Regardless of what one may think, a sexually transmitted disease is quite common, and each of us poses some risks for specific types of STD.
For instance, if you’re sexually active and have several partners, you know already that using protection and get tested is mandatory. The most unpleasant part about the STDs is that one could have a sexually transmitted disease, without even knowing it. Most of the times, there aren’t even any obvious symptoms or signs. This is why many professionals out there choose to use the STIs term (sexually transmitted infections), as you may have an infection without presenting any symptoms.
Your age, your sexual behaviors, and some other risk factors count a lot so scroll down to see when it’s the case for you to get tested.
Without any further ado, here is some info for STD testing for specific sexually transmitted diseases:
Chlamydia and gonorrhea
You should test for them once a year if you find yourself in the following categories:
- You’re a man who has sex with men
- You’re a sexually active woman under 25
- You’re a woman older than 25, but pose a higher risk for STD (you have sex with several partners or with someone new)
- You have HIV
- You’ve been forced to have sex against your will
You can have a urine test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can also be done through a swab from the cervix in women or inside the penis in men. The sample is going to be analyzed. Even if you don’t show any signs or symptoms, you may still carry the disease, so regular screening is important.
Unfortunately, some types of HPV (human papillomavirus) may lead to cervical cancer, whereas other types may lead to genital warts. It’s quite common for sexually active people to get infected with HPV, without developing any symptoms. It takes around two years until the virus vanishes from your body.
At the moment, there is no HPV screening test for men, and the infection is diagnosed in their case by visual inspection. A biopsy of genital warts can be done as well. For women, HPV testing consists of:
- Pap test- this one looks for the abnormal cells in the cervix. Women between 21 and 65 years should have it every three years
- HPV test- women over 30, should have an HPV test every five years, especially if the previous tests weren’t normal. Women between 21 and 30 should only have an HPV test if their Pap test showed some abnormalities.
As HPV has been connected with cancer of vagina, vulva, anus, penis, mouth, and throat, testing for HPV is important. Vaccines may protect women and men alike, but they only cover some types of HPV, and they’re more efficient if they’re administered before the sexual activity begins.
The genital herpes is a viral infection that may be transmitted even if one doesn’t show any symptoms. There is no reliable screening test for herpes at the moment. Your doctor is going to take a culture of blisters, early ulcers or some tissue scraping, sending it to the laboratory for the testing. Keep in mind that a negative test doesn’t eliminate herpes as the main cause of your genital ulcerations.
A blood test could say something about a past herpes infection, but the results aren’t that convincing. Some blood tests reveal the difference between the two main kinds of the herpes virus. Even though it can also lead to genital sores, type 1 is the one that typically leads to cold sores.
Type 2 causes the genital sores most of the time. However, the results aren’t entirely clear as they depend on the sensitivity of the stage of the infection and the test. False-negative and false-positive results should never be ruled out.
Syphilis, hepatitis, and HIV
HIV testing is recommended as a routine part of medical care if you’re between 13 and 64. The younger teens should be tested only if they pose a high risk of an STD. If you’re at high risk of infection, you should get an HIV testing.
Anyone born between 1945 and 1965 should be tested for hepatitis C, and the incidence for the disease is high in this particular age group. The disease doesn’t give any symptoms until later. As for hepatitis A and B, you can always get vaccinated if you haven’t been exposed to the viruses.
Here’s when you should test for syphilis, hepatitis or HIV:
- You use intravenous drugs
- You tested positive for a different STI, which places you in the higher risk of other STIs
- You are a man who has sex with men
- You have had more than one sexual partner since you last tested
- You’re planning to get pregnant, or you’re pregnant already
- You’ve been forced to engage in sexual activity or even had intercourse against your will
To test you for syphilis, your doctor is going to take a blood sample or a swab from the genital sores (assuming you have them). The sample is going to get to the laboratory for testing. Hepatitis and HIV test also require blood samples.
Is the at-home STD testing a good idea?
For home STD testing, you’re going to have to collect a urine sample, an oral or a genital swab, sending it to the laboratory for the analysis.
You’re going to need to send more than just one sample for some tests. The best part about this type of testing is that you can do it from the comfort and privacy of your home, with no need for an office visit or pelvic exam.
Remember that at-home STD testing presents a higher risk for false-positive results, which means that the tests show you have an STD, without really having it. If you tested positive, you should go to your doctor or public health clinic for a confirmation of the results. On the other hand, if you test negative, but do present the symptoms, get in touch with your doctor for confirmation and prescription.
What to do if you tested positive?
If you tested positive for an STD, you should continue with further testing. You’re going to need to get treatment recommended by your doctor.
It’s also moral and mandatory to inform your sex partners about the positive results. They’re also going to need to get an examination and get treated if their results come back positive. You don’t want to pass the infections back and forth.
When you test positive, chances are you’re going to feel frightened, ashamed or furious. Take the good part of it; it also shows that you’re a responsible person and you should always inform your partners so that they can get treated as well.
Even though they don’t pose a risk for your life (most of them anyway), the STDs are unpleasant and quite often difficult to detect. As long as you care about you and your health, you shouldn’t postpone the testing.