Testing for Life: Understanding the STD Screening and Diagnosis Process
If you are sexually active now or intend to have sex in the future, you should know as much as possible about STD testing. These days, it’s a brilliant idea to ask any potential partner to provide their personal STD test results before exploring any adult behavior that might lead to an infection. You should be willing and able to provide the same to them. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed or nervous about being tested. Doing so will give you and your partner peace of mind and increase your intimacy.
Should you be tested?
If you are experiencing symptoms of STD, you should get yourself tested without delay. You should also refrain from sexual activity until your test results have been delivered. The same is true if you have had any sort of unprotected sex and are experiencing no symptoms at all, says Planned Parenthood. Many sexually transmitted infections show no obvious symptoms, so it’s imperative that you and your potential partner get tested prior to engaging in lovemaking.
Typical symptoms of sexual infection include painful or burning urination and sores on the genitals, mouth or anal area. Bleeding between menstrual cycles may be a sign of STD infection, as can unpleasant vaginal discharge and unexplained abdominal aches, according to Mayo Clinic. When a person is infected with an STD, they may notice swollen lymph nodes, especially in the pelvic region. Painful intercourse, random fevers and body rash may also be indications that a sexually transmitted disease has taken hold.
As mentioned above, not all sexually transmitted diseases show obvious symptoms. The only way to know for certain whether or not you and/or your partner are infected is to be tested for STD at a doctor’s office or one of the many STD testing clinics located around the nation.
STD testing is easy and nothing to be nervous about. When you visit an STD clinic, you will be treated with respect and confidentiality. In the 21st century, it’s important that all adults take control of their own sexual health, and we commend you for doing so. Granted, a “date” to attend a clinic for STD testing is not a very romantic idea, but once you and partner are sure you’re both safe and uninfected, you can enjoy each others company without reservation.
Risk factors for STD infection include sex with multiple partners and intercourse without a latex condom. Inconsistent or improper use of condoms also increases the risk of sexual infection. Persons with a history of STD may be more likely to become reinfected than people who have never contracted a sexually transmitted disease.
Alcohol and drug abuse can make a person too casual about sex and put their good judgment aside. Youth is another factor that features prominently on the list of risks. According to Mayo Clinic, the preponderance of STD infection happens to persons between the ages of 15 and 24.
The type of STD testing you’ll do depends on the situation. Some sexually transmitted diseases are tested for by pelvic examination. Others require blood samples to be taken, while others rely on a
urine sample. None of these tests are painful, and none are anything to worry about. Sometimes, treatment is started right away. Other times, test results may take a few days.
If you are under the age of 18, you probably won’t need your parents’ permission to be tested for STD. Planned Parenthood and other clinics are dedicated to patient privacy, so nobody else can or will be told that you’ve been tested or what your STD test results say.
It is well known that abstinence is the only way to prevent STD infection 100 percent of the time. That’s not a realistic solution, however. The best way to ensure your sexual health is to be tested before entering into a completely monogamous relationship.
Singles who sleep with multiple partners ought to wear a condom or have their partner wear one each and every time they have sexual relations with anyone. Oral sex is somewhat safer than traditional intercourse, but a dental dam is recommended for sexual play involving mouths in non-monogamous relationships.
A sexual relationship can be a beautiful thing or it can be little more than a wild weekend. In either case, determining your sexual health before jumping into bed with another adult is the smart and savvy way to stay safe in the 21st century.
Finley Burton is a nurse who works at a family planning clinic each Monday, mostly dealing with young people who have contraceptive and STD questions and concerns. Easy to talk to, Finley manages to gain the trust of even the most shy of patients who pass through the doors each week.