What Is It Like To Get Tested For STDs? – STD Testing
Original Article by: Jenelle Marie Pierce
Today I went to get tested for STDs!
Most often, practitioners test patients for STDs when they have related symptoms and one would have to ask to be tested for the gamut of other STDs that they might still be at risk for, so it’s important to stay up to date on your tests, doing them frequently and with a variety.
Anyway, I’ve been doing a plethora of research in support of The STD Project and am learning more about STDs than I was previously aware.
I wasn’t aware Chlamydia is commonly missed (ie. there are rarely symptoms in women and when left untreated, Chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility – in both men and women, and a slew of other non-desirable outcomes). HIV often goes without signs for up to 10 years. Gonorrhea can also go unnoticed – especially in women (generally, there’s a noticeable discharge when gonorrhea occurs in men) – and can have similar negative effects when left untreated as with Chlamydia: pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, etc. Finally, Syphilis can also go without symptoms and can lead to more serious illnesses as well. And I didn’t know that some of them are easily transmitted through oral sex!
So, today I chose to try out STD testing (the aforementioned Chlamydia, HIV, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis) administered by the local county health department.
My boyfriend came along and got tested as well for good measure – the nurses at the health department thought we were awesome – if they would have had ‘you’ve been good lollipops’ to hand out to us, I’m certain we would have gotten two of them. (Adult ‘you’ve been good lollipops’ were our pick of their condom assortment! YES! Free condoms!)
And lucky you, I get to share my STD test experience here for everyone!
The outcome of this post should be nothing short of everyone running to their nearest health clinic screaming, "Test me!, test me!, I had no idea it was this easy!"
Are you wondering what is it like to get STD testing done?
Step 1: Decide whether to schedule an appointment or go on a ‘walk-in’ day (wait is usually much longer, so patience is a virtue should you choose the latter) – I made an appointment as I have little patience
Step 2: Fill out some paperwork.
Confidential testing means you must fill out your name and birthday and answer questions about your sexual experiences. This DOES NOT mean they will call your parents or your partners and tell them your test results – test results are strictly confidential. The health department asks that you tell all future partners but does not make you retro-actively tell people, because, presumably, you wouldn’t have known you were positive for an STD until now.
Also, it is very important you answer the questionnaire with complete honesty – depending on the type of sexual activities in which you engage, they may do STD testing for additional types of STDs or they may test different areas of your body for STDs – chlamydia and gonorrhea can both be in the throat or anus, for example.
Lastly, the women my boyfriend and I met made no assumptions or judgments about the types of activities we enjoy – they simply share the risks and make sure you’re safe in all directions (your mind is whirling now, I’m sure).
Step 3: When your name gets called, a nurse takes you back, asks some additional questions, sometimes does a little preventative counseling and starts the tests by giving you a finger prick.
The finger prick begins the rapid blood test for HIV which is complete 15 minutes later.
Next, a traditional blood sample is taken from your arm for Syphilis testing. The Syphilis is sent to a lab and results are available 7 business days later along with your Chlamydia and Gonorrhea test results.
Step 4: Pee on your hand while attempting to pee into an impossibly small cup for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea testing (you do this in a private bathroom, so no one has to watch you wonder whether to pull up your pants with pee on your fingers or waddle over to the sink for washing – pants still at your ankles).
Important to note: the longer you hold your pee, the better – anything over not having urinated in an hour should be good.
The nurse said chlamydia and gonorrhea bacteria flush out and are harder to detect when having urinated recently; however, after a longer duration of time, they come back again.
Unfortunately, peeing profusely will not make your STD go away. Dang it!
Step 5: Meet the nurse back in the testing room, get your HIV results, and your FREE CONDOMS!! YEY!!
Who doesn’t love free condoms?!
I say, you might as well go get STD tested just for the free condoms!!! (I’ll say anything – obviously – to convince you STD testing is totally harmless and will make you feel much much better!)