The Way to Ask Your Doctor

December 21, 2018

A lot of people think that STD screening a part of their usual health care. Regrettably, most of the time it is not.

If you want to be educated about your sexual health and get tested for STDs, you need to have the ability to ask your physician for those tests you desire. That’s true whether you are interested in an STD panel for your own peace of mind or before taking a new sexual partner.

Why Get Tested?

Among the most common questions asked of sexual health specialists is,”How do I know if I have an STD?” The answer should be the same: You want an STD test.

STD tests are the only way that you can be sure whether you’ve got an STD. Why? There are two main reasons:

  1. Folks are worried as they have STD symptoms.
  2. Folks don’t know whether to stress because they don’t have symptoms. 

Most STD symptoms are non-specific. This means that any indications that you have could be brought on by lots of different STDs.  They could even be caused by another kind of disease completely! The only way to make sure what is causing your STD symptoms is to have tested. Otherwise, any treatment a doctor prescribes is not particularly likely to work.

On the other hand, most people with STDs don’t have any symptoms. That means that they look, smell, and feel precisely the same as they want without needing an STD. However, they could still pass their infections onto their spouses.

They may also experience long-term effects, for example infertility.The only method to recognize these hidden STDs will be, again, for tested. 

The Tests You Want 

Asking for an STD panel is not a great method to get examined. It’s hard to be sure what’s on any given doctor’s or evaluation site’s panel. Besides, you have to understand what you’ve been tested for.

Otherwise, you may assume that you have been tested for something when you truly haven’t. 

That means, once you’re asking your doctor for testing, it’s ideal to request special STD tests. For detailed STD screening, there are a number of tests which you can ask for. These include:

Bacterial & Fungal STDs

  • Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the simplest STDs to be tested for. Young girls are sometimes screened for them mechanically. But neither they nor youthful men can rely on that. Anyone using a new partner or many partners should most likely be screened for both of these STDs. These two STDs are tested for with either a swab or a urine test.  With a urine test, you’ll probably get results back in a few business days. Swab tests, which can be performed with culture methods, may take up to a week. But check with your doctor about when and when they’ll call. Occasionally they won’t reach out for you if all of your results are negative. 
  • Many syphilis testing is performed using a blood test. Syphilis screening is recommended for pregnant women and specific high-risk groups. These include prison inmates, guys who have high-risk sex with men, and patients with another STD. In the absence of symptoms, however, other people aren’t usually tested for syphilis. This is because of the probability of false positives. If you are tested using a VDRL test (blood test), then you need to have your results in under a week. There’s also a rapid evaluation, which can provide results in under 15 minutes. Rapid syphilis testing is not available at all physician’s offices. 
  • Trichomoniasis and BV are often analyzed for using a vaginal swab. Your doctor may study this swab and provide you your test results while you’re still in the workplace. For trichomoniasis testing, the next choice is to send the a urine sample to a laboratory.  Then, depending on the test that is employed, your results could return in anywhere from one day per week. There’s also a quick trichomonas evaluation that requires as little as 10 minutes. Note: guys will probably not be screened for trichomoniasis unless their spouse is positive, but they can be analyzed using urine. 

Viral STDs

  • HIV tests are nearly always blood tests. But some practices can examine a swab of your oral fluid.  Everybody should be tested, at least once, for HIV. Individuals who take part in risky behavior ought to be tested more often. Rapid HIV tests, that are only available in certain settings, can provide results in as few as 30 minutes. More frequently, a saliva or blood sample will be sent out, and you’ll get your results in under a week. 
  • Herpes screening is performed using a blood test, unless you have symptoms. If you have symptoms, you might be diagnosed with a physical exam or a swab of your own sores. Some physicians are reluctant to utilize herpes blood tests at the absence of symptoms. There are concerns about the risk of false positive tests, especially when coupled with herpes blot. Results usually return in 1-3 days.  
  • Hepatitis is diagnosed using a streak of blood tests. You can also be vaccinated for hepatitis B and A. These vaccinations are commonly recommended. Testing results usually have a day or more, depending on where the sample has to be sent. There’s a rapid test that gives results in 20 minutes, but it has to be confirmed with an extra blood test. 
  • There’s not any standard test for HPV in men, unless they have anal intercourse. However, girls may be tested for HPV together with their pap smear. Some dentists may also offer an oral swab test to look for throat infections with HPV. Regrettably, these oral evaluations aren’t easy to find. Where evaluations are available, the turnaround time is generally a couple of days. 

