Being educated about your body is important to be aware of any pleasant or unpleasant life experiences. A Dutch philosopher, Desiderius Erasmus, said, “The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.”
According to American Sexual Health Association, there are 20 million new cases of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in the U.S. alone. Most of these cases occur among young people aged 15-24 years. So, when it comes to sexual health, prevention is definitely better than cure.
However, there is no age limit for having STDs. Anyone can contract them if they are not safe enough. So, if you are wondering what STDs and STIs are, you are at the right place. Keep reading SF HIV Prevention Section to get know more about it.
Here is everything you need to know about these illnesses and how to get tested for them:
What is An STD?
STD is an abbreviation for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Originally, they were known as venereal illnesses, which are defined as diseases spread through sexual contact. But the word “venereal” disappeared in the late twentieth century, and now we use the term “sexually transmitted diseases”.
Viruses, pathogens, and parasites that cause sexually transmitted illnesses can spread from one individual to another through the bloodstream, sperm, vaginal secretions, and other body fluids.
Because of their catastrophic impact on women and newborns, as well as their interdependence with HIV/AIDS, STDs are a major worldwide health problem. Early and fast detection of STDs raises the likelihood of limiting the effects of the disease.
STDs like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, herpes genitalis and human papillomavirus (HPV) can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences if left untreated.
What Is An STI?
A sexually transmitted infection, commonly known as an STI, is an infection that is spread through sexual activity. Although the terms STDs and STIs are used as synonymous, they actually signify distinct phenomena.
An STI indicates that a person has an infection, but it has not yet evolved into a disease. An infection or STI is the first stage of sickness that starts when the bacteria or viruses enter the body and begin multiplying.
Sexual activity, skin-to-skin contact, or the exchange of body fluids are different ways for the virus and bacteria to spread.
Non-sexual acts, such as using the razor blade or used needles of someone who has already tested positive for STI, can also result in the spread of such viruses. Once you get an infection, it can quickly progress into a disease.
All About STD Testing:
If STDs are left untreated, they can be fatal. It is important to test yourself if you notice any changes in your body. If you are sexually active, then you need to consult your doctor about your risk for STD.
It is not easy to figure out if you have STD only by the symptoms. Doctors would recommend you a few tests to know if you are actually suffering from it. It is essential for planned parenthood STD testing. Sometimes there are no visible symptoms in people who are carrying STDs and have the risk of passing them on to others.
There are different kinds of tests that a doctor can recommend to you. Depending on your history and condition, your doctor may advise you the following tests for STD:
Urine Test: The doctor might require a sample of your pee that you generally provide in a cup or tube.
- Blood Test: You might have to give a small sample of your blood from your arm or finger.
- Cheek Swab: Your physician might take a sample of your saliva from the inside of your cheeks with the help of a cotton swab.
- Sore Swab: Your physician or nurse might require a sample of fluid from your sores with a cotton swab.
- Discharge Swab: They might take a gentle swab of the discharge from your genitals, anus, urethra, cervix, or throat.
- Physical Exam: Your doctor or nurse might go for a physical examination to check if there is any rash, discharge, warts, sores, or inflammation.
- Spinal tap/Lumbar puncture test: For this test, your physician will numb your back and insert a thin needle in between your vertebrae to withdraw some fluid for testing. This test is employed infrequently to check for the spread of infection to the brain and spinal cord.
When Do You Need One
There is no set time for getting a test done for STD. Having regular checkups and being transparent with your gynecologist will always be beneficial.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that an average person should get tested for HIV at least once between the age of 13 to 64.
For other diseases like herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or trichomoniasis, you need to test when any symptoms occur. The common symptoms for STDs include:
- Inflammation of the genitals
- Appearance of bumps and warts
- Abnormal discharge from your genitals and anus
- Rash or tenderness of the skin
- Blisters and sores on your genitals, anus, or mouth
- Unusual bleeding from your vagina
- Itching on your thighs and between your legs
- Discomfort while urinating
- Excessive pain while having sex
- Flu-like symptoms
- Trouble in conceiving
- Lower abdominal pain
- Swollen glands or high fever
If you notice any of these symptoms, then book yourself a doctor’s appointment. Other than that, if you have any doubts about your partner having an STD or notice any of these signs in them, make sure to get yourself checked on a top-priority basis.
