STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) testing is a great advancement available to sexually active individuals in society. A lot of individuals engage in risky sexual behaviors. STIs have spread rapidly over time as individuals continue to engage in risky sexual behavior. If more people were to have regular STI checks after engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse, then the incidence of STIs can decrease. This article explains the details of STI testing and the benefits associated with getting tested.
The first step to STI testing is finding a doctor. A great resource is a county health clinic or a primary care provider. Even if that specific doctor does not perform STI tests, they can provide further information regarding testing in the area. Residents of the United States can also visit the Planned Parenthood website to locate a local clinic.
What Is STI Testing?
An STI is an infection passed from one person to another through sexual contact.1STIs are prevalent, and they can be very dangerous or even fatal if left untreated. Some decide not to use protection when having sexual intercourse. This risky behavior may lead to contracting an STI. Many STIs have symptoms, making it easy for an infected individual to know that something is wrong. Unfortunately, an infected individual has no way of knowing they are infected. If their STI is then left untreated, it can lead to serious complications. Many people have sexually transmitted infections and never know it. Nearly 20 million new cases of STIs occur in the United States each year.2 If an individual does not know they are infected, they may be more willing to engage in unprotected sexual activity. As a result, these individuals may be passing on their STI to their partner(s). This is where STI testing can help avoid the dangers of non-symptomatic STIs. If someone is having unprotected sex, then they should go to a local clinic and get tested regularly. STI testing may seem scary at first, but clinics can offer support and honor a patient’s privacy. Some individuals who are at a high risk for contracting and spreading STIs, do not get tested for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons individuals are fearful of being tested is that they are worried that the test will come back positive. Individuals who make the decision to not get tested based on the fear of testing positive are doing themselves and their sexual partner(s) a disservice. While emotional pressures to avoid getting tested for STIs is understandable, not getting tested can prove harmful in some cases.
Testing for Specific STIs
The typical process of testing for an STI is generally simple, but can vary depending on which STI is being tested. The following is a guide for STIs and their respective tests3:
- Chlamydia: Swab of genital area or urine sample
- Gonorrhea: Swab of genital area or urine sample
- HIV: Blood test or swab of inside of mouth
- Genital Herpes (No symptoms): Blood test
- Genital Herpes (With symptoms): Swab of affected area
- Syphilis: Blood test, or sample taken from sore
- Trichomoniasis: Swab of infected area, physical exam or sample of discharge
- HPV (Genital warts): Visual diagnosis
- HPV (Cervical cancer): If Pap test result is abnormal, HPV and DNA test, followed by and biopsy may be performed
Benefits of Getting Tested
- Mental Health
- A negative STI test result (i.e. no infection is found), an individual can clear their head of stresses.
- If the result comes back positive (i.e infection detected), the individual can proceed towards treating their STI, after consultation with a medical professional.
- Finding out whether one is positive or negative for an STI can eliminate the worries of the “what ifs”.
- Physical Health
- Physical health will improve when an STI is treated.
- If an individual finds out they do have an STI, they can take the time to learn how to prevent contracting the infection again.
- Contribution to Lowering the Overall STI Rates
- If more people get tested and find out they are infected, they may choose to treat themselves and/or take safe sex precautions to prevent spreading their STI.
- Getting tested may act as an example to peers that testing something to be embarrassed by, but instead it is responsible.
There are a lot of positives to getting tested, and even though it may be scary, it is a responsible thing to do. STI testing is an incredibly tool that should be utilized by anyone who engages in risky sexual behaviors. It can make a huge difference in not only the individuals life, but the lives of anyone whom they come into sexual contact with. The Sexperts encourage everyone to get tested if they feel at all suspicious that they may be at risk for an STI. The Sexperts also highly recommend that appropriate forms of contraception and birth control are used during, and for the entirety of, any sexual activity. With some individuals engaging in casual sex, the Sexperts recommend getting STI testing on a regular basis.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). N.p., 31 Mar. 2015. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.
- National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017
- "Get Tested." American Sexual Health Association. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/get-tested/>.
Last Updated 7 February 2017.