What Is STD Testing?

STD testing is essential for anybody who is sexually active, especially those who have multiple partners. Oral contraceptives and other kinds of contraceptive can stop pregnancy. However, they don’t protect from STDs. If you’re not using condoms, you could be at risk. Even if you haven’t had full sex with a person, there’s a chance an STD has been passed on. There are a number of different tests, depending on what your symptoms or risk factors are. In some cases, you might not even get signs or symptoms. It’s possible to have an STD without being aware of it. Having an STD for a long time without getting it treated can lead to many other problems. Sexually transmitted diseases are more common than many people think. Let’s take a deeper look at STD testing, what it entails, and who should be tested.

More About STD Testing

In the US, more than 19 million new STDs occur every year. Half of all sexually active individuals will get an STD in their lifetimes. If these STDs aren’t seen to in a timely manner, they can cause all kinds of serious problems. Just some of these problems include:

  • Organ damage.
  • Blindness.
  • Cancer.
  • Infertility.

The only way to know for sure whether you have an STD is to get tested. Unfortunately, many people don’t see to their STDs fast enough. This is usually down to the stigma attached to them, or not knowing that they have one. Making your sexual health a priority is a must.

At a regular check up, you shouldn’t assume that you’re being tested for every STD. You must usually ask for testing, and inquire which tests are being done. You need to remember that doctors can’t help you without you being open with them. Taking care of your sexual health is crucial, so don’t be shy about anything you think you may have been exposed to. Being as honest as possible will help you to get the right treatment.

Home STD Testing

If you’d rather test yourself at home, then you must make sure they are FDA approved and your tests are sent to a reputable lab afterwards. If you don’t, these tests are not reliable. Some tests will give a high number of false positive results. If you test positive from a home test, it’s a good idea to contact a doctor or healthcare provider to confirm that you have the STD. If your test comes back negative but you do have symptoms, it could still be a good idea to see a doctor. Although home testing can save embarrassment, it’s more accurate to get tested with your doctor or at a clinic. This will save you time and ensure you are treated as fast as possible. Remember, they’ve seen it all before and nobody is judging you.

Where To Get Tested

If you want to get tested by a professional, there are a number of places you can go. You can go to your local Planned Parenthood, a clinic, or private health care provider.

What You Can Be Tested For

There are many different STDs that you can be tested for. Discussing your sexual history with your doctor should give you an idea of what testing to have. Here are some of the STDs:

  • Syphilis.
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Chlamydia.
  • Gonorrhea.

You will usually need to ask to be tested for herpes as doctors don’t usually test for it. Your doctor will only know what to test you for if you are honest about your risk factors. Risk factors include:

  • You and your partner having other sexual partners.
  • Known exposure to STDs, or suspected exposures.
  • Medication you are taking.
  • Types of protection used during different kinds of sexual activity.

This can be difficult to talk about, but your health should take priority. If you’d rather, you can usually take a friend or partner with you for support.

Questions You May Be Asked At A Screening

As knowing as much as possible about your health and sexual history is important before testing, you’ll be asked a number of questions. These may include:

  • When your last period was if you’re a woman.
  • Whether you’ve used over the counter medicine to treat symptoms.
  • Whether you’ve had STDs before.
  • How many sexual partners you have and what protection you use.

Being honest with your healthcare provider is crucial to getting the right testing and treatment. It can be tempting to lie out of fear that they’ll judge you, but you are only hurting yourself if you do.

Potential Symptoms Of STDs

There are a number of symptoms that may point to you having an STD. These include sores on the genital area, discharge, itching, and burning. You may also notice a strange smell. You must bear in mind though, that you won’t always get a symptom. Many people continue as normal not knowing that they have an STD. This is why it’s so important to get tested if you’ve ever had unprotected sex, no matter how long ago it was.

How You Are Tested

The way you are tested will vary depending on what you are suspected to have or being tested for. Some worry that it will be painful or uncomfortable, but you can detect many STDs using blood and urine samples. Just be aware that these may not be reliable in detecting some STDs. You may need to have had the infection for more than a month before it shows up in your blood test. In some cases, it may be better if you are examined by your doctor. They’ll look for telltale signs, but you should also let them know if you’ve noticed any changes around your genitals yourself. Swabs can also be used to detect STDs. You may have your genitals swabbed, or the inside of your mouth to test saliva. It depends, but your doctor may let you swab yourself depending on the circumstances.

Some people think they are automatically tested if they are having a Pap or are getting tested for other reasons. This isn’t the case. You must ask to be tested for STDs and give as much information as possible. If you’re unsure, make sure you ask exactly what you’re being tested for. Don’t be afraid to request a form of test if you think you need it.

When Should You Be Tested?

There are a few different circumstances that you should consider being tested in. For instance, if you’re about to start a new relationship it’s a good idea to get tested first. If your partner has cheated on you, or you’re thinking of not using condoms anymore, you should be tested. If you have symptoms or multiple partners, they are also reasons to be tested.

The only time you may not need regular testing, is if you’re in a faithful, long term relationship and you were both tested for STDs beforehand. If you weren’t tested beforehand, there’s always the possibility you have had an undiagnosed STD for a while. It’s more common to find this than you think.

Getting Your Results

If you test positive for an STD, you need to take the treatment as recommended by your healthcare provider. You may need to take an antibiotic medicine. If your STD is serious, in some cases there’s no cure and you’ll simply need to learn to manage the symptoms. It’s also your responsibility to tell your sexual partners that you have an STD. You can pass infections on easily, so making sure they are tested and treated is important. If you don’t, they could develop serious health problems. You can also get a nurse to tell partners for you, and your name will not be used.

It’s normal to feel very emotional after finding out you have an STD. You may feel upset, angry, or ashamed of yourself. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. Simply learn from your mistakes, and be glad you did the right thing by getting tested. You can speak to your doctor or nurse about any other concerns you may have. They can refer you to outside services if you want more support.

After testing positive and taking the treatment, you may need to be tested again to be sure you are clear of the STD. This may happen in chlamydia cases, for instance. You will need to finish the course of treatment, and make sure your partners have done so, before you engage in sexual activity again. If you do engage in sexual activity with a partner before treatment is finished, there’s a chance the STD will stay in your body. This can cause problems later on down the line. You will need to go to your healthcare provider again to discuss this. Remember, your results and information will always be stored in a secure database.

Taking care of your sexual health has never been more important than it is now. With the high number of new infections spreading every year, taking care of yourself should be your priority.