Your doctor will examine the signs and recommend a test based on the kind of sexual activity you have engaged in. The test results can turn over in a week or two, through which you will know everything about your personal health.
All About STI Testing:
STI is the initial stage of the illness that can turn into a serious disease. Since STIs are really hard to diagnose, they are often left untreated. You can get an STI from having sex with a person who has STI, bad genital hygiene, or sharing their personal hygiene tools and sex toys.
STIs are common in people who have more than one sexual partner, change their partners, or their partners have more sexual partners. It is important to be very transparent in an intimate relationship to avoid STIs.
People who are sexually active, have more than one partner, or practice unprotected sex should get themselves tested every three to six months. When you go for a checkup, your doctor might ask a few questions about your sexual hygiene and then proceed to recommend a test if the need be.
Just like in STDs, all six tests (urine, blood, discharge, cheek/throat swab tests, and physical exam) are also employed for STIs. In addition to these, two more testing procedures are used for STIs:
- Pap Smear: If you are a woman, your physician will collect a sample of cells from your cervix to check for any infection.
- NIT Kit: Your physician might also suggest a non-invasive test kit that you can use at home and submit the sample in the lab to get your results.
When Do You Need One
STIs are harder to diagnose than STDs. Since STDs are diseases with several symptoms, it is easier to catch that, unlike STIs. Many of the initial symptoms easily go unnoticed. HIV symptoms can take at least ten years to show, while other diseases can spread without any symptoms.
You need to get yourself tested for STIs every time you have unprotected sex or change your sexual partner. Get a test as soon as possible as STIs can spread and grow quite rapidly. The common symptoms of STIs include:
- Itching in the genitals and anus
- Cold sores around the mouth
- Abnormal discharge from penis or vagina
- Foul smell from your genitals
- Flu, fever, and abdominal pain
- Swollen or inflamed genitals
- Unusual bleeding from the vagina
- Extreme pain during sex
- Burning sensation during urination
- Fatigue and weight loss
These symptoms are a sign to get yourself treated before the infection turns into a disease. It is not necessary to have direct sexual contact with someone to contract an STI.
If you have used someone’s razor, needles, sex toys, towels, or food, then you may be susceptible to transmitting the infection. Other than that, if you have been using a public toilet frequently, make sure to get yourself tested.
Even if you don’t have an active sexual life, it is important to get yourself checked on a yearly basis to keep your body in optimal health. It is better to spot the infection early, especially if it is caused by a virus than to live with it for the rest of your life.
Best At-Home Testing Kits for STIs and STDs
The quicker you get tested for STDs, the faster you can get treated. It is ideal to go to your healthcare provider and get the test done at the lab or hospital. However, if you want to try some non-invasive methods, an at-home testing kit is the best option to go for.
Here are the six best home testing STI kits to help you stay aware of your health conditions:
Quest Direct is a complete health solution for people who opt for at-home testing or easy test options for their illness. Their STD tests are one of the most popular ones on the website as they allow the person to understand their health without any invasive procedure.
$199 to $379
Why Is It Good?
They have two main STD testing kits that provide you with an overall view of your sexual health. Their STD Basic Screening Panel that costs $199 provides screens for HIC, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Chlamydia.
While their STD Extended Screening Panel that costs $379 provides the patient with a detailed review of their health. This test provides screening for Hepatitis Band C and trichomonas, a parasitic infection spread through sexual activity.
These tests do not require any fasting, and you can take them following the simple directions that come with the test kit.
It is one of the most direct testing companies in the market, which does not include any middle man, hence the name. Once you submit the sample to the lab, you will get the results within 3 to 5 business days.
There are more test kits available on their websites for specific STDs to have an even detailed lab result. If your physician has recommended a specific test, you can get it from Quest Direct.
