STDs Are The “Hard To Talk About” Topics?

STDs Are The Hard To Talk

Avoid STDs, not the conversation.

Let STDs go away…

If you test positive for any STD/STI, you should inform all recent sexual partners (past 60 days) so they can get tested and treated too.

Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs) can be caused by a variety of viruses, bacteria, and parasites and can be transmitted through sexual behaviors such as unprotected vaginal, anal and/or oral intercourse.

Proper sex education and being well informed of STD risks can help prevent some of these infections. Although there is a lot of accurate STD information available, there are unfortunately a number of myths as well.

In fact, many people are surprised to hear that some of what they had believed about STDs is fiction. How many of these myths have you heard, and what is the truth instead?

Highest Rate of STDs

There are 15,300,000 NEW STI CASES each year in the United States.

1 in 2 sexually active people will get a sexually transmitted disease or infection – an STD/STI – by the age of 25 (and there is still risk beyond that). But the good news is that they are avoidable, manageable and definitely worth discussing.

There are dozens of STDs. Some STDs, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, are spread mainly by sexual contact.

Other diseases, including Zika and Ebola, can be spread sexually but are more often spread through ways other than sex.

STDs are infections that are passed from one person to another during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They’re really common, and lots of people who have them don’t have any symptoms.

STDs can be dangerous, but the good news is that getting tested is no big deal, and most STDs are easy to treat.

STD Symptoms Guide for Men and Women

80% of people infected with an STD do not experience symptoms. Those that do may take several months to develop from the time the infection occurs.

The only way to know that you have an STD for sure is to test before each new partner and to practice safe sex in between.

If you have an STD, it is damaging your body and can be passed to your partner whether you see symptoms or not.

TRICHOMONIASIS / TRICHOMONAS (TRICH)

Trichomoniasis is considered the most common curable STD. In the United States, an estimated 3.7 million people have the infection, but only about 30% develop symptoms.

Infection is more common in women than in men, with older women more likely to be infected than younger women.

Symptoms of Trichomoniasis include:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Foul smelling vaginal odor
  • Itching or redness in the vaginal area
  • Discomfort and burning after urination
  • Itching inside the penis
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Discomfort during intercourse and burning after ejaculation

Learn more about Trich Symptoms

CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States with over 1.7 million cases reported to the CDC in 2017 alone.

It is most common among women under 25 but is usually asymptomatic. If left untreated, Chlamydia can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and eventually lead to infertility.

Symptoms of Chlamydia include:

  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Burning feeling during urination
  • More frequent urination
  • In women, abdominal and/or pelvic pain, pain during sexual intercourse
  • In men, testicular pain, tenderness, and swelling
  • Rectal pain, discharge and/or bleeding
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Painful sexual intercourse in women
  • Pain in the testicles in men

Learn more about Chlamydia Symptoms

GONORRHEA

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD in the United States with over 500,000 cases reported to the CDC in 2017, most commonly among people ages 15-24.

Gonorrhea typically shows no symptoms and can have serious long term consequences, especially for women.

Symptoms of Gonorrhea include:

  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Burning feeling during urination
  • More frequent urination
  • In women, abdominal and/or pelvic pain, pain during sexual intercourse
  • In men, testicular pain, tenderness, and swelling
  • Anal itching and rectal pain, discharge and/or bleeding
  • Sore throat and difficulty swallowing

Learn more about Gonorrhea Symptoms

HEPATITIS (HEP) C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.

Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.

Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

The best way to prevent Hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injection drug use.

Hepatitis C symptoms resemble the flu and can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore muscles
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea or poor appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine

Learn more about Hep C Symptoms

HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that weakens the immune system over time and eventually leads to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. There is no cure for HIV but it can be controlled with proper medical care.

Treatment for HIV is often called antiretroviral therapy or ART. It can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV and lower their chance of infecting others.

Before the introduction of ART in the mid-1990s, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years.

Today, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can have a nearly normal life expectancy.

HIV symptoms resemble the flu and can include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes (generally in the neck)
  • Rash
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Sore throat
  • Ulcers in the mouth or on the genitals
  • Night sweats
  • Diarrhea

Learn more about HIV Symptoms

GENITAL HERPES

Genital Herpes is the third most common STI and is caused by the HSV-2 virus. Herpes is transmitted through sexual and body to body contact.

