How a Self STD Test Can Reduce the Demand for Pelvic Exams

November 19, 2018

Going to the doctor can be difficult. That’s particularly true if you’re dreading the trip. For many people, it’s the dentist which disturbs them. For different people, it is the thought of having to undergo a pelvic exam. It may be emotionally intimidating to place your feet in the stirrups at a gynecologist’s office. Some individuals are also fearful that a rectal examination will hurt.

It may be an uncomfortable experience–particularly if you’re stressed or fearful.

Concern about having to undergo a pelvic exam can make people reluctant to seek out STD testing. Luckily, there are numerous possibilities for those who are interested in STD testing but don’t wish to have a physician performing an exam they perceive as romantic. One of those options is self STD testing, also you may do it at your doctor’s office.

What Is the Goal of a Pelvic Exam?

There are lots of reasons why physicians perform pelvic examinations. First of all, the exam is used to check on gynecological health. During the examination, the doctor can search for indicators of ovarian cysts, fibroids, STDs, as well as early stage cancer. Some gynecological health ailments can only be recognized through a pelvic exam. Furthermore, a rectal examination is needed to perform a Pap smear. (it’s important to be aware that a Pap smear is not an STD evaluation.

It appears for possibly pre-cancerous changes to the cervix.) 

Pelvic exams may also be required to diagnose specific health conditions. For instance, if you’re having pelvic pain or irregular bleeding. Then a physician may use a pelvic examination to attempt to comprehend the cause of your symptoms. 

STD testing is often done during a pelvic exam.

Before or after your gynecologist does your Pap smear, she may take extra swabs to check for various STDs. She might also execute a wet mount. This test involves putting a vaginal sample onto a slide to look for conditions like trichom oniasis and bacterial vaginosis. However, if the idea of undergoing a rectal examination is preventing you from having an STD evaluation, you will find different ways to acquire the information that you want to stay healthy. 

Types of Samples for STD Tests 

There are several types of samples that may be used for STD tests. Not many sample types will probably work for all STDs, but there are normally tests that will help people avoid a rectal examination if they are very worried about one. There are a few STDs where visual inspection is the best way of diagnosis, but there are often other ways to check for the existence of an STD. (One exception to this is genital warts. They are constantly characterized by visual inspection of the growths. The same goes for molluscum contagiosum.)  Types of samples comprise:

  • Blood, which may be used to detect STDs which are present in the blood (i.e. HIV.) Blood samples can also be employed to detect antibodies against different STDs. There are blood tests for syphilis which are very powerful. There are also type-specific evaluations for oral herpes and general herpes. But many doctors will merely use a blood test for herpes at the existence of symptoms. 
  • Urine tests for STDs are growing in popularity thanks to the development of molecular amplification tests which detect very tiny quantities of bacterial DNA. They are most frequently utilized to detect chlamydia and gonorrhea, although there are also urine tests for trichomoniasis.  These tests have some disadvantages when compared to swab tests, which is discussed below. 
  • Vaginal swabs can be carried out by a physician so as to gather samples for STD testing. These swabs can be used to test for a wide variety of bacterial STDs. But importantly, it’s also likely to take a self-swab for STD testing. Even when vaginal swabs would be the best option, they don’t necessarily require a doctor. Patients can take themsuccessfully, themselves. 
  • Urethral swabs can also be performed by a doctor or patient. They have similar usefulness to vaginal swabs but are utilized to check the manhood. 
  • Throat and rectal swabs can be used to identify illnesses transmitted by oral sex and anal sex. Blood tests can identify infections at these websites. But, urine, vaginal swabs, and urethral swabs wouldn’t. 

Self Swabs vs. Other Forms of Samples 

Urine tests work really well for a number of STDs. However, they’re basically more effective for people with penises than people with vaginas. Why? Since urine moves through the significant site of infection, the penile urethra. But, it doesn’t pass through the vagina or the cervix, the major sites of infection. In such cases, a vaginal swab might be a more effective option. And sometimes a urethral swab is the sole alternative available. 

Sad to say, the notion of owning a physician take a vaginal or urethral swab can be quite off-putting for some. Many folks, given the choice, would prefer to take those samples themselves. This might be especially true for people with a history of sexual trauma or people with gender dysphoria that makes genital tests embarrassing. Still, some patients and doctors question whether self-swabs are as powerful as doctor-collected swabs for detecting STDs. By and large, the answer appears to be yes. In fact, some research suggests that self-collected swabs would be the better choice. 

A number of studies have found that individuals are more prepared to undergo STD tests if they could take their swabs themselves. This is true for individuals of a number of ages and sexes. It’s also true for not just vaginal and urethral swabs but also rectal and throat swabs. Most individuals are eager to swab themselves if given the option. It’s both easy to do and easy to do right. 

Studies have also shown that the self-swabs are at least as good at detecting bacterial STDs as germs and cervical swab. In fact, multiple studies have indicated that they’re actually better. They are also cheaper and easier to implement than physician swabs. There’s no reason why they can’t be broadly used to make STD screening more available to all. 

A Word From Verywell

Your physician may or might not be aware that self STD tests are an option. Consequently, if you are interested in researching self-swabs as a replacement for a doctor swab, you may need to ask. If you do, along with your doctor is reluctant, do not give up hope. Show them the citations at the bottom of this guide, and ask them to do a little bit of research on their own. A self STD evaluation is a reasonable thing to ask for. Don’t be afraid to do so, if it is something that’s going to help you to get the testing you require. The best testing option will not do you any good if you’re not prepared or able to utilize it. 

If you are not keen to go to the doctor in any way, no matter who does the swabbing, then you may want to consider online or house STD testing. The best of the internet options use the very same tests that you would find in your doctor’s office. However, home and online testing requires you to do your homework. You want to make certain that the business you select is using appropriate tests and testing for several of the STDs you care about. In addition, you need to generate a plan for seeking care if your results can turn out to be positive. Asking for yourself STD test at the physician might be a better option for many men and women. That’s particularly true for anybody who doesn’t need to perform the research needed to find good analyzing options or who would like to have an easy link to STD treatment.