They have the best online STD testing service that provides you with detailed test results. From ordering the test online to receiving the result on the internet, you will not have to run around from hospital to labs to get all the information you need about your sexual health.
Started in 2015, EverlyWell aims to provide its customers with easy testing solutions. Their home testing STI kits are designed to be user-friendly yet 100% accurate. They provide detailed tests to help you monitor your health and educate you more about personal wellness.
$149 with 15% off on annual subscription
Why Is It Good?
EverlyWell has separate STD testing kits for both men and women to provide the most accurate results. The STD Test – Female requires blood from a finger prick and vaginal swab that provides screening for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis, HSV-2 & Trichomoniasis.
While the STD Test – Male requires urine sample and blood from a finger prick that provides screening for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis & Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2.
These tests can catch even the earliest symptoms of STIs in both men and women. This will help the patient start their treatment early and take preventive measures in the future. With these tests, you can be sure about your medical condition within the privacy of your home.
If your result comes out positive, EverlyWell will connect you with their extensive network of independent physicians. Those doctors may also offer treatment options for diseases that are curable.
They also have independent tests for specific diseases that you can get STD testing at home. According to the website, you can get your test results within days so you can start your treatment as soon as possible to prevent growth.
The Ora Quick is one of the best at-home STD test kit designed by Orasure Technologies. This test is specifically designed to detect HIV in the early stages. With the help of this test, several customers have got their HIV diagnosed at an early stage and started treatment.
Why Is It Good?
Ora Quick is the first oral HIV at-home testing kid that was approved by FDA. This cheap home STD testing near me provides a healthcare solution for everyone.
If you are wondering, “Can you get a STD test over the counter?” The answer is Yes! You can get this test kit over the counter and take the sample from the privacy of your home.
Some doctors suggest these tests to patients who have trouble visiting labs and hospitals frequently. It is used by millions of users throughout the world because of its user-friendly design and easy method.
The test does not require any blood. All you have to do is take a sample from your mouth with the help of the given swab. The best part is that you can get your test results within 20 minutes only.
This makes it one of the fastest and most reliable at-home tests for diagnosing HIV. Their help center is also available to help their customers 24/7 regarding their test results or any other medical information related to HIV.
Before you take this test, make sure to not eat or drink anything for an hour. Also, avoid using oral care products like toothpaste or mouthwash to get the most accurate results.
At LetsGetChecked, you can get the best STD home testing kits with free shipping both ways. The self-collected sample can be shipped back to the lab without any extra cost. Their aim is to empower people to understand more about their sexual health to live a safer and healthier life.
$99 to $249
Why Is It Good?
LetsGetChecked offers three different packages of STD tests that allow you to check for different kinds of diseases. The first package is Simple 2, which screens for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. It is the most effective home STD test Chlamydia that allows you to seek treatment at an early stage.
The second package is Standard 5, which screens for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomoniasis, Syphilis, and HIV. Lastly, the Complete 8 test provides screening for all the diseases mentioned in Standard 5 along with Gardnerella, Mycoplasma, and Ureaplasma.
The company provides test results within 2 to 5 days. They might require a urine sample or finger-prick blood sample, depending on the test you pick. You get results online within the comfort of your home, along with professional support and treatment options.
STD Check is a health testing solution for people who wonder, “Is there a home test for STDs that ensures my privacy provides quick results?” With STD Check, you can choose from different professionally designed tests that are quick and easy for the users.
$139 to $258
Why Is It Good?
STD Check is the only testing service that provides HIV RNA early detection tests. They value your privacy and keep your information confidential at all costs. They have two packages for 10 Test Panels.
The basic 10 Test Panel provides screening for HIV Type 1, HIV Type 2, Herpes 1, Herpes 2, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. While the advanced 10 Test Panel provides screening for these 10 diseases along with HIV RNA Early Detection.
Wondering, where should you walk in STD testing? There is no need to go somewhere for STD screening. Also, you must not think where to get STD test. STD testing at home is available and affordable nowadays. It is the best online STD testing service that provides results within one or two days. The results are accurate and come with an option for doctor consultation through the website. If the results come out positive, they connect you to a trained physician and online support through their helpline.
