Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs afflicts many people in the country. Recent estimates from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention show that there are 19.7 million new cases of STDs each year. This is alarming and the only way to hamper the growth of these figures is through proper treatment, which in turn, can only be done after proper testing.
There are different tests for different STDs. The kind of test someone gets depends on the type of STD symptoms that he or she has like sores, discharge, or pain. The person’s medical and sexual history is also taken into consideration.
STD testing starts with a physical exam. A doctor or nurse practitioner will ask questions about health, including sex practices, and then proceed with the examination the person’s genitals. For girls, this may include a pelvic exam. More common tests for STDs include urine or blood tests. Both of these are quick and relatively painless. It is rare that STD testing requires a urethral swab in men, although many women still need to have a vaginal swab performed to test for certain bacterial infections. However, the vaginal swab should not be uncomfortable, and women who are nervous may be able to ask their doctors if they can do their own swab.
Based on what has been learned from the interview and physical exam, the doctor or nurse practitioner may take one or more of these samples:
- A blood sample (from either a blood draw or a finger prick)
- A urine sample
- A swab of the inside of the mouth
- A swab from the genitals, such as the urethra in guys or the cervix in girls
- A swab of any discharge or sores
Sometimes, the sample can be tested right there in the health provider’s office. Other times, the sample is sent to a lab and the results come later. It depends on the office and the type of infection doctors is testing for.
Sexually transmitted diseases are sneaky. There are times when a person shows no symptoms even though he or she has one. If you are sexually active, have yourself regularly tested for STDs. Early detection is the key to successful cure or treatment.
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