Any blood test that tests for antibodies can take up to six months to turn positive. Additionally, they will generally not be positive for at least a few weeks after you’re infected.  Antibody tests include the typical screening tests for herpes and HIV. Therefore, if you are being screened after a risky experience, it’s very important to let your physician know. There may be other testing options to detect very new infections.

At the Doctor’s Office

When you visit your doctor to be tested for STDs, they can begin by asking you questions about your risk factors. After assessing what diseases you’re at risk for, they will test you for all those ailments. Nevertheless, if you know you are at risk for a particular disorder or just need more comprehensive screening, then speak up. The very best way to ensure you’re screened is to inquire.

Public clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, frequently STD test as a typical portion of a yearly exam. Alas, a lot of private doctors do not. Therefore you may think you’re safe because your doctor hasn’t told you which you have an illness. However, it’s possible that you haven’t been analyzed in any way.

You always need to inquire what screening tests your doctor has performed. Do not be afraid to request additional tests if you think that they are appropriate. STD testing is often, but not always, covered by insurance. It’s also sometimes available at no cost in a practice.

Nowadays, most STDs can be analyzed with urine or blood tests. These are quick and relatively painless. It is rare that STD testing requires a urethral swab in men. Girls are not so lucky. They may still need to have a vaginal swab done to check for specific bacterial infections. However, the vaginal swab shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Women that are nervous may be able to ask their doctors if they can do their particular swab.

How to Request an STD Test

Do not just ask for”STD screening” or even”comprehensive STD screening.” Those requests mean different things to different physicians. The same issue is true for asking for an STD panel.  Instead, you should state something such as:

  • “Although I always practice safer sex, I love to be screened on a yearly basis for my own peace of mind. Therefore, I want to be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HIV, and trichomoniasis, please.” Or…
  • “I am about to begin having sex with a new partner and we would both like to be tested before we do. Can you examine me for your bacterial STDs, HIV, and herpes?” Or…
  • “I recently had unprotected sex and I’m worried that my spouse may have exposed me to some thing. Could you give me a full battery of STD tests such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, herpes, and hepatitis? I know it might take a few of those evaluations a little time to turn positive, but it could make me feel better to do something”

If Your Doctor Says No

Most doctors are willing to screen you for STDs if you ask them and explain why it is necessary to you. However, some physicians are very bad about screening. They may not think testing is important. They may not understand that certain screening tests, such as those for genital herpes, exist. If this happens, you have several options:

  • Request why they aren’t willing to examine you. Then you can politely explain why you disagree with any of the assumptions and might still like to get examined.
  • Find a different physician.
  • Visit a Planned Parenthood or STD clinic in which physicians are better informed about testing.
  • Utilize an internet testing service.  (Not all online testing services are the same. Do your research !  Should you go this route, you should, at minimum, start looking for one which sends you to some standard medical laboratory in your area, such as Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp. The service you choose should also supply after-test counseling and referrals for treatment.)

Privacy and STD Testing

STD test results are insured by HIPPA – the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act. That means that access to your outcomes is limited for you, your health care provider, and anybody you choose to share them with. However many STDs are nationally notifiable diseases. That means that your results for those diseases must also be reported to the state health department. What’s more, in certain countries, the health department is required to inform your sexual partners or needle sharing partners of positive test results. 

Why are not STD results as private as other evaluation results? It’s because state laws require sharing of STD data to defend the public’s health. Specific laws describing exactly what information must be provided vary from state to state. For most diseases, diagnoses are reported on the condition without identifying info. However, some countries require favorable test results to be reported alongside sufficient information to identify you to public health jurisdictions.   If you are worried about privacy, anonymous STD testing is available through several online test companies as well as certain STD clinics. 

A Word From Verywell

If you’re open and upfront about your reasons for wanting testing, most physicians will honor you for your desire to take care of your wellbeing. But if you get any other response from your physician, it’s okay to look elsewhere to medical attention. Your sexual choices are your own. It’s not your physician’s place to judge you for them. Their job is to take care of your health and assist you to do the same.