STD Check also offers individual tests for people who only want to get tested for a specific disease. With over 4,500 testing centers nationwide, you don’t have to worry about how accurate are home STD tests. The samples are tested by certified professionals to provide you with accurate information.
MyLabBox is your solution for wellness tests at home. Their tests are FDA-Approved and provide accurate results. Their aim is to facilitate people in taking charge of their own health with the best std home testing kits.
$379 to $399
Why Is It Good?
The most common question among young individuals is “Can you get a std test over the counter?” and this is what MyLabBox is all about. They have a variety of test kits available on their website, but their Total Box is the best at-home STD test kit.
The Total Box test kit provides screening for 14 STD risks, including ChlamydiaChlamydia (genital, throat, rectal), Gonorrhea (genital, throat, rectal), Hepatitis C, HIV I & II, Herpes Simplex 2, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, Mycoplasma Genitalium, and HPV.
The test is easy to take and requires finger-prick blood, urine sample, and swab. You can get the results within 2 to 5 days with free doctor’s consultation if positive.
Some Myths About STD & STI
As SFHIV/San Francisco Department of Public Health claims, there is an abundance of information available on the internet about both STDs and STIs. While the trusted sources share valuable information, some websites share data that is not backed by science. Here are the eight myths about STDs and STIs:
STDs Are Visible
It is a common misconception that you can look at your partner and tell if they have STD. Most of the time, there are no symptoms of STDs in a person while they can still be an active carrier of the disease. Only a trained doctor can examine and tell if any changes in the body are due to STD or STIs.
STDs Can Only Occur In Young Adults
STDs or STIs do not discriminate. They can happen to any person belonging to any age group relating to any sexual orientation. According to a study published by the Benjamin Rose Institute of Aging, the cases of STDs among the older generation are increasing rapidly. No matter what your age is, protected sex is the safest option to go for.
Oral Sex Can Prevent STIs
It is difficult to know if you or your partner have STIs until both get tested for the infection. Most people opt for oral sex in order to prevent contracting STDs or STIs. This is a myth as these diseases can spread to any form of fluid exchange with an infected person.
You Can Only Get STD Once
Most people believe that you can not get STDs more than once. It is not true. The Washington State Department of Health has clearly mentioned in their FAQs section that Yes! You can contract STDs and STIs again and again if you don’t practice safe sex or get you and your partner treated.
Condoms Can Prevent STDs and STIs
While condoms can decrease the likelihood of contracting STDs and STIs by 98%, they are not a fool-proof situation. Any mishap can result in you getting infected. You can also contract STDs through kissing, which makes the protection almost ineffective. So, make sure your partner is free from any infections before you engage in any sexual activity.
STDs or STIs Go Away On Their Own
This is one of the most dangerous truths that you can believe in. STD and STI do not resolve on their own. On the contrary, they require proper medical attention and proper treatment; otherwise, it can get worse in no time.
You Can’t Get An STD If You Are A Virgin
This is not true. Vaginal intercourse is not the only way to contract an STI. You can get STD by using the personal hygiene tools of a person with an STD. You can also get the infection by kissing an infected person. A recent study published in BMJ Journals suggests that oropharyngeal gonorrhea are easily transmitted through kissing.
Peeing After Sex Prevents STIs
Urinating after sex prevents you from getting urinary tract infections, there’s no evidence that it does the same for STIs. Why? It’s because STI-causing bacteria reside inside your body’s mucous membranes rather than the urethra, and that’s why peeing after sex wouldn’t affect their quantity or removal.
STDs and STIs have major consequences on health, and being informed about them is the only way to prevent them. You can use the information provided above to broaden your horizons when it comes to Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections.
There are precautions to remember when engaging in sexual activities. Make sure to always use a condom before sex, especially if you don’t know if your partner has an STI or not. Otherwise, having your partner tested before engaging in sexual activities can help with the prevention. Remember, carelessness can have severe consequences.
Stay safe, and keep your families safe by spreading awareness about STDs and STIs!