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What is a STD and getting tested

STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Health practitioners and sex educators are now using the more accurate term STI – Sexually Transmitted Infections. So as you read on you will see me using this term.

What exactly does STI testing entail? It includes a few simple tests that can be done your doctor’s office. They may be slightly uncomfortable, but they are not more than that.

For both men and women, the doctor will first ask you some questions regarding your exposure to STIs and your sexual activities. This may make you feel uncomfortable. However, if you have had unsafe sex, accept it and take responsibility for it. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed. The nurses and doctors have heard and seen it all. It is very important that you be honest with your doctor. Tell your doctor about any symptoms you may have been experiencing. All this information can help them give you a proper diagnosis. If you have no symptoms, unfortunately, that does not mean you do not need to be concerned. Many STIs have no symptoms in most cases (especially in women). So it is important that you get the full STI screening anyway.

Next, the doctor will do a visual examination of your genitals. S/he will be looking for evidence of sores or lesions. If you are a woman you will go through the same procedure as you would for a pelvic exam. During the pelvic exam the doctor will take a small sample of cells, and fluids called a smear or swab test. It is similar to a Pap test, which is a sample takengenital herpes to look for precancerous cells. A sample taken for STI test does not look for the same thing. So do not think that if you had a Pap test and it came back negative that you are also free of STI’s. In the case of STI’s, when the technician or doctor looks at these microscopic cells it will be for the signs of the various possible bacteria, antibodies or cells related to specific STIs instead of abnormal looking cells as would be the case for a Pap test.

For men, the doctor will need to take samples from your penis. There are two possible tests. In the past a swab test was the only test available, but now urine tests are more common. For a swab test a long q-tip is inserted into the urethra and a sample of the cells are taken. They will be examined as were the ones taken from a woman. This may sound painful, but my husband found that taking some strong over the counter pain medication left him with no discomfort whatsoever. For the urine test, you just need to pee in a cup.

If you have been exposed to any STIs through unprotected oral or anal sexual activities, your doctor may take a sample of cells from your throat or rectum. It is done with a long q-tip. It doesn’t hurt more than it does when a doctor puts a tongue depressor in your mouth to examine your throat. As for your anus, the doctor does a visual examination as well as sampling of cells. Again, it is not terribly uncomfortable. It is better if you try to relax.

Depending on the testing already completed, you will also likely be asked for a saliva sample, urine sample and blood sample. There is some overlap in certain testing procedures. Some STIs can be determined by either of these tests. Depending on the clinic or doctor you may or may not be given them all. Chances are you will be given a blood test, as it is the most common way to test for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis.

Common Sexually Transmitted Infections and Their Testing Procedures

Bacterial Vaginosis
– Requires a pelvic exam, examination of vaginal fluid, microscopic examination of vaginal tissue.

Chlamydia - Requires the examination of tissue samples or urine for a correct diagnosis.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – Requires a blood test.

Gonorrhea – Requires the microscopic examination of urethral or vaginal discharges and possibly cultures are taken from the throat or rectum.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) – Requires a blood test to look for antibodies.

Herpes – It can be confused with syphilis, chancroid, and other STIs. For the diagnosis of herpes, it is best to visit your doctor within three days of a sore’s appearance. When the sores have dried up it is more difficult to make a correct diagnosis. The DFA smear test for antibodies of the Herpes virus. The Tznack smear test examines stained cells from the lesion. Blood tests can also detect antibodies to herpes viruses and helpful it distinguishing herpes simplex 1 from herpes simplex 2.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – A blood sample is required as it is tested to detect HIV antibodies. The diagnosis of AIDS is based on the presence of one or more of a variety of conditions and infections related to HIV. Some clinics use a saliva test. There is some debate about the validity of the various HIV tests, so do your research and speak to your doctor.
genital warts
Human Papilloma Virus (HPValso called Genital Warts) – Requires a microscopic examination of tissue sample, visual examination of warts, and for women a Pap test may reveal precancerous conditions caused by genital HPVs. A special magnifying instrument called a colposcope can detect genital HPVs that cannot be seen with the naked eye during pelvic exams.

Molluscum Contagiosum – Requires a microscopic examination of tissue taken from the sore.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – Requires a pelvic exam, and microscopic examination and/or culture of vaginal and cervical secretions. For further diagnosis laparoscopy (an optical instrument is inserted through a small cut in the navel to look at the reproductive organs) may be required.
pubic lice
Pubic Lice – They can be seen with the naked eye or with a magnifying glass. They look like tiny crabs. They are pale grey, but become darker when they are swollen with blood from biting at the skin. Examination by your doctor can be used to confirm the diagnosis and attain proper treatment.

Scabies
- Self-diagnosis is possible, but difficult. May require microscopic examination of a skin scraping or biopsy.

Syphilis
– Requires microscopic examination of fluid from sores, blood tests and examination of spinal fluid.

Trichomoniasis – Requires microscopic examination of vaginal discharge.

Urinary Tract Infections – Describing symptoms to your doctor, as well as possible examination of cultures taken.

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What is a STD and getting tested, 5.0 out of 5 based on 11 ratings

3 Responses to “What is a STD and getting tested”

  • Buelady:

    Love this site ..a lot of great information on sex.. will be back again

    VN:F [1.9.14_1148]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  • heyhey24686:

    Yuk those genital warts are so disgusting. I didnt know much about those sorts of things, and how humiliating it would be to go to bed with someone with those. No thanks!

    VA:F [1.9.14_1148]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  • littlemissnaughty:

    A friend of mine contracted genital warts after being with a new girlfriend only 4 weeks after meeting her. His penis was so swollen and full of pus, he was in constant agony for days. He was put on a course of antibiotics until it cleared. He never goes without a condom these days..

    VA:F [1.9.14_1148]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

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