Getting tested for an STI is a pretty quick, simple and painless process – but that doesn’t mean people don’t get nervous before getting tested!
If you’ve been tested before, what tips would you give to someone who has never been tested? If you’ve never been tested, what would you like to know?
I’ve been tested at my GP a few times where I’ve gotten both a blood test and a urine test done… does this method screen for all STIs or do you have to request specific tests for specific STIs in some cases?
To be honest, I STILL get nervous when getting tested and I’ve been sexually active for ..maybe 10 years now?
There’s a ton of different tests you can get to screen for a number of things, but I think if you’re going in for one thing why not check everything while you’re at it? If you’re not sure how to make an appointment, this is a good resource to help you prepare for that!
I’m not sure how the screening process works though, I’m sure @nurse_nettie can shed some light on that! There is this handy resource with information on different STI’s if you need/want to know more about those.
I guess a huge tip I have for newcomers is definitely going in prepared, know what you’re going in for and how the procedure works. Maybe even write down any questions you have to ask your health care provider! And if it happens that your results come back positive and you have a partner/someone to tell about those results, there’s a thread here discussing cool tips and tricks on how to do that comfortably and safely!
Good question @Aunt_Flo! It’s true, I found it nerve-wracking the first few times, but now I make a habit of getting STI tests at least every 6 months (or much more frequently if I’ve had unprotected sex with a new or casual partner), even if I don’t have symptoms — SO after several years of getting tested it has now become like second nature to me and ACTUALLY IS SO quick, easy and painless!
@GoldenRose & @sextronaut I usually give both blood and urine samples which means I can get tested for most STIs (e.g. gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis) plus HIV. The process is no different from any other routine blood and urine tests I’ve had. I’ve also had swabs – vaginal, cervical, throat and anal. There is also urethral swabs for people with penises. From my experience having swabs seems to be less routine and is usually only done if I have certain symptoms or ask specifically. Again, i’ve found these to be very quick and painless
My hot tips:
– Try to relax – remember that these tests are totally day-to-day and normal, and remind yourself that you’re doing an awesome thing for your sexual health!
– If you have any worries at all feel free to ASK QUESTIONS, get your health practitioner to explain anything that you don’t understand. No question is a stupid question.
– The first time I went to get an STI test I felt nervous that when I asked my GP for it they would judge me. They didn’t – in fact they responded really positively. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about! That said, a friend told me about a dodgy experience she had where a doctor’s attitude was scornful to her about having unprotected sex … which was totally uncalled for btw! So if this is something that concerns you, it might be an idea to go to a sexual health clinic rather than a GP, where you’re sure to not be met with any raised eyebrows and have a more supportive experience.
– As @tea suggested, I always say yes to getting tested for as many things as possible – after all its free at a bulk-billing service and then you can sleep easier knowing the result. E.g. usually when I say I want an STI test, the health provider then asks me if I want to test for HIV as well, and I say yes absolutely! If they don’t ask specifically, I double check that they are including HIV.
– Throat swabs can easily be missed out but are just as important! If I’ve had unprotected oral sex I always ask for a throat swab
… Sorry if that was information overload! Lastly, I found the resources @tea linked really great, well worth checking out 🙂
@tea writing down questions is a great idea! I know I forgot to ask a few the first time I was tested because I was too nervous to remember.
@aphrodite9 hooray for regular testing! 🙂 I’ve had a doctor would was quite judgmental when I requested birth control, so I second that finding a doctor that you feel comfortable with is important! You don’t want put off testing out of fear of judgement.
You’re on the right track @GoldenRose @sextronaut @tea. Different STIs are tested in different ways. It depends on the sex you have & usually involves a urine sample or self collected swabs for Chlamydia & Gonorrhoea as well as blood tests for HIV, Hepatitis & syphilis. As @aunt_flo says it’s quick & easy these days.
Other tests may be added if a sex partner has an STI or if symptoms are present (e.g. we don’t routinely test for herpes unless sores or ulcers are present). Doctors & nurses have clinical protocols that guide the testing & treatments.
As @aphrodite9 says it’s ok to ask questions about what tests were performed & why.
@Aunt_Flo a throat swab is not part of routine STI testing. It’s mainly for people at high risk of gonorhoea infection. This is based on epidemiology (big word!) & research.
If a person had condomless oral sex & then condomless vaginal sex with the same partner -then gonorrhoea can be found in the throat, urethra & vagina. So all of these body sites don’t need to be tested. If a person only had condomless oral sex with different partners it may be a risk.
My best tip is to go with a friend or partner! Whenever someone tells me they’re nervous about going for STI check I always offer to go with them and i probably may as well get a check while i’m there too. I find it a much more comfortable experience when I’m with someone. Plus then you can go treat yourself by doing someone fun together afterwards!
@aphrodite9 Oh wow is it free for everyone? I actually didn’t know that it was free outside of a sexual health clinic, my services at the GP are always free since I’m a student so I didn’t even think about it tbh! I’m so so glad you’ve had positive experiences with your GP when getting tested! Finding a good GP who listens to you is really important when discussing your sexual health since it’s such a sensitive topic for many people.
@aunt_flo @nurse_nettie I didn’t know gonorrhoea could be transmitted to the throat! I’ve not needed to be tested for this before but it’s good to know!
@curiousss Good tip about going with a partner! Do you think it makes a relationship stronger doing this? Or easier to communicate sex?