Do you know what the most dangerous thing about most STDs is? It’s that you could have one for years and not even realize it. Many STDs are asymptomatic until they are quite far advanced and, by the time you start seeing symptoms, permanent damage may have been done.
When to Get Tested By not getting tested regularly, you are putting your health, fertility and even life at risk. If you are sexually active, and not in a committed relationship, making STD testing a part of your annual checkup is a really good idea. And, don’t wait for your doctor to ask you about them – not all doctors will. Aside from regular testing, you may need to get tested if you have had unsafe sex, have changed partners, or been in a relationship with more than one partner. If you feel that you may have contracted an STD, speak to your doctor or health care provider about getting tested. It is often the only way to know for sure whether or not you have an STD and, if you do, what type of STD you have. Generally speaking, if you are between the ages of 13 to 64, and sexually active, you should get tested for STDs.
How Soon After Exposure Will I Know for Sure? Depending on the type of STD, it may take some time for test results to show up positive. Speak to your health care practitioner about your concerns and get their recommendations. When it comes to HIV, for example, you should test at two to four weeks, at three months and then again at six months to be absolutely sure that you haven’t contracted the disease.
Who Can Do the Tests? Check with your regular family physician or go to your nearest family planning clinic. They will normally also be able to help you with testing.
What Can I Expect During Testing? What to expect during testing will depend on the STD being tested for. Some tests require that a blood sample be taken, some require a swab to be used and others require a urine sample from you. Here is what you can expect during each test. Chlamydia: You will need to give a urine sample or have the genital area swabbed. If you have also engaged in anal or oral sex, they will need to take a swab of your anus or mouth as well. Chlamydia may not show up in the urine or vagina but might be present in the anus or mouth. Gonorrhea: You will either need to give a urine sample or have the genital area swabbed. As with Chlamydia, if you have engaged in anal or oral sex, your anus and mouth will need to be swabbed as well. HIV: You will normally have a blood test done or have the inside of your mouth swabbed. Many clinics will advise you to go for counselling beforehand so that you can be emotionally prepared if the test comes out positive. The clinic may also allow you to be tested anonymously, if you prefer. Test results are completely confidential. Genital Herpes (Asymptomatic): You will need to give a blood sample, especially in the absence of any symptoms. It is important to request a IgG test – specify that you want the IgG test in particular. Genital Herpes (If You Have Got Sores): The initial test is done by taking a swab of the sore itself. However, even if this test shows negative, you should still have a blood test done to confirm the negative result as well. The swab test is only really accurate in the first 48 hours of the sore forming. The blood test is the best way to confirm that you really do not have genital herpes. Syphilis: This involves either a blood test or a swab test of a sore, if you have them. According to the CDC, a pregnant woman should have a blood test for syphilis regardless of whether or not she feels she that she has been exposed to it. Infection can easily be carried over to the fetus and this can result in a miscarriage, a still birth or neurological problems. Trichomoniasis: A swab will need to be taken either of the genitals or the discharge. Trichomoniasis is easier to detect in women because they will notice changes in vaginal secretions. Men might not have any discharge at all. Genital Warts/ HPV: This is usual done through visual diagnoses. So, the practitioner will have to examine the warts to see. Swab tests of the cervix can detect abnormal cells that indicate the presence of cervical cancer. If abnormal cells are detected, you will need to go in for a biopsy.
Why Std Testing is So Important It may be scary to think that you have an STD. There is still a very real stigma attached to having one. And, you may have to inform your previous sexual partner about testing positive. Put simply, it sucks to find out that you have an STD. But, it may be even worse being blissfully ignorant. Some STDs, like chlamydia can be treated quite easily. However, if left unchecked, you run the risk of complications in terms of fertility. Falling pregnant may be difficult at a later stage and the chances of having an ectopic pregnancy increase. And all that could be avoided simply by taking some simple medication. Of course, not all STDs can be cured. HIV is one of these and wondering whether or not you might have it is bound to be frightening. Knowledge is your best defense here. HIV is not a death sentence and you can still lead a full life if you have the disease. Knowing your status will enable you to get medical advice on how to manage things. You should also consider your future sexual partners. Knowing your status when it comes to STDs allows you to take steps to protect them as well and prevent infecting them by accident. All in all, getting tested for STDs is quick and simple – considering the small amount of time and effort, it is one of the best investments that you can make for your future health.