Everything You Need to Know About STD Tests

Do you have that burning, itching, inflamed, oozey feeling south of the border? Maybe you don’t see or feel anything obvious but you just have that nagging suspicion that last week’s man-whore frat-guy gave you more than his number. Either way, it’s time you got checked out.

Even if you don’t suspect any foul play but just want to be on the safe side, you should set up an appointment. Not sure where to start? Here’s everything you need to know before you put on the paper gown.

Where to Go: Taking that first step can be a little scary. Even just trying to find a testing sight can seem overwhelming, not to mention difficult. Sometimes religious activists set up websites mimicking health facilities in order to preach their message. But lucky for you, the Center for Disease Control and Planned Parenthood are the only websites you’ll need on your quest for sexual health. Plug in your zip code or state and watch as your screen gets flooded with every test site in a ten mile radius. The CDC also has a great feature that tells you who offers free testing.

What you should know before you go: Know the difference between “anonymous” and “confidential” HIV testing. Anonymous tests won’t link your name to your results, whereas confidential information could be made available to medical personnel. Be sure to ask about financial costs, how you’ll receive your test results and how long those results will take. It’s always good to know what to expect that way there will be no surprises later.

Testing: I am terrified of doctors, I don’t like the smells, the instruments, their crisp white coats, even the terminology creeps me out (I’m going to apologize for using said terminology below, but hooha and peen just didn’t seem appropiate). The whole experience gives me that pre-diarrhea feeling but I learned the best way to cope is to know what to expect before going in. Here are all the different tests that are out there. It seems like a lot, but different tests are specific to different infections so chances are you’ll be finished after a quick swab and a blood test.

  • Blood test: This can test for hepatitis A, B and C; herpes (Although most blood tests for herpes cannot distinguish between type 1 and type 2), syphilis, and HIV.
  • Urine test: This can be used to test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV.
  • Swab cell culture or discharge sample from the throat, anus, cervix, or urethral opening of the penis: This is used to test for bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.
  • Swab DNA test from the cervix or urethral opening of the penis: This is used to test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV. The HPV DNA test is used for women as follow up to an abnormal Pap smear that indicates HPV infection. It is not reliable for testing HPV in men.
  • Swab sample from a sore or lesion: This can be used to test for herpes and syphilis.
  • Swab sample from oral fluids: This can be used to test for HIV.
  • Visual Exam: This can detect crabs, herpes, and HPV.

The Results: So let’s say you did the right thing, got tested, and the results were less than perfect. Don’t freak out. Your doctor will set you up with a treatment plan. There are magic little pills that can clear that mess right up, or at least treat any uncomfortable symptoms and help prevent further infection.

If you still have questions be sure to Ask the Experts and have a Happy STD Awareness Day!

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