There is no cure for Herpes but symptomatic outbreaks can be managed with proper treatment.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes include:

  • Discomfort similar to a yeast, bacterial or bladder infection
  • Sores in or around the vagina, vulva or urethra
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Sores on or around the penis
  • Swelling or discomfort in the groin nodes

HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV)

HPV is the most common STD in the United States with almost half of the population between the ages 18 and 59 infected.

High risk strains of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer in women over 30, but will have no symptoms. Infections in women under 30 and all men are usually resolved by the immune system within two years.

Symptoms of low-risk HPV include:

  • Genital warts

SYPHILIS

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through open sores. It is becoming more common in men and less common in women.

Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics but any damage done before treatment cannot be undone. An untreated Syphilis infection will pass through four stages, including an asymptomatic or latent third stage.

Primary and secondary stage Syphilis symptoms include:

  • Firm, painless sores
  • Skin rash
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Sore throat
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Tertiary stage Syphilis symptoms include:

  • Loss of muscle control and coordination
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Dementia
  • Widespread damage to the heart, liver, bones, and joints (can be fatal)

MYCOPLASMA GENITALIUM

Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is a slow-moving bacteria that is most often either asymptomatic or misdiagnosed as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.

It lives inside the cells of the infected area and is spread through anal and vaginal intercourse. Untreated MG can cause epididymitis in men and pelvic inflammatory disease in women.

Symptoms of MG include:

  • Urethritis
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Bleeding during menstruation
  • Lower abdominal pain

Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA

Less Than Half Of Sexually Active Individuals Receive Recommended Annual STI Screenings.

Nearly 20 million new STD cases are reported every year, and you definitely don’t want to be among that number.

By testing for STDs, you can protect yourself from painful symptoms, safeguard your health, and give your current and future sexual partners the consideration they deserve. Here’s what you need to know about the importance of STD testing.

STDs Don’t Care Who You Are

Sexually transmitted diseases don’t discriminate! You can make a six-figure salary or have a doctorate degree and still catch an STD. As long as you are sexually active, you are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

STD testing is the wise choice because it only requires your blood, urine, or cell samples to identify exactly what disease you have and how it can be treated.

Condoms Don’t Stop STDs

Condoms are designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but they cannot and do not protect against all STDs. Herpes, for example, is passed through direct contact with an infected area.

Since many STDs are subtle, you cannot simply look at your partner or date and assume that he or she is free of STDs. Any sexual activity puts you at risk, and only testing can reveal if a previous partner did pass along an STD to you.

Undiagnosed STDs Harm Your Health

You deserve to know of any STDs in your system, knowledge that only STD testing can provide. Even if you don’t have symptoms, an STD can increase your risk of other diseases and eventually even lead to your death.

Chlamydia, for example, is the most commonly reported STD in America, yet 50 percent of men exhibit no symptoms at all. If you are diagnosed with this STD, a simple antibiotic treatment will cure it!

However, if ignored and left untreated, chlamydia causes an increased risk of HIV, infertility, miscarriage, and preterm labor in women. Even worse, the disease can impact newborn babies by causing lung infections, conjunctivitis, and other complications.

The frequency of necessary testing really varies based on how active you are and if you’re currently outside of a monogamous relationship.

The CDC recommends every 3-12 months depending on risk category, but most medical professionals would agree that a yearly STD test is the minimum responsible frequency and testing should be done more if — and when — you engage in unprotected sex with a new partner.

Preventing the spread of STIs and STDs is everybody’s responsibility and knowing your status is a great way to do your part while also keeping yourself healthy.

How Soon Should I Test For STDs After Potential Exposure?

When to get tested for an STD is an important question. After an individual is exposed to an STD and becomes infected, there is a period of time before a test will show a positive result.

This is called the window period. For some STDs, the window period for testing can be as short as a week or two, and for other STDs, as long as a few months. Some of the times listed are estimates due to limited data; in other cases the window period is simply unknown.

