STD Testing

Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are infections that are spread from one person to another, usually during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. STDs are common and many of the people infected by them do not have any symptoms. Without treatment, STDs can lead to serious health problems, and even fertility problems in women. Northside Northpoint OB-GYNs and nurse practitioners are skilled at identifying, testing, and treating all STDs.

STDs Include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomonas
  • HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
  • Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (Hepatitis A can also be spread through sexual contact)
  • Herpes Type 1 and Type 2
  • HPV and Genital Warts
  • Syphilis
  • Pubic Lice & Scabies
  • Molluscum Contagiosum
  • Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Zika Virus

Practicing Safe Sex

You can protect yourself against STDs by practicing safe sex and using barrier methods during sex. Barriers protect you and your partner from sexual fluids and some skin-to-skin contact, which can both spread STDs. The most common types of barrier methods are condoms, internal condoms, gloves, and dental dams. Despite using condoms the right way every time, some STDs like herpes can still be spread. Getting tested regularly is also a part of practicing safe sex. If you have had unprotected sexual contact, or if you find out your partner has an STD, it is very important to get tested as soon as possible.

STD Testing

If you are sexually active, one of the most important things you can do for your health is to get tested. While at your visit, your provider may ask the following questions:

  • If you’re having any symptoms
  • If you or your partner has ever had an STD before
  • The number of people you’ve had sex with
  • The kind of sexual contact you’ve had—such as oral, anal, or vaginal sex, and anything that involves skin-to-skin genital contact or passing sexual fluids
  • How often you use protection, like condoms and dental dams
  • Other things you do that increase your chances of getting certain infections (like sharing needles)

It is important that you have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider about your sexual history so they can guide you on whether you should be tested for STDs.

While STDs affect individuals of all ages, STDs take a particularly heavy toll on young people. CDC estimates that people ages 15-24 account for almost half of the 26 million new sexually transmitted infections that occurred in the United States in 2018. Our providers at Northside Northpoint will help you feel comfortable and provide you with sound advice and recommendations regarding STD tests and treatment options. Getting tested is fast and is typically performed through our provider performing a physical exam and collecting cultures from the urine or vagina as well as through drawing blood.

When Should I Get Tested?

Not all STDs show up right after exposure. Some STDs have an incubation period, meaning that it takes time for the bacteria or the virus to multiply in your body to the point where it will become detectable on a screening test. Some STD incubation periods are short, while some are longer. Because of different incubation times, it may take several days, weeks or even months for you to become symptomatic or to test positive for certain STDs. Another confusing factor when it comes to STDs is that not all STDs cause symptoms in every person with an infection. This means you may have an STD and not show any symptoms at all. Practicing safer sex lowers your risk of contracting an STD.

A couple general rules of thumb from the CDC can help make testing less complicated. First, if you’re having symptoms of an STD—like vaginal or penile discharge, pain with urination, or pelvic pain—don’t wait to get tested. If you have symptoms, it means that your infection is within a detectable range. If your sexual partner informs you that they’re positive for an STI, then don’t wait to get treated—get evaluated right away.

If you don’t have any symptoms, the CDC recommends waiting about two weeks to get tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, trichomonas, and syphilis. If those tests are negative, then a follow-up test a few months later for HIV and syphilis can give you ultimate peace of mind.

CDC Recommendations For STD Testing:

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • All sexually active women younger than 25 should be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea yearly.
  • Women older than 25 with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STD should be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea yearly.
  • Everyone who is pregnant should be tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C starting early in pregnancy and repeat testing may be recommended.
  • Pregnant women at risk for infection should also be tested early in pregnancy for chlamydia and gonorrhea and repeat testing may be recommended.
  • Anyone who engages in sexual behaviors that could place them at risk for infection or shares injection drug equipment should get tested yearly for HIV.

I Tested Positive For An STD Or My Partner Tested Positive… Now What?

If you tested positive for an STD, our providers at Northside Northpoint will help take the appropriate steps to test and treat you. If your partner has tested positive, it is important you schedule an appointment as soon as possible with one of our providers to undergo testing and the recommended treatments. You should avoid having sex until you are tested and treated. If you are undergoing treatment for an STD, you should not have sex while you are undergoing treatment and avoid sex for 7 days after your treatment. In some populations it is recommended that you undergo a short-term follow up for repeat testing to help ensure the infection has cleared. At Northside Northpoint, we are here to help provide you with comforting, knowledgeable care during your most vulnerable moments.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (or PrEP) For HIV Prevention

There are now several FDA approved medications that can help reduce your risk of contracting HIV by up to 90%. To find out if PrEP is right for you, we recommend you make an appointment with our expert Northside Northpoint providers for guidance. Anyone who is sexually active and doesn’t have HIV can use PrEP. If you’re at high risk for HIV and you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, PrEP may also help you and your baby avoid contracting HIV.

You may choose to use PrEP if you have had anal or vaginal sex in the last 6 months and:

  • Have a sexual partner who has HIV or a partner with unknown HIV status.
  • If you don’t regularly use condoms.
  • Have been diagnosed with another STD within the last 6 months.
  • If you inject drugs, have shared needles, syringes, or other equipment for intravenous drug use in the last 6 months.

 Our Northside Northpoint providers can help counsel you on the protection methods, prevention medications, and the various STD tests available.

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