“I got tested for everything” is not what you want to hear when you’re talking about STD testing. Generally, whenever someone says that, it means that they don’t know what STDs they have been tested for. They may assume that their yearly exam included STD testing, even as it didn’t. They might also assume that their physician’s”STD panel” comprised every disease they cared about.
The truth is, many people probably aren’t receiving the STD screening tests recommended by the CDC to get sexually-active people in their risk classes. We often assume that if blood tests were drawn, or a Pap smear was done at a yearly checkup,they are covered. Unfortunately, most physicians do not do STD testing regularly part of a yearly check-up. In reality, many patients find that they must ask their physicians for STD tests. What’s more, they must ask for specific evaluations, or they won’t know what they were and weren’t tested for.
What STD Tests Can You Want?
There’s not any single STD test that can test for all STDs — let alone provide you with a full and accurate picture of your sexual health. Sexually active individuals should be screened for at chlamydia, gonorrhea, and cervical cancer. The CDC also recommends universal HIV testing. Based upon your individual risk factors, there might also be additional STD screening recommendations that apply to you.
However, in addition, there are certain STDs that most doctors do not frequently screen for — including herpes and HPV.
When screening doesn’t occur, people may not understand they have an STD for years. That can make it quite simple for asymptomatic diseases to spread out of control. If physicians were proactive about routine screening, then the”hidden epidemic” might be better in hand.
Barriers to Routine STD Testing
The shame and stigma associated with STDs make it hard for many individuals to ask their doctors for testing. This might be particularly true for elderly patients and patients who have long-standing relationships with their doctors. Many doctors are just as uneasy talking about safe sex and STDs because their patients, and this distress can make it difficult for them to discuss the evaluations that have to be performed.
Another issue is that many physicians, particularly those in private practice, might not assume that their patient population is in danger of acquiring an STD. But, there’s no sexually active people at these low risk for chlamydia and other STDs that routine screening would not be a benefit.
There are a number of areas that are relatively great about conforming to STD screening instructions, such as Planned Parenthood, and it may be easier for some people to go there than to request their regular physician for evaluations. Still, there’s no reason not to make STD testing part of your yearly exam. The tests might well be covered by your insurer, and making them part of your annual visit will ensure that they get done on a suitable schedule.
Frequent Misconceptions About STD Screening
Do not feel silly if you believe some of the incorrect assumptions about specific STD tests.
Here are the facts about different Sorts of testing for STDs:
- Many women assume that the Pap smear they get throughout their yearly examination is also an STD test. It’s not (though it may incorporate an HPV test). Many gynecologists don’t routinely screen their patients for STDs. That’s particularly true for individuals who are over age 24. This means that many women remain unaware of asymptomatic STD infections for ages. That is something which can have serious effects, like an increased risk of infertility.
- A VDRL test is only a test for syphilis. It doesn’t test for every other STDs, especially not viral STDs. The VDRL test won’t detect HIV, HPV, herpes, or hepatitis B. It stands for venereal disease research lab instead of referring to some virus. In reality, syphilis is brought on by a bacteria, not a virus.
- An HIV test only looks for HIV. Physicians will not always follow up a positive HIV test result with regular STD screening.
- When a physician tells you that you have gonorrhea or chlamydia, don’t assume you’ll be STD free after a course of antibiotics. Some physicians and clinics regularly screen young people for these two, exceptionally common, bacterial STDs, but do not examine them for anything else. Unfortunately, when patients hear they have gonorrhea or chlamydia also that it can be treated, they often assume that it also means they’re clear and free of any other STDs. That isn’t necessarily the case and, without additional tests, other STDs can stay undetected.
Take Charge of Your Sexual Health
People today expect their physicians will know how to examine them suitably and do so without them asking. But not all physicians know or follow the guidelines. The very best thing you can do is approach your doctor with a listing of particular ailments you would like to get screened for. Alternately, say that you wish to be comprehensively tested and ask what that means to your physician. Then, if the physician’s definition of”comprehensive” does not include a disease you are worried about (like herpes), that test could be inserted.
If you have been tested for STDs and received a negative or positive result from your doctor, it is essential that you ask precisely what you were examined for. It may turn out you’re screened for HIV or chlamydia. In a nutshell, if you would like to know whether you are free of STDs, you need to request the tests you want. If you think you were tested, but don’t understand exactly what you’ve been tested for, there is a fantastic chance that you weren’t tested in any way.
A Word From Verywell
If you are sexually active, you need to safeguard your wellbeing by beating any distress and asking about regular STD screening. Learn which evaluations are recommended for your age, sex, and lifestyle. You can check your health care paperwork or electronic medical record to learn what you own and have yet to be tested for. Then it might be time to ask your physician for the tests you desire or to explain test results.