoon.

There will be diagnoses of gonorrhoea and syphilis, herpes and warts, chlamydia and HIV for some of the 62 patients to walk through the door.

Treatments – often antibiotics - will be dispensed; blood, urine and vaginal swab samples taken, follow-up appointments made.

"We see all sorts here," Nicola tells Sun Online. " A guy came in a few weeks ago and his penis was red raw having lost several layers of skin.

"It turned out he'd used hibiscus scrub - an antiseptic prescribed for his dog after surgery - to clean his penis.

"Another couple asked to be seen together in clinic and during the examination the nurse was mortified to see they were wearing each other's underwear.

"We see a lot of funny tattoos and intimate piercings too. One girl had a lawnmower with "cut here" tattooed on her bikini line.

"One of the weirdest cases I've seen was a guy that had scabs all over his genitals which he told me were 'bite marks'."

The man whose mum helped him clean his 'gooch'
"We get some strange queries submitted through our website too," Nicola says. "The other week a man told us he was worried about the size of his erect penis, saying it "got swollen" when his mum was helping him clean his "gooch" - the stretch between his penis and anus - in the bath.

"Another guy said he got a genital wart from trying on a condom for the first time, while someone else told us they were a sex addict and went on to describe a series of casual sex events in detail."

But while some of these situations may seem almost laughable, the clinic sees a much darker side too.

'Has my cheating husband given me an STI?'
A walk-in sexual health clinic is the last place Tina* ever expected to find herself on a Wednesday afternoon – and she’s highly anxious about it.

The 32-year-old office assistant, who has two children aged four and seven, is here for a full check-up after her husband of ten years admitted he’d been having unprotected sex with another woman for six months.

“I’m sad and disappointed and furious with him because I’m having to come and get tested to make sure I haven’t caught anything nasty from him or her,” says Tina, who has no symptoms of infection."

“I’ve been Googling sexual infections and I’m terrified,” she says. “I’m here for peace of mind, so I can stop fretting and move on with my life.”

'A pale yellow discharge is coming from my penis'
Phil* is sitting in the waiting room with two friends, clearly agitated.

He’s 22, skinny, and visibly relieved when nurse sister Nicola Coventry calls him into the consulting room.

“I got drunk and had unprotected sex with a close friend four days ago, then two days ago I started getting a cloudy, pale yellow discharge from my penis,” he explains.

Phil says: “I thought it was nothing but I’ve done some Googling and I got scared it might be an STI. It’s painful when I wee too.”

Nicola takes down details of Phil’s medical and sexual health history, then examines his penis and takes a swab which confirms signs of pus cells and inflammation which may be an infection.

“At this stage we don’t know what the infection is, so we need to take a urine sample for testing and we’ll let you know what’s going on,” Nicola advises Phil.

She gives him a week’s course of antibiotics and some free condoms, and lets him know, as he leaves, that he’ll receive a text advising next steps in about a week.

Phil is one of 62 people who pass through the four-hour YorSexual Health clinic in York this afternoon.

The clinic mainly attracts women, with only 30 per cent of their attendees being men.

Today there are young women with friends and mums for moral support, young men with a mate or two in tow, middle-aged men and women.

They sit in the waiting room, hushed, scrolling through their phones, generally avoiding eye contact.

Doctors, nurses and health care assistants work briskly, rushing from room to room, consulting, advising and testing.

By 3pm there are 12 people in the waiting room. Two women tell me they’re just here for routine contraception appointments (one of them says: “I’ve got five kids – I can’t be doing with any more!”)

Fake names for cheaters and swingers
“The interesting thing about sexual health is how differently people react,” Nicola tells us.

“Someone getting a positive chlamydia result might be totally fine and just want treatment, while other people are devastated.

“Some people are doing risky things, maybe swinging and having unprotected sex with multiple partners yet they’re not anxious, while some people are doing nothing risky but remain very worried.”

Nicola, who sees 10 patients in the course of this afternoon’s clinic, says the most difficult part of her job is wanting to do everything for everybody.

“But you can’t fix everything. You might get a young person in who’s been assaulted or who’s at risk of being groomed and hear the most dreadful stories about what’s happening to her, but there’s a limit to what we can do.”

Nicola says: “We see a lot of students in new relationships who want to test before they have sex or want to stop using condoms. It’s becoming much more common that people just want reassurance that they have no infections.

Sometimes people are so anxious for reassurance that they visit the clinic regularly. Patients have to give a name when they attend the clinic, though it may not be their real name. One woman who’d had an affair turned up for regular testing at the clinic using different names, all of them the names of trees - Mrs Oak one month, then Mrs Beech, then Mrs Ash.

Her colleague Dr Michael Ewens is in the middle of a 12-hour working day at the clinic.

Among the professional challenges he faces is the fact that STIs are becoming harder to treat because of antimicrobial resistance.

Funding cuts also cast a shadow over the future for sexual health specialists like Michael.

“We feel vulnerable that there may not be jobs for sexual health doctors in the future but people aren’t going to stop having sex any time soon,” he says.

Local authority funding for sexual health services is at an all-time low, cut by £64 million in the four years to 2017.

And at the same time as Public Health England is warning of a growing syphilis and gonorrhea crisis, there is reduced access to care in many areas of the country.

Sexual health experts have warned that services nationally are at “tipping point” due to budget cuts, with the number of 18- to 24-year-olds being tested for chlamydia, the most common disease, falling by close to half a million in the last five years.

Meanwhile, for those on the front line in clinics like the one in York, it’s simply a matter of getting on with the job.