For those who are sexually active, especially with more than one partner, it is likely you have heard that using protection and being tested should be part of your regular routine. These should be priorities because people could have an STD (sexually transmitted disease) without their knowledge. In a number of cases, there are no symptoms or signs occurring.
Knowing what types of test is needed and what is included in an STD test is where there is a lot of confusion. There are also questions surrounding how often screenings should occur. Answers are dependent upon age, a person’s sexual behavior, and other risks that may be factors.
Testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
• If you are a girl or woman who is under the age of twenty-five, you should screen annually.
• If you are woman who is at risk for STDs and over the age of twenty-five. Examples for being at risk include having multiple sexual partners or sex with a new partner.
• If you are a man who has sex with another man, you should screen annually no matter what age you are.
Patients can expect this test to be conducted through their urine, or a swab inside a woman’s cervix, or a swab inside a man’s penis. These samples are sent for laboratory testing.
Testing for Hepatitis, HIV, or Syphilis
• If you test positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea, you should test for these STDs because you are at greater risk.
• If you have had more than one sexual partner since your previous test.
• Those who are IV (intravenous) drug users should be tested.
• Men who have sex with other men should be tested.
Patients can expect their doctors to take a blood sample or swabs from genital sores that are present for syphilis. These samples are sent away for laboratory testing. To test for hepatitis and HIV, blood samples are taken and sent to the laboratory for testing as well.
Testing for HPV
Because certain types of HPV (human papillomavirus) could lead to the cause of cervical cancer and other could lead to genital warts, screening is recommended. Even though the majority of sexually active people come into contact with HPV within their lifetimes, that does not mean they will develop symptoms.
There is not testing available for men. However, women can undergo the following STD tests:
• Pap test: the pap test, which checks a woman’s cervix for cell abnormalities, are recommended bi-annually for those between the ages of twenty-one and thirty. Women under the age of thirty can let three years lapse between their tests so long as they remain normal.
• HPV test: the cervical canal is where the samples are collected for this STD test. It is uncommon for this test to be offered to women under the age of thirty because the infection will typically clear up on its own within two years.
There are HPV vaccinations available, however they are most effective prior to the beginning of sexual activity. There are links to HPV causing cancer in the penis, anus, vulva, and vagina.