STD testing, especially the first STD test, is overwhelming for everyone. Awkward questions are asked, intimate details are discussed and perhaps even worse, vials of blood are sometimes drawn. Most would much rather avoid it. But with STIs at a record high, testing is important and could save your life.
STD testing doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. With the right doctor and the right facility, you can get the treatment you need without some of the dread. Remember, your doctor has heard and seen it all. You can be assured that all of your questions and concerns are routine for them. Simply knowing what to expect during your first STD test will prove it to be quick, as painless as possible and hopefully informative.
If you’re feeling nervous about an upcoming STD test, there are ways to prepare. Most importantly, always do your research. Here are the basics to know about your first STD testing appointment.
Notify Your Doctor That You Need STD Testing
If you’re following the doctor’s orders, you should be making an appointment at least once a year for a routine check-up. These appointments are important preventative care that can reveal any irregularities in your body and keep you as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, these general health check-ups do not always include STD testing. Many STIs need a urine sample as well as specialized tubes for collecting and freezing blood samples. Even if your doctor draws blood during your appointment, unless you specifically ask for STD testing, they won’t be able to diagnose STIs. Additionally, regular medical practices don’t usually have treatments on-hand whereas urgent care centers usually have the antibiotic injections needed for treatment.
To get the most comprehensive answers about your sexual health, it’s smart to make a separate appointment specifically dedicated to STD testing. Having a partner in the room may not be that good an idea as it prevents an open discussion and the doctor may need answers to questions that you may want to be handled privately in the room. Beyond a look into your sexual health, you can use the one-on-one time to ask your doctor any questions that you might have. Patients discuss everything from pregnancy prevention, STIs on the rise in their area, symptoms and how often they should test themselves for STIs. Take the days before your first STD testing appointment to write down all the questions you have so that you don’t forget anything and you can leave your appointment feeling great about your health.
Once you arrive for STD testing you’ll tell your doctor which STIs you’d like to be tested for. If you notice symptoms of a specific STD or have been notified by a previous partner that they were diagnosed with one, you can simply ask to be tested for that one. If your appointment is more general, you can ask your doctor to advise you which STIs to be screened for. Usually, they will ask you about your number of partners, the type of sex you engage in, how often you use protection and any other information that might be relevant. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but always answer your doctor’s questions honestly. Their only goal is to keep you healthy and they need accurate information to do that.
Statcare offers comprehensive STD testing that includes screening for HIV type 1 and 2, herpes 1, herpes 2, hepatitis A, hepatitis b, hepatitis C, HPV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Unlike home kits, these are high-quality tests that are sent to national certified labs so false alarms are kept to a minimum. Our doctors make sure that you leave your STD testing with peace of mind that you took a reliable, comprehensive test administered by knowledgeable professionals.
Take The STD Test
STD testing sounds intimidating. Generally, no one enjoys tests and certainly not STD tests. But if you’re going to the right place, your STD testing should be quick, relatively easy and as painless as possible. Be warned, not all STIs can be checked the same way. Also, there are dozens of tests for the same STI; some may not be as good as others. Depending on which STIs you hope to be tested for, you may have to complete a few different exams to get specimens such as urine tests, blood tests, throat, vaginal or anal swabs.
During your STD test, your doctor might ask you for a blood sample, where they will draw blood into a vial to be sent to a lab for testing. At Statcare, the blood samples are drawn, spun in a centrifuge and refrigerated on site if needed. Other facilities may require you to visit a second location such as a laboratory or a blood collection facility. That’s important to know if you’re looking to complete STD testing on your lunch break or under some other kind of time crunch.
A physical exam may be required, during which your doctor will take a look at your genitals and anus for any sores, rashes, discharge or other irritations. Other tests include a urine sample, a saliva sample or a discharge sample. In a discharge test, your doctor will swab from your genitals, anus or throat to test for STIs. If you’re starting to get nervous just reading about it, don’t worry. Your doctor will take care of you and talk you through each step to make sure you know exactly what’s happening and why.
