While checking out the latest news about Obama and Clinton, I came across a headlining story from CNN: 1 in 4 girls currently have at least one STD. As I read the article and thought about other literature on the topic that I have read, I feel it is without question that many people are still greatly misinformed about how STD’s are transmitted, and how you can prevent them.
Although I have already written previous articles about STD’s, I feel it is necessary to write one article only on testing. This blog lets me look at the search terms people use to read these articles, and ‘std’ is nearly always the biggest one, so I think it is worthwhile to explain how STD testing works so anyone who reads this can make better decisions in this area.
First of all, it is really important to stress that there are different types of STD testing, and it requires a combination of these methods to be fully tested. In addition, most of the time you will not be given all of these tests unless you specifically ask for them, as the healthcare professional has no idea what types of STD’s you would like to be screened for. Never assume that you are getting fully tested unless you specifically ask for the blood, urine, and Pap test, all which should be for the purpose of screening for STD’s. The following describe the different types of STD testing and what each test screens for:
1. Blood test: In a blood test, the health practitioner will remove a sample of blood from the arm and send it to the lab for analysis. The results usually come back within a few days. By checking the blood, you can be screened for the following STD’s:
2. Urine Test: The urine test is a simple test. The health practitioner will give you a sterile cup and instruct you to urinate a small amount into it. This will be sent to a lab, which should be able to provide results within a few days. The urine test can screen for:
3. The Pap Smear (for women): Interestingly enough, the CDC recommends this as one of the most important STD tests for women. In a Pap Smear, the health practitioner will use a small device which scrapes some cells of the cervix for testing. These cells will be sent to the lab, which should give results within a few days.
The reason that this test is the most highly recommended for women is that it is the only test which screens for HPV (human papillomavirus), an epidemic that is greatly affecting sexually active women everywhere. By receiving a Pap test, the doctor will be able to look for precancerous cell changes, something that the woman would otherwise not know about.
In addition, the Pap test allows the practitioner to visually scan for herpes outbreaks and genital warts, which can often be internal and therefore unknown to the infected person.
4. STD’s for which there is no test: Because of the nature of some of the viral STD’s, there are some which cannot be tested for, especially if visual symptoms are not present. These include HPV (especially for men) and genital herpes. In addition, sometimes a full round of STD testing can come back negative only because the infection is new. For example, someone can have HIV but still test negative for the first few months because it has not completely infiltrated the body yet.
Some important things to remember:
- If you are going to start having sexual relations with a new partner, have both you and your partner get fully tested before any sexual activity.
- If you are sexually active, get tested.
- Many STD’s do not have any symptoms…do not think that just because you do not feel like you do not have an STD means that you do not have one.
- Any type of sexual activity has some risks, as condoms can not prevent all STD’s and not every STD can be tested for. Make sure that you are willing to accept that risk.
- Ideally, you should be able to trust that your partner will not contract an STD from someone else while you are having sexual relations with them.
- If you have ANY doubts, go get tested!
Sex can be a good thing if practiced safely. Should you read this and have any questions at all, feel free to send me a message and I will do my best to help you. Good luck and be safe!