How to get tested for Sexually Transmitted Diseases or Infections?

Any country in the world has an established system for testing and treating for the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) as it’s a social issue and almost all the countries and all the communities in the world have been affected by now. Normally WHO spends millions on treatments for STIs globally.

Most of the time testing and treating for STIs is a government sponsored project in almost all the countries, and sometimes, some NGOs also offer funds for the program in some situations. That means, you don’t have to pay for testing or getting treatments for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) in any country in the world if you take treatments from the National program in that country’s government sector.

There are some other places also you can go to be tested for STIs if you want, but you may have to pay for the service they offer,

  • Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) or Sexual Health Clinic
  • your GP surgery
  • Contraceptive and young people’s clinic
  • private clinic

It’s also possible to buy a testing kit for some STIs from a pharmacy to do it yourself at home. However, these tests vary in accuracy, so it’s recommended that you go to your local sexual health service.

All tests are free through the national system, but you’ll have to pay if you go to a private clinic.

If you go to your GP practice, you may have to pay a prescription charge for any tests and treatments they offer.

How they test you for STIs?

There are a number of different ways to test for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. In many cases, a swab will be used to take a sample for testing, and sometimes men may only be asked to provide a sample of urine.

A swab looks like a cotton bud, but it’s smaller and rounded. It’s wiped over parts of the body that may be infected to pick up samples of discharge. This only takes a few seconds and is not painful, although it may be a little uncomfortable.

Testing women

For women, a doctor or a nurse will take a swab to collect a sample from the vagina or cervix (entrance to the womb) during an internal examination. In some cases, a sample may also be taken from the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body).

Sometimes, you may be asked to use a swab or tampon to collect a sample from inside your vagina yourself.

Women are not usually asked to provide a sample of urine to check for STIs because this is a less-accurate test for women.

Testing men

Men will normally be asked to provide a sample of urine or a swab may be used to pick up a sample of discharge from the end of the penis.

If you’re asked to provide a sample of urine, it’s important NOT to urinate for about 2 hours beforehand as this can wash the bacteria away and affect the results of the test.

Infections of the rectum, throat and eyes

If there’s a possibility that your rectum or throat is infected, the doctor or nurse may need to use a swab to collect a sample from these areas too. If you have signs of eye infection, such as red, inflamed eyes with discharge, a sample of the discharge may be collected from your eyes too.

Testing blood for STIs

A doctor or a nurse will take a sample of blood, usually from a vein in your hand and will send to the Lab, for the tests to see if there are micro-organisms or antibodies present in your blood to diagnose some diseases.

When can you get the results?

In some clinics, they will issue the results through rapid tests few hours after the sample is taken, by directly looking at the specimen thorough a microscope by a doctor and in some situations, it may take few days to inform you the results.

But you don’t have to worry, because they will start the treatments on suspicion and won’t wait for the results. Those tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis and most of the STIs are diagnosed clinically by a doctor and will start treatments at the same time.

How confidential is the tests?

Only you will be informed about the results of your tests and no one else will know about it. The clinic will contact you confidentially and inform the results to you and if it is a positive for a STI, you can get the treatments in complete secrecy.

But things will be different if you are a child. If you are below 16 or 14 according to the legal age limit in your country, it is required by the law to inform your parents about your condition, so it’s always recommended to seek your parent’s or a guardian’s help when you visit a sexual health clinic regarding STIs.

How they treat you?

Most of the times, the treatment will be a single dose of oral medication or an injection. But in some situations, you may have to take treatments for a period of time and may also have to have several visits to the clinic to check for the progress of the condition with time.

Your sexual partners

If you’re diagnosed with a STI or a STD, anyone you’ve recently had sexual contact with, may also have the risk of having it. So, it’s important that your current partner and any other recent sexual partners are also tested and treated for the disease.

Your local Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) or Sexual Health Clinic may be able to help by notifying any of your previous partners on your behalf.

A contact slip can be sent to them explaining that they may have been exposed to a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and suggesting they go for a check-up. The slip will not contain your name on it, so your confidentiality is protected.


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