STD tests allow you to screen for a number of common diseases that are transmitted via sex. Regular testing is recommended by sexual health experts, as it can lower the risk of spreading diseases and also help prevent the serious long term health complications caused by STDs.
If left untreated, many STDs can cause a range of serious health problems. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition where the reproductive organs in women become inflamed. STD tests can help you detect infections early and prevent other diseases from developing.
There are also a number of services that offer at-home STD testing, allowing you to screen for a range of infections without going to the clinic. Although not quite as accurate as tests performed at a doctor’s office, many have accuracy rates of over 95%.
STD tests are safe, with few side effects. You may experience some pain and discomfort, as blood may have to be taken. Some tests will also require swab samples from the urethra, which may be painful for some people.
1STD tests provide safety when beginning a new relationship. Before beginning a new relationship, many experts recommend that you get tested for STDs, especially if you have had a number of partners recently. It significantly lowers the risk of transmitting any infections to your new partner and allows you to get the treatment you need if you do have an STD.
2STD tests reduce the risk of infertility. Exposure to a wide range of different STDs can significantly increase the risk of infertility, especially if they are left untreated. Around 15% of women with untreated chlamydia will go on to develop pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition that affects the reproductive organs in women and can lead to infertility if not treated (1).
Chlamydia can also lead to the fallopian tubes getting infected. These are the tubes through which eggs descend, and if they are infected, you may not be able to get pregnant. This infection can also cause permanent damage, leading to infertility.
3STD tests help you avoid infecting partners. It can take a long time for symptoms of many STDs to appear. Even if you believe that you do not have one, there’s always the risk that you can pass at STD to sexual partners.
STD tests are the best way to ensure that you are not infected before you begin a new sexual relationship. Even if you are not showing any symptoms of infection, the tests can detect common STDs so that you can get the treatment you need.
4STD tests help you get tested at home. There are a number of services that offer at-home STD testing, so you won’t have to book an appointment with a doctor or at a clinic. Although these services aren’t quite as accurate as swab tests done by your doctor, they are still quite sensitive, with accuracies of around 98%.
Home STD testing services will send a kit to you. Most use a small blood sample that can be taken without any pain. Once the sample is collected, you send it to the lab, and you’ll get results within 2 to 5 days, without ever having to visit a doctor’s office.
If you want an even faster testing method, you can take one of the STD tests designed to give you results in just minutes. These tests use urine samples or swabs to detect the presence of a wide range of common STDs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.
These tests are less accurate and sensitive than those that you send it to a lab, so they may not be appropriate if you are at high risk for an infection such as HIV and need to know for sure if you have the STD.
However, for routine STD screens, these tests are more than accurate enough to give you peace of mind, and they are also more affordable than lab tests.
5STD tests reduce the risk of cervical cancer. There are a number of STDs that can increase the risk of cervical cancer if left untreated. By getting an STD test, you can make sure that you are not at risk, as well as receive treatment if you have been infected.
Research has shown that women who have human papillomavirus (HPV) have a significantly higher risk of developing cervical cancer. Other STDs, such as HIV, can also increase the risk of getting cervical cancer (2).
These STDs can be detected by common STD tests, which can lower the chances of developing a wide range of different types of cancer, including cervical and liver cancer.
6STD tests provide confidential results. Many people fear getting tested for STDs, as they are either embarrassed or worry that the results are not private. No matter where you choose to get tested, all of your results are protected by patient privacy laws, so they will remain anonymous.
If you feel embarrassed to go to a clinic or doctor, there are a number of at-home STD testing kits that you can use. Some have you collect your own sample, which is then sent to a lab for analysis. These tests are nearly as accurate as many performed by your doctor.
You can also buy other at-home testing kits that will give you results within minutes, so you won’t have to send a sample via the mail.
7STD tests help avoid pelvic inflammatory disease. Many women have STDs without ever noticing symptoms. The lack of symptoms, however, does not mean that the infection doesn’t come with risks to your health.
Untreated STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can significantly increase the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a disease where the reproductive organs are infected. PID can lead to severe pain, as well as vaginal discharge, painful urination, and infertility (3).