The actual STD testing generally doesn’t take long. As soon as your doctor collects the sample they need, they will send it off to the lab for testing. Results typically take a day or more, and you’ll likely receive them in your patient portal with Statcare. Typically, these results will not be shared by your doctor over the phone without proper identification of the caller. All results are confidential and many states have confidentiality rules around HIV Test results so you may have to go and pick up the results n person. Most doctors will encourage you to share the information with your partner when you’re ready and in some states, the laboratory is mandated to inform the state about certain positive test results so they can keep track of infections and their treatments. Whether the tests come back positive or negative, open communication with your sexual partners ensures that everyone stays healthy.
Treatment After STD Testing
A positive result from STD testing is not the end of the world. As we mentioned, STIs are on the rise nationwide, so a positive STD test is neither uncommon nor a reason to be ashamed. Knowing the status of your sexual health is a great first step to regaining your wellness and improving the health of your partners.
We understand that hearing a positive diagnosis can be shocking and disappointing. Take some time to process the news, but remember you can begin a treatment plan right away, especially if you are at Statcare where they keep antibiotic injections on site. No matter which STD you are diagnosed with, there are treatment options to discuss with your doctor.
After giving you the results, your doctor will immediately present treatment options to you. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a medication that will treat your infection and you could be cured in a matter of a couple weeks. In the event that you have a more serious STD, like Herpes or HIV, there are still ways to treat the painful or irritating symptoms. Your doctor might also suggest counseling or other resources to help you navigate the news, should you find the results difficult to cope with.
It’s important to remember that there is no shame in a positive STD test. STIs are simply infections that happen to people who engage in sexual activity. They could happen to any sexually active adult. If you notice yourself thinking negative thoughts after a positive diagnosis, talk to your doctor. Or lean on your family and friends. Better yet, ask your partner for support, if possible. Do whatever it takes to get the support you need until you feel comfortable with your diagnosis.
In the event that your STD test comes back negative for any infections, it’s still important to talk to your partner. Tell them your status and ask them about theirs. Information is key when it comes to a healthy body. Most importantly, remember that one negative STD test does not guarantee that you will always be STD free. Regular STD testing is necessary for anyone who is sexually active, particularly if you are sleeping with new partners or your partner has an STD that you don’t currently have. Plan on taking regular STD tests just to be safe.
Paying for STD Testing
We know what you’re thinking. Regular STD testing sounds great, but how much will that cost you every year? The short answer is: it depends. But remember, we’re talking about your wellbeing, so no matter what the cost, staying up-to-date with your sexual health is extremely important. Statcare takes most major insurance and you can click here to make sure your insurance will be accepted at one of our locations before you make your appointment.
The plan you’ve chosen for your insurance will determine the copay you are responsible for on the day of your STD testing. Most insurance plans cover STI screening tests. If you are paying for the STD tests yourself, it is good to remember that prices for STD tests vary significantly depending on what is being tested. Blood tests tend to be expensive, especially if you need more than one or two a year. Statcare only sends your tests to the laboratory that your health plan is in-network with. This avoids unnecessary bills and confusion. Always check with your insurance company what lab is in-network before you come to other practices for your test so there are no surprises.
If you determine that regular STD testing is out of your price range, there are a few options available to you. You can go to the public health clinics run by the Department of Health as in NY City. You can do a sliding scale payment plan with the laboratory. Obviously, preventive care is the most cost-effective option. Using condoms every time you have sex may help protect you from being infected with an STD. Talking to your partners before you have sex about their health history will also ensure that you know exactly what your risk is.
How frequently you schedule an appointment for STD testing is up to you. Just don’t skip them altogether. After your first STD test, future testing gets easier. You start to feel comfortable around your doctor, you get familiar with the waiting time between testing and results so you don’t feel as stressed. And the part that matters most: you’ll be an active participant in your sexual health. If you’re thinking about scheduling your first STD testing appointment, stop thinking and just do it! You will be glad you did.