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STD Testing: Which One Should You Do and What It Involves

Tests for sexually transmitted diseases are important as untreated cases can degenerate into conditions like blindness, infertility, organ damage and cancer.

Each year, the estimated number of STI cases runs into millions. Sadly, many persons receive treatment late. The tricky part of STIs is that most of them don’t come with symptoms; identifying them becomes problematic. Many people are not encouraged to get screened because of the stigma associated with being diagnosed with an infection. However, the best way to be sure you’re not infected is via testing. Speak with your doctor to know if you need an STI screening.

Which type of STI should I be screened for?

Your doctor will tell you what STI you should test for since there are so many of them. So consult your medical care provider. You may be recommended to get screened for one or a number of the following:

  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Hepatitis B

Unless you request a herpes test or think you’ve been exposed, the doctor won’t likely perform a test for herpes.

Request for STI testing

Thinking that your doctor will perform all the STI tests on you may be wrong. It isn’t a regular practice for most physicians to test patients for all STIs during an annual sexual or physical screening. So, asking your doctor what STI test they need to do and the reason is essential. Ask for testing!

Speak up about any sexual health concerns you have. Talk about your symptoms honestly to get the best care possible.

Pregnancy is also a time to get screened for ST – the baby may get infected. During your first prenatal visit, let your doctor test for STI.

Where you have been forced into risky sexual activities like rape, abuse, etc., get a private STI testing at Sexual Health Clinic and seek support from professional healthcare providers.

Talk about your risk factors

This is important. Are you having anal sex? Tell your doctor – STIs can affect the anus. With standard STI tests like an anal Pap smear, precancerous or cancerous cells associated with HPV can be identified.

Discuss with your doctor:

  • Your protection for vaginal, anal and oral sex
  • The medications you’re taking
  • Known and unknown exposures to STIs
  • About other partners you or your partner have

Where can I get STI testing?

At your doctor’s office or a sexual health clinic, you may get STI testing. The choice is yours.

Several STIs are notifiable diseases – the doctor is bound by law to report positive cases to the government. This information is passed onto public health initiatives.

The following are notifiable STIs:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • HIV
  • Chancroid
  • Hepatitis

Also available for STI testing are at-home test kits and online testing methods, but they lack reliability. The FDA should approve any test you order. Be sure to confirm.

What happens in STI testing?

A study of your sexual history will inform your doctor on what STI test you need. They may order several tests, including urine tests, physical examination, swab or blood tests.

Samples of blood or urine are only required for most STI testing, including:

  • Herpes
  • Chlamydia
  • Hepatitis
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • HIV

There are cases where accurate results may not come from urine and blood tests. After exposure to some STIs, one month or more may pass before a blood test gives an accurate result. In the case of HIV, several weeks to months may pass before tests identify the disease.

Other testing methods in detail are:

  • Swabs: Here, the doctor will take urethral, vaginal or cervical swabs to test for STIs. For females, vaginal and cervical swabs are essential to carry out the pelvic exam. For both males and females, healthcare professional take urethral swabs. Rectal swabs are important for those having anal sex.
  • Pap smears and HPV testing: Know that Pap smears don’t check for STIs; they rather detect early signs of anal or cervical cancer. A recurring HPV infection in women, such as HPV-16 and HPV-18, increases the risk of cervical cancer. Those having anal sex can develop anal cancer from HPV infections.

A separate HPV test will check for HPV. For more on Pap smear and HPV testing, consult your doctor.

  • Physical exam: By combining it with physical exams and other tests, identification of certain STIs like genital warts and herpes becomes easy. Physical exams also expose bumps, sores, and other STI symptoms. You must discuss the changes in your genitals, around the anus and rectum with your doctor.

Get a test today

It’s common to have STIs, and several tests are available. Consult your doctor for more information. You can get private STI testing at Sexual Health Clinic in London.

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