By taking an STD test, you can significantly increase the chances of diagnosing chlamydia, even without any symptoms. This lowers the risk of developing PID and infertility.
8STD tests help detect STDs before symptoms appear. There are a number of STDs where symptoms may not appear for months after infection. Common STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis may take over a month to show symptoms, and in some cases they never do (4).
People with HIV can have no symptoms for years after being infected. STD tests can screen for most common STDs even if you are not showing any symptoms. This allows you to get treatment before you notice any side effects or spread the disease to other people.
9STD tests reduce the risk of infecting a newborn. If a parent gives birth while infected with an STD, there is a risk that the child will also contract the disease. Although this does not happen with every STD, diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV can be passed along to a newborn.
STD tests allow you to get treatment if you are infected and expecting a child. The earlier in pregnancy you receive treatment, the less likely it is that the child will get the disease.
If you have HIV, your doctor can take steps to lower the risk of the child getting the infection. Although HIV cannot be cured, there are medications that can reduce the activity of the virus in your body, which lowers the odds that your baby is infected (5).
10STD tests help to prevent the spread of STDs. Many STDs don’t present with any symptoms, so people continue to have sex with new partners without realizing that they could be spreading a disease (6).
By taking an STD test, you can detect infections that are not yet showing symptoms and alert any partners that they may be at risk for the disease. Any sexual partners that you’ve had recently can then get screened themselves, getting treatment early on if they’ve been infected. They are then less likely themselves to spread the infection to even more people.
11STD tests are usually covered by insurance. Many people avoid getting an STD test, fearing that the screen will not be covered by their insurance. In most cases, insurance policies will cover routine STD testing, so you may not have to pay anything to get tested.
Coverage does vary widely depending on the policy, so check with your insurance company to see what your co-pay will be for the testing. If you are not insured, there are a number of clinics in many major cities that offer low-cost STD testing.
1Some STD tests are not accurate. Swab tests are more accurate than blood tests, so some doctors and clinics prefer to use them for high-risk cases. These tests involve taking a sample from the vagina or cervix in women, and from the urethra in men. The sample gathering may cause some mild pain and discomfort. Although experts recommend that sexually active people below the age of 25 get tested regularly, many choose not to out of embarrassment. It can be difficult for many people to talk to their doctors about STD tests, and some may feel uncomfortable when the tests are performed.
2At home STD testing provides a large margin of error. If you use a home testing kit that delivers instant results, there is a much higher risk of an error. Some tests may give false positives, telling you that you have an STD when you do not. Others may tell you that you are STD-free, even though you are infected. If you are at high risk for a serious STD (for example, you had unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive), you should have the testing done at a doctor’s office to ensure accuracy.
The frequency that you should get tested for STDs will vary depending on your age and level of sexual activity. The CDC recommends that those under the age of 25 get tested annually if they are having sex with new partners.
Experts recommend that you get tested before beginning a new relationship and that your partner get tested as well. If your relationship is exclusive, then continued testing is usually unnecessary.
There are a number of home STD test kits that use urine. Although these tests can be effective, they are significantly less sensitive than the tests performed at a lab.
If you visit the doctor, they may use a variety of different tests. Urine and blood tests are the most common, but they aren’t quite as accurate as swab tests.
For women, they will use a swab to take vaginal and cervical samples. For men, they will use a cotton applicator to take a swab from the urethra.
Your doctor may also conduct a physical exam to look for any obvious symptoms of STDs. Although the lack of symptoms doesn’t mean that you don’t have an STD, it’s an easy way for the doctor to see if you need further testing.
How often do you need to get tested for STDs? The recommended frequency of STD testing will vary widely depending on your sexual activity. If you have sex with multiple partners in the course of a year, experts recommend that you get tested annually.
Many experts also recommend that you get tested before a new relationship, especially if you’ve had multiple partners since the last time you were tested.
How effective are home STD kits? There are many home STD kits with accuracies above 95%, making them a good alternative for people who don’t want to visit the doctor.
However, they’re not quite as effective as swab tests, so they are not recommended if you are testing for high-risk STDs such as HIV.
How long will it take to get results from home STD kits? When you use a home STD kit, you’ll have to take a sample and then send it off to a lab for analysis. Processing time will vary by company and will also depend on the number of STDs that you are screening for.
