Everyone should know how to start a conversation about STD testing with their partner or provider and everyone who is sexually active should be screened at some point. Sometimes testing isn’t necessary (sometimes it is) and sometimes it’s just best practice to make sure you’re healthy. But if it is recommended, and you do get diagnosed, there is some good news:
Most STDs are curable and all of them are treatable
What’s the Difference Between STDs and STIs?
They are the same thing! STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. Since there is less stigma attached to the word infection, most of us in the medical field refer to STDs as Sexually Transmitted Infections, or STIs. It’s possible to have an infection without symptoms and the infection may cause disease (when you do experience symptoms). In the absence of symptoms, the only way to diagnose an STI is to screen for it.
What Are the Most Common STIs?
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis B
So, What is STI Screening Exactly?
Screening tests look for an infection when you may not have symptoms. Just like you get a mammogram to screen for breast cancer or a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer, you can be screened for STIs with a simple blood test, urine test or Q-tip swab. Testing recommendations depend on your lifestyle and risk level.
Why Is It Important to Get Tested for STIs?
The most important reason is to protect yourself, your partner(s), and to stay informed about your health. Knowing about an infection can allow you to start treatment, reduce the risk of exposing others, and minimizing potential long-term effects related to the infection. For instance, untreated gonorrhea or chlamydia could cause issues with future fertility.
OK – Now How Do I Talk To My Partner About STIs?
OK, perhaps not a text message! It might be hard or awkward to talk to your partner about getting tested for STIs, but it is important. Chances are your partner will be glad you brought it up.
Talk before you have sex.
- “Let’s get tested before we have sex. That way we can protect each other.”
- “Many people who have an STI don’t know it. Why take a chance when we can know for sure?”
There are other things you may want to talk to your partner about, such as:
- Sexual history – the number of partners you’ve had and what kind of protection you used
- Risk factors – like sex without a condom or used drugs with needles
Share the facts.
- “STIs that are found and treated early are less likely to cause long-term problems.”
- “Getting tested is easy. Your doctor can test your urine for chlamydia and gonorrhea, 2 of the most common STIs.”
- “Getting tested can be fast, too. For some HIV tests, you get your results within 20 minutes at certain clinics.”
- “If you want to get tested at home, you can buy an at-home test for HIV online or at a store.”
- “If you don’t feel comfortable talking about STIs with your regular doctor, you can get tested at a clinic instead.”
Show that you care.
- “I really care about you. I want to make sure we are both healthy.”
- “I’ve been tested for STIs, including HIV. Are you willing to do the same?”
- “Let’s get tested together.”
Agree to stay safe.
- “If we’re going to have sex, using condoms is the best way to protect us from STIs. Let’s use condoms every time we have sex.”
- “We can enjoy sex more if we know it’s safe.”
Want to learn more or are you interested in being screened for STIs?
Call Bloom Ob/Gyn at 202-449-9570 and make an appointment to see one of our providers!