STD Testing Q&A
When Should I Be Tested?
Many women are under the impression that they are tested for STDs at their regular OB/GYN exam. While a pap smear can reveal that an STD could be present, this does not screen for individual STDs. If you want to be tested for STDs, you must ask your doctor. Of course, this can be somewhat embarrassing for some people, but it is important to remember that your doctor holds your health and wellbeing as a top priority. If you believe that you might have been exposed to an STD, asking to be tested will protect not only your sexual health but also that of your future partners.
Many STDs do not cause symptoms. For this reason, people who go untested often never know that they are carrying a sexual disease. The STDs that do cause symptoms are usually associated with itching, burning sores or discharge from the vagina or penis. If you have engaged in unprotected sex, meaning that you did not use a condom or a barrier between you and your partner, talking with your doctor about STD testing is a very good idea. Putting your mind at ease and getting the treatment that you need is imperative. Your doctor can also talk to you about how you can prevent contracting an STD in the future, such as by getting an HPV vaccine.
How is STD Testing Done?
STD testing is dependent on the individual and the type of infections they might have contracted. Most commonly, testing will include a pelvic exam to determine visually if a person has signs of an infection, a blood sample to be tested in the lab, a urine sample, discharge sample, cellular sample and saliva sample. On occasion, a doctor can make a diagnosis based on their physical assessment, and you can begin your treatment immediately. If your doctor orders samples to be screened in the lab, the results could take days or even weeks to return. During this waiting period, do not panic. Remember, your doctor is there to help.