We always talk about how it’s super important to get tested for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Getting tested is such an essential part of taking charge of your sexual health! But what does “getting tested” really mean? We’ve got you covered.
“I got tested so I’m all good, right?”
Nope. Many people don’t realize that there isn’t just one test that looks for every STD out there. Actually, there aren’t even tests for some STDs. That’s why it’s important to be in the know.
Most clinics you go to will test for common STDs and HIV. That means they test for chlamydia and gonorrhea through a urine test, and HIV through a blood test. However, there are other STDs that wouldn’t be found with these specific tests.
“Why can’t I just get tested for every STD?”
For some STDs, like HPV, there isn’t a good test for all bodies. People with vaginas usually get tested during a pap smear or annual exam but there is not a good test for people with a penis. For other STDs, like molluscum contagiosum, you only get tested if you have symptoms. The bottom line is that just because someone got an STD test, it doesn’t mean that they’ve been tested for ALL STDs.
“So how do I know what kind of tests I should get?”
This is where communication with your medical provider becomes very important. During your visit they will “screen you” to figure out what to test for. “Screening” means they will ask you questions about your life, your sexual history, and your symptoms. Based on this information they figure out what tests are best for you. (Remember: Some STDs don’t have symptoms.) It is important to be honest with your provider so they can be sure to test for all of the right things. Remember, they have heard it all before!
The health care provider will let you know what they recommend for testing. Make sure you know which tests are being run so you can understand what the results mean. You get to ask questions about anything that is unclear at any time. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
Also, you have the right to advocate for your health concerns. If there is an STD test that the medical provider doesn’t recommend, but you think is important, you can ask for it specifically! A good provider will discuss your concerns and make a plan that works for you.
It’s a good idea to do some research before you go to a clinic or health professional for an STD test. You can find a lot of information about STDs (what they are and how to prevent them), at TeenSource. Then, talk with your provider about your risk for STDs so you can make the best decisions for you. Find a clinic near you.
IMPORTANT! Prevention is key. If you plan to have sex, always use barrier methods to prevent STDs! You can find free condoms here!