When to take your first test after exposureHow long can it take to have a positive test
Chlamydia7 days7 days or longer
Gonorrhea7 days7 days or longer
Genital Herpes (HSV-2)2 weeks*2-16 weeks (2 weeks to 4 months)
Most test positive by 8 weeks but it can take as long as 4 months to become positive
Syphilis2 weeks2 weeks to 3 months. Average 3 weeks to become positive
HIV (4th generation, antibody and antigen)19-21 days19 days to 6-7 weeks
Hepatitis C3 weeks3 weeks to 6 months. Most test positive by 6-9 weeks
HPV (high risk types)Testing done for women 30 years of age or older, usually test 2-3 years after last negative testUnknown window period
Trich7 days or when vaginal or urethral symptoms are present1 – 4 weeks
BV (Bacterial Vaginosis)Vaginal symptoms are presentUnknown window period
Yeast (Candida Vaginitis)Vaginal symptoms are presentUnknown window period
M. genitaliumVaginal symptoms are presentUnknown window period

*Negative test results need to be repeated if initial testing done at less than 16 weeks after exposure

How Soon Should I Retest After Treatment?

Follow-up testing can be very helpful and give you peace of mind. In most cases, it is important to retest after treatment to be sure you are no longer infected. An exception is HSV-2 (genital herpes) which is a lifetime infection.

Retesting after testing positive for HSV-2 is not needed. Individuals testing positive for HIV and HPV often require additional testing during or following treatment. This type of testing is best done by the clinical provider treating you.

There is disagreement among major medical and public health organizations about retesting time schedules. In many cases, there is limited data or even no data to make an evidence-based recommendation.

Given the current state of knowledge, our recommendations for retesting emphasize staying healthy and disease free. Retesting is especially important when sex partners do not receive treatment, individuals have sex with new infected partners, or sex occurs without using condoms.

Retesting after treatmentRetesting after testing negative*
Chlamydia3 weeks after end of treatmentEvery 3 months
Gonorrhea3 weeks after end of treatmentEvery 3 months
Genital Herpes (HSV-2)No retesting neededEvery 6-12 months or if symptoms are present
Syphilis6 weeks-6 months**Every 3-6 months
HIV (4th generation, antibody and antigen)Additional testing done by clinical providerEvery 3-6 months
Hepatitis CAdditional testing done by clinical providerEvery 6-12 months
HPV (high risk types)Additional testing done by clinical providerEvery 2-3 years
Trich3 weeks after end of treatmentVaginal or urethral symptoms are present, but Trich can be present without symptoms
BV (Bacterial Vaginosis)Retest is symptoms persistVaginal symptoms are present
Yeast (Candida Vaginitis)Retest is symptoms persistVaginal symptoms are present
M. genitalium1 month after end of treatmentUnknown

* Retesting is especially important if you have multiple sex partners and had unprotected sex.
** Requires serologic (i.e. titer) testing. Please see your clinical provider for type and frequency of testing for syphilis after treatment.

How To Get Test For STDs? Here Are Four Ways To Try

No1. myLAB Box Test At Home

Home testing is the next step in the evolution of healthcare. With at home STD tests, you set your own schedule and test whenever you want for whatever you need.

That means you can test from your own home, a friend’s house or at school and get the same results you would receive from a clinic.

Home test kits are roughly half the dollar cost of testing at a clinic and do not require insurance. They are available online and in select stores, including Walmart and Target.

For years, you needed to visit a clinic for proper screening for sexually transmitted infections. Sitting in a waiting room, having awkward conversations about your sex life and paying for pricey tests is unpleasant enough for many people to avoid testing completely.

This leads to undiagnosed and untreated infections, especially when you have to go into detail about your sexual habits to receive the right tests.

How it works

It only takes five minutes to complete your test but the contents will vary depending on what you’re testing for. All tests are performed by collecting a urine sample (men), a vaginal swab (women) or a blood sample (via finger prick for select tests).

Every package will include:

  • The urine, vaginal swab and/or blood sample collection kit
  • Simple instructions
  • A postage paid return envelope to send your samples in for testing

When you send your samples in, lab technicians will test them in the same type of facilities that medical clinics use.

That means you will have the same accuracy as a clinic but at half the cost and no inconvenience.

Results are available 2-8 days after you’ve sent the samples, are stored in a secure HIPAA data storage system and accessible only with your username and password.

You will receive an email when your results are ready and can review them online, download a PDF and share them at your discretion.

You can also share a link to your online results with a family physician when seeking treatment or to clear the air with a negative result. All myLAB Box test results are lab-certified and can be given to your doctor for treatment.

myLAB Box will also connect you with highly trained and experienced STD counselors who can provide you with accurate information on available treatments for your infection and how to go about getting that treatment.

