STD (or STI) testing can be quick and painless, and though the idea of it may not get you in the mood, as they become more common, testing becomes a necessity for anyone enjoying a healthy sex life. Even when practicing safer sex, it is a good idea to get screened for STDs before beginning a new relationship, between partners, and on a regular basis; some STDs present no symptoms, so waiting for something to appear might mean waiting too long.
What are the most common STDs?
Though the terms are often used interchangeably, STDs and STIs are technically not the same. A Sexually Transmitted Infection is the first stage, where the virus or bacteria first enters the body and begins multiplying. When this begins affecting regular body functions and everyday life, as can be the case when symptoms and discomfort appear, it is now termed a Sexually Transmitted Disease.
The most common STIs include HPV (human papillomavirus), chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, herpes and HIV/AIDS. Of these, all but herpes and HIV have an easy and fast cure in the form of antibiotics, and even patients with the latter two can now enjoy productive and happy lives thanks to medication.
The caveat: all of these should be treated sooner than later, and you have to be tested to know you need to be treated. Left unchecked, many STIs can develop into STDs. This increases the risk of other infections (including other STIs), rashes, infertility, joint pains and cancer of the cervix, anus, penis, mouth, throat.
When should you see your doctor?
As STD testing isn’t typically part of a regular check-up, you should consider seeing your doctor if:
You may find the topic awkward to bring up with your doctor at first, but don’t worry; at All Care Family Medicine we have seen it all and believe the most important thing is your health. Let your doctor know about any symptoms you may have, some general details about your current and past sex life, if you have ever had an STI or have any other concerns. The more information you provide, the easier it will be to determine what tests are needed and the faster you’ll be back up and running.
How do I get tested for STDs?
Just as there is not one STD, there is also no one test to determine their presence. Each STD requires its own test, with most being quick and painless. Once you have discussed your situation, your doctor may conduct a quick physical examination to find any visible symptoms, and then perform a series of tests to ascertain the presence of any infections. These may include:
Depending on the STD and the results of these examinations, your doctor may be able to tell you immediately whether you are suffering from an STD, or may have to wait until the samples come back from the lab. Either way, once we at All Care Family Medicine have the results, we’ll let you know promptly along with the most effective treatment plan available to you.
Knowing you have an STD can come as a shock, but is generally nothing to worry about. Get tested, get treated, and get on with your life as usual.