Facts about STI testing

November 9, 2017, University of Colorado at Boulder

When we talk about sexual health, many of us get a little uncomfortable. But why? We aren't afraid to talk about getting the flu virus or strep throat. Still, there seems to be a taboo when it comes to talking about, and getting tested for, infections below the belt. We want to change that.

Sexually transmitted infections

The most common of a (STI) of any kind is actually no symptom. That's why it's so important to get tested regularly, even when nothing feels off.

Bacterial STIs

The three most common STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Since they are all bacterial, in most cases they can be cured with antibiotics, and catching them early can prevent complications.

One important thing to remember: If prescribed antibiotics for any of these, it's important to complete the entire course of antibiotics. This prevents antibiotic resistance and ensures all partners are healthy and stay that way.

Viral STIs

STIs that are viral, such as herpes, (HPV) and HIV, are treatable but not truly curable.

Herpes and HPV are both very common. If you've ever had a cold sore or a wart, respectively, you've had a strain of these viruses. Most of the time we aren't even aware we have these viruses because the symptoms tend to be intermittent or minor, and, again, many people don't experience any symptoms at all. Some do have complications, however, and if left untreated, these viruses can cause some long-term health concerns.

Like herpes and HPV, HIV can stay asymptomatic for long periods of time, so it's possible to spread the before you know anything is wrong. Newer treatments for HIV have had major success, but the virus can still lead to health concerns.

Getting tested

It's normal to feel a little apprehensive about getting tested. It helps to know exactly what to expect. At Wardenburg, a appointment can involve talking to your about your sexual activity and understanding your risks.

You can even skip this appointment and go straight to the lab in Wardenburg for walk-in testing. The testing process, depending on the STI, usually involves taking quick samples or swabs. Then you're on your way in no time!

Since STIs happen regardless of how we feel about them, it's better to know and find out as soon as possible. Testing results are usually available within a couple of days, which means no sweating it out.

Since many STIs are curable, and all are treatable, your provider will work up a plan to keep you healthy if any tests do come back positive. If you did walk-in testing at the lab without talking to a provider first and test positive, someone from Wardenburg will reach out to set up treatment and an appointment if needed.

When to get tested

It's a good idea to get tested every six months, or with each new partner, especially for asymptomatic infections.

Additionally, if you've ever had symptoms of an STI (like sores in the genital area, abnormal discharge, itchiness, burning or painful urination), it's time to get tested. You may also want to get tested if you or your partners have ever used injectable drugs not prescribed by a doctor or shared needles, as these can impact risk levels for STIs.

If you're unsure about your status or whether you should get tested, talk to your healthcare provider to determine what tests might be right for you and how you and your partners can protect yourselves in the future.

Explore further: Conversations between lovers about STIs are important in theory but difficult in bed

Related Stories

Conversations between lovers about STIs are important in theory but difficult in bed

November 6, 2013
Having sex can be fun; and talking about sex can be fun. Talking about sexually transmitted infections with a sexual interest, however, is a totally different matter, according to new research from Indiana University's Center ...

High risk sex behaviors impact women's health

November 6, 2017
High-risk sexual behavior like sex work may be biologically linked to an increased risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), new research at McMaster University ...

Certain vaginal bacteria may be linked with increased risk of chlamydia

September 25, 2017
The presence of specific types of vaginal bacteria may be associated with an increased risk for chlamydia infection, finds a small, but well powered study published online in Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Researcher explores the barriers stopping men seeking information on sexually transmitted infections

December 15, 2016
A researcher at Birmingham City University is undertaking research into the social and cognitive barriers hindering men who have sex with other men (MSM) from finding out more information about sexually transmitted infections ...

STD treatment for two? Study shows patient value, cost savings

June 2, 2017
In some states, patients who test positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea leave the clinic with not only a prescription for themselves, but also one for their sexual partner—who was not seen by a doctor.

How to make your next sexual health check less awkward

April 10, 2017
Many people find the idea of a sexual health check awkward or embarrassing. After all, it's not every day someone you barely know asks you intimate details about your sex life or asks to examine your genitals.

Recommended for you

Lung-on-a-chip simulates pulmonary fibrosis

May 25, 2018
Developing new medicines to treat pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most common and serious forms of lung disease, is not easy.

Reconstructing Zika's spread

May 24, 2018
The urgent threat from Zika virus, which dominated news headlines in the spring and summer of 2016, has passed for now. But research into how Zika and other mosquito-borne infections spread and cause epidemics is still very ...

Tick bite protection: New CDC study adds to the promise of permethrin-treated clothing

May 24, 2018
The case for permethrin-treated clothing to prevent tick bites keeps getting stronger.

Molecular network boosts drug resistance and virulence in hospital-acquired bacterium

May 24, 2018
In response to antibiotics, a gene regulation network found in the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii acts to boost both virulence and antibiotic resistance. Edward Geisinger of Tufts University School of Medicine and colleagues ...

Past use of disinfectants and PPE for Ebola could inform future outbreaks

May 24, 2018
Data from the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak at two Sierra Leone facilities reveal daily usage rates for disinfectant and personal protective equipment, informing future outbreaks, according to a study published May 24, 2018 in ...

Early lactate measurements appear to improve results for septic patients

May 24, 2018
On October 1, 2015, the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a bundle of recommendations defining optimal treatment of patients suffering from sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.