Your sexual health is an important aspect of your overall health. There are several components of sexual health that include being physically healthy, having respectful and healthy sexual relationships, knowing what types of sexual health services are needed, and using the right type of contraceptive method for your reproductive goals. Preventative care such as pelvic exams, Pap smears, STI tests, and breast cancer screenings are all important ways to maintain your sexual and overall health.
While pelvic exams, Pap smears, and breast cancer screenings should be performed regularly regardless of whether you’re sexually active or not, STI tests are recommended if you are sexually active. STI stands for “sexually transmitted infection”, meaning that these infections are spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. STIs are extremely common and do not always produce noticeable symptoms, meaning that you or your partner could be affected and not even know. Luckily getting tested for STIs is easier than you think and many STIs can be easily treated.
Did You Know?
Every year, 20 million new cases of STIs are diagnosed. Out of this 20 million, around 50% of these cases affect individuals from the age of 15-24. While there are a variety of STIs, the most commonly diagnosed STIs are HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need STI testing?
It is recommended to have regular STI testing if you have had any kind of unprotected sexual contact that could spread STIs, such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex. In some cases, you should also be tested even if you have not had sex, but participated in sexual or close physical touching. It is especially important to talk with our gynecologists about being tested if you are experiencing symptoms of an STI and/or your sexual partner(s) has been diagnosed with an STI. Although some STIs do not produce noticeable symptoms, some common STI symptoms include:
- Sores or bumps around the genitals, thighs, or butt cheeks
- Itching, burning, irritation, or swelling around the vagina, vulva, or anus
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Burning when you urinate
- Pelvic pain
- Flu-like symptoms: fever, body aches, fatigue, and swollen glands
To maintain your sexual health with regular STI testing, schedule an appointment with our gynecologists at Bucks County Women’s Wellness today.
What can I expect when undergoing STI testing at Bucks County Women’s Wellness?
At Bucks County Women’s Wellness, STI testing is performed when requested. After requesting a STI test, your doctor will ask you a variety of questions to determine what type of tests would be best for you. Your gynecologist may ask you about your symptoms, the number of sexual partners you’ve had, what type of sexual contact you’ve had, how often you use protection, and if you participate in other behaviors that could increase your risk of infection, such as sharing needles. Although it may seem awkward to talk about these things, it is important that you are completely honest with your doctor so they can provide you with the best care possible. Almost everyone has been tested for STIs at least once and there is nothing wrong with taking care of your sexual health.
Since there is not a single test for all STIs, you may need to undergo one or more tests. Your gynecologist will help you decide which STIs to be tested for. Most STI testing methods are quick, easy, and painless. STI testing methods include:
- Blood test: blood is obtained through a blood draw at the lab
- Physical exam: your gynecologist will examine your genital area for signs of abnormalities
- Testing your sores: a sample of fluid will be taken from sores or blisters and tested
- Testing discharge: a swab will be used to take a sample of discharge for testing
What happens if I test positive for an STI?
Although testing positive for an STI is not the result you’d hope for, you’ll be okay. Many people get an STI at least once in their lifetime and continue to live a normal life. For starters, many STIs can easily be treated and cured with medications. In the cases where an STI cannot be cured, there are still ways to treat the infection to minimize symptoms and prevent you from spreading the infection. If you test positive for an STI the best thing to do is to follow your gynecologist’s treatment instructions and tell your sexual partner(s) so they can get tested and treated as well.