4 Things That Typically Happen During STD Testing

December 16, 2018
by John Kelly, MD
4 Things That Typically Happen During STD Testing

If you’ve never have been tested for STDs, you may be a bit scared. There’s no real reason to be at least when it comes to getting tested. After all, it’s a key part of being sexually healthy, as being ignorant about your body’s health is not a good thing. Some of your anxiety stems from not knowing what happens when you go on for STD testing.

Gynecologist Dr. Shelia Loanzon said most of the STD testing is negative, but a person can give themselves some peace of mind getting the test and knowing for sure if they are negative. Since STD symptoms are often asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms at all), it’s important sexually active persons get tested for STDs. She said it’s important to know and get treated, and knowing that a person is negative gives them some comfort.

Loanzon said there are many ways in which to test a person for STDs – lab work is done for HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. A urine test or culture swab is needed to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

What Could You Expect When You Go For STD Testing?

Doctor Determines Risk Factors

Before an STD test is ordered, your doctor is going to ask you several questions. They are asking them to determine the likelihood of an STD. Some of these risk factors include a new sexual partner in the last two months, more than one sex partner, lack of condom use, sex with prostitutes or other sex workers, trading sex for drugs or money, age, previous STD history, illegal drug use, etc.

Testing For STDs

Some STDs need a blood sample to test for the diseases, but with others, you may have to undergo a vaginal screening of your cervix. According to Loanzon, a speculum is placed inside the vagina and a swab inside the cervix. The swab will not pain, but the speculum is known to cause some discomfort when inserted. A vaginal cervical screening is done for both chlamydia and gonorrhea, which should be done if a person is 25 years old or younger.

The swab sample is then sent to a lab, and the doctor may choose to do a pelvic exam to ensure there is no pelvic inflammatory disease.

Blood Test

If you choose not to do the cervical screening, blood tests will be done for syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Results In 48 Hours or Less

Once testing has been done, you’ll need to wait for the results. This can take up to 48 hours. When they get the results, they may ask you to come back into the office or have someone call you about the results. If a test comes back positive, the results are given to you as well as the Public Health office of the community you reside in. The key for this is to track the infections to ensure it doesn’t become a health crisis.

Herpes is the only STD that isn’t included in routine cervical screening or blood tests. So, if a person believes they may have genital herpes, they need to inform the doctor.

Loanzon said even though people understand what happens at an STD screening, they may still have anxiety. If this is the case for you, you need to determine what is triggering your stress and anxiety. This will help you to figure out what can ease your fears and mind. If going alone is what scares you, consider going with a partner or trusted friend. STD testing should be nothing to fear, and getting screened means you regain control of your health.


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