What Are STD Testing Procedures?

In the majority of cases, it is impossible to determine whether a person has an STD without undergoing a specific range of tests. The tests themselves will vary slightly based on the STD that is being tested for. Despite this, they typically involve a specific set of tests, such as blood tests or urine tests. Awareness of the general procedure can decrease the stress associated with this situation and make it easier to prepare.

Must Request Testing

All STD testing must begin with the patient requesting the testing. No medical practitioner will automatically perform the tests without being specifically asked to do so by their patient. It is possible that parental permission is required for testing minors under the age of 18. Most of the time, however, parental consent or knowledge is not required, so it should be possible to find a testing center in a given area that does not require it if the patient does not wish their guardians to know.

Determining Needed Tests

After requesting STD tests, a patient will work with their doctor or the clinic to determine which tests are necessary. There are official recommendations regarding testing for specific STDs and your doctor can inform you of these. The STDs most commonly tested for include gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, genital herpes, and HPV. Your doctor will suggest a full screening after unprotected sex with someone you are not in a monogamous relationship with.

Physical Examination

The STD testing procedure will usually begin with a physical exam to determine whether the patient shows any external symptoms of a particular STD. The physical exam may be similar to a woman’s regular pelvic exams. For both genders, it may include examining the genitals and/or anus for infection symptoms. It is sometimes possible to make a diagnosis from a physical exam or description of symptoms, in which case treatment can start immediately.

Blood Or Urine Tests

In many cases and for particular STDs, the testing will need to be done via blood or urine tests and these tests may take several weeks to obtain the results. A blood sample will either be obtained by pricking the skin and drawing drops of blood or by using a needle. A urine sample involves urinating in a special cup. In some cases, other STD testing may include collecting swab samples of saliva, cells, tissue, or discharge so they can be examined with a microscope.

Acting On Results

(positive = treatment, tell and test partners)

As mentioned, it is sometimes possible to receive an immediate diagnosis via a physical examination for STDs, but the other testing methods may require days or weeks for results to arrive. If the results are positive, then your doctor or clinic will prescribe treatment immediately. It will also be necessary to notify all of your sexual partners, even those with whom you used protection. They will then need to undergo testing to ensure they are not infected and receive treatment if they are.