Sexually transmitted diseases are often asymptomatic for months after they are acquired — and some may never show symptoms at all. For people who have unprotected sex, frequent STD testing is the only way to be absolutely certain that they are entirely clean. STD testing is inexpensive and some testing centers offer completely anonymous testing.
What is an STD test, exactly? Most STD tests check for four different sexually transmitted diseases: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. The vast majority of modern test centers only require a blood and urine sample; some test centers that use older technology will require a urethral swab for men. It may be a good idea for men to shop around for a center that does not do urethral swabbing, as this procedure is rather painful.
The speed at which you get your test results will vary based on the clinic. It may take up to four or five weeks to get your test results, or they may be available in as soon as a week. HIV is an exception: some testing centers offer instant HIV testing that will allow patients to know if they are HIV positive or negative within thirty minutes.
It’s a great idea for both partners to get tested before starting a new monogamous relationship. Both partners will then be certain where they stand with regards to their STD status, and can receive treatment for their sexually transmitted diseases before having sexual relations.
People should not rely on visual estimation to determine whether or not sexual partners have a sexually transmitted disease or not; very few sexually transmitted diseases are discernible with the naked eye. Trusting a sexual partner’s word as to whether they are clean or not is also a bad idea. This is not because they may lie, but because STDs are asymptomatic in many cases. Over half of all women infected with chlamydia never show symptoms, as do ten percent of all men. In addition, HIV can lie dormant for a number of years before developing into AIDS and causing health problems. Since people with sexually transmitted diseases often do not know they have them, frequent testing is a must for any person who ever engages in unprotected sex.
Finding a test center should not present a problem; many non-profit organizations offer directories where patients can find a testing center in their area along with what tests they offer and a schedule of fees. Many private clinics exist which specialize in STD testing, and many public health facilities offer STD testing as well.
STD testing is quite inexpensive. Generally, patients will find that testing at a public health center will be the least expensive option since it is partially subsidized by federal and local governments. However, private clinics may offer test results more quickly.