Once you send your sample back, you’ll usually get results back within 2 to 5 days, although times can vary. Most services let you check results online once they are ready.
Where do you go to get tested? There are a number of places you can go to get tested for STDs. Most doctor’s offices will be able to do the tests, although many will have to send the samples to a lab for analysis.
You can also visit a number of clinics that offer STD testing. Most major cities have dedicated clinics whose mission is to screen for STDs, and they can give you quick, anonymous results.
If you don’t want to visit a clinic or doctor’s office, you can use at home testing services that send you a sample kit, which you then send back for analysis. They usually give you results in around 2 to 5 days.
Can you trust the results of instant drug tests? It depends on the kit, as well as the STD that you are testing for. At-home STD tests that give instant results have improved in recent years, giving more accurate results on a broader range of infections. However, they are not perfect, and should not be used by those who are testing for potentially life-threatening STDs such as HIV.
The accuracy of instant STD kits is often around 90%, which makes them effective for people doing routine STD screens. However, there’s still a fairly high chance of an error, so always take the results with a grain of salt.
How much do STD tests cost? The cost of STD tests varies widely depending on where you have the test done and what you screen for. There are a number of clinics in major cities that offer low-cost STD tests for most major infections. Testing at your doctor’s office will vary in cost depending on your insurance coverage.
You can also buy a number of at-home kits. Many will cost around $250 for testing that screens for 5 to 10 STDs. You can also take rapid STD tests that will cost around $50.
Will at-home STD tests detect HIV? It depends on the test that you select. There are a number of at-home testing products that are designed to screen for HIV with fairly high accuracy rates of around 95%.
However, if you believe that you may be at risk for contracting HIV, you should have the testing done at a clinic or doctor’s office, at the results will be more accurate.
Will you have to get blood drawn? It depends on the test. There are a variety of STD screens, some of which use urine or swab samples from the urethra. However, some clinics will use tests that require a blood sample, although not much blood is needed.
Can you check for STDs at home? Yes, some STDs can be tested for at home. To take a postal chlamydia test you don’t need to be examined, just give a quick urine or vaginal swab sample.
How do doctors test for STDs? There are 3 main ways. Blood tests; blood tests can confirm the diagnosis of HIV or later stages of syphilis. Urine samples; some STIs can be confirmed with a urine sample. Fluid samples; if you have active genital sores, testing fluid and samples from the sores may be done to diagnose the type of infection.
How do STDs start? Many STIs are spread through contact with infected body fluids such as blood, vaginal fluids, or semen. They can also be spread through contact with infected skin or mucous membranes, such as sores in the mouth. You may be exposed to infected body fluids and skin through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
What STDs are not curable? Of these 8 infections, 4 are currently curable: syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. The other 4 are viral infections which are incurable: hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes), HIV, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Can an STD kill you? Having an STD may weaken the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to other infections. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a complication of gonorrhea and chlamydia that can leave women unable to have children. It can even kill you.
Can garlic cure STDs? There is evidence that garlic does kill some bacteria, but not the bacteria that causes chlamydia. Garlic does have proven antifungal properties and has been shown to fight the growth of yeast, which may make it beneficial during antibiotic treatment for chlamydia.
STD tests screen for a number of common diseases that are spread via sex. They are widely available and can be done at many clinics and doctor’s offices. You can also take STD tests at home through services that send a sample kit to you.
STD tests can significantly lower the risk of developing STD-related health complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, and infertility. Studies have shown that untreated chlamydia can increase the chances of becoming infertile.
They can detect STDs even if you are not showing any symptoms. It can take months for people who have contracted HIV to notice any symptoms, so they can infect other people without their knowledge. STD tests can detect infections even if there are no symptoms, allowing you to get the treatment you need.
If you don’t want to go to a clinic or doctor’s office, there are many services that offer at-home STD testing with reliable results. Although not quite as accurate as the tests at many clinics, these services are a safe way of getting anonymous testing.
There are few side effects of STD testing. Many tests will require blood samples, so you may experience some mild pain and discomfort as blood is drawn. Other tests require swabs from the vagina and cervix in women and from the urethra in men, which may also cause mild pain.