Who should test for STIs

Every sexually active person should be tested regularly for STIs, even if they don’t notice any symptoms. As many as 70% of STIs present mild symptoms or no symptoms at all and can have serious, long-term health consequences.

Even if a particular STI is not a serious risk to your health, it is very likely a serious risk to your partner.

Many STIs have more dangerous consequences for women than for men, especially pregnant women. Some can cause complications with pregnancy, including early delivery, birth defects, and stillbirth.

More Detail

No2. EverlyWell Home Health Tests

We’re all adults here but let’s face it, STD testing isn’t exactly fun and no matter how comfortable you are with talking about your sex life, testing can often feel like an invasion of privacy at the minimum.

Anyone who’s sexually active should engage in regular STD testing, and we’re excited to make testing easier and more discreet than ever before.

The STD test checks whether or not you test positive for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases.

In the event that your test results are abnormal, a board-certified physician in your state will contact you at no additional cost to discuss your particular case and prescribe medication where applicable.

We take customer privacy very seriously and only you will have access to this information. As is the case with all STD testing — whether through EverlyWell or your doctor — some positive results require a report to state health departments by law.

This is only done to track infection prevalence. If you test positive for Chlamydia, Syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis C, or Gonorrhea, EverlyWell’s physician network will report this data to your state health board for tracking.

In rare cases, testing for these conditions can be inconclusive based on when you were exposed. These results, called “indeterminate”, do not mean that your results are going to be abnormal, it just means that the testing was unable to provide a clear answer at this time.

Don’t take a chance on your sexual health. Know where you stand with our comprehensive at-home STD test.

Discreetly Test for Seven Common STDs

This at-home test will check for 7 Sexually Transmitted Infections that could harm you if left undiagnosed and untreated, all from the privacy of home.

How it works

Once you order, the test materials are delivered to your doorstep in discreet packaging. Enter the barcode included with your kit at EverlyWell. Complete the simple finger prick and urine sample collection and return with prepaid shipping.

An independent board-certified physician will review your results. Once verified, you’ll receive your results on our secure platform within days.

We take our science seriously. In addition to being highly selective about the labs we partner with, we employ a team of talented and experienced medical and clinical professionals to ensure our 3rd-party partner labs offer tests that meet the highest standards of quality.

EverlyWell’s partner labs are the same laboratories used by hospitals and physicians around the US, maintaining the same standards of quality and excellence as hospital labs.

Each lab we partner with is CLIA-certified by the federal government, which means they must meet high precision, accuracy, and validity standards, obtain both state and federal certifications, and submit themselves to regular inspections as well as independent third-party performance verifications.

No3. Personalabs STD Health Care

Online Lab Testing & Telemedicine Services

Local Lab Work Without the Doctor Visit

Personalabs is your one-stop shop for blood testing and telemedicine. Many people are not aware that they can purchase their own lab tests, without having to go through their doctor or insurance.

With Personalabs, you (the individual) are in control and can take a proactive approach to a healthier lifestyle.

Choose From Over 400 Lab Tests

With a wide selection of lab tests to choose from, you can be sure you will find what you are looking for.

Personalabs offers lab work in a wide range of categories including tests for pregnancy, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV/Aids, Hepatitis C, Herpes, Syphilis, just to name a few.

Convenient Healthcare Options

What’s even better is that once you purchase your test, Personalabs takes care of the rest. We provide you with a lab order so you can go and have your specimen taken at one of over 2,300 lab locations nationwide and in most cases in as little as 24-48 hours, your results are distributed directly to your Personalabs account.

Need Some Guidance? Speak With a Doctor

Not only do we provide you with direct to consumer blood testing, but our telemedicine services allow you to consult with one of our physicians in case you’re not sure which test to buy or if you have a question regarding your results.

We put your personal healthcare first, providing you with a complete, confidential solution to take control of your health.

Order the lab tests and blood work you need online and get tested locally without even visiting the doctor!

We also offer doctor consultations if you have questions regarding your results or need help choosing a test.

Personalabs is a service that provides a health hub solution for an individual to go from worry to cure. We provide the individual with direct access to:

  • Over 300 lab tests on our website with access to thousands more
  • 2,300 patient service centers for specimen collection
  • Physician directed testing if you’re not sure which test you need
  • Quick and confidential results released electronically, directly to your account
  • Doctor consultations if you have questions regarding your results
  • Prescriptions for sexually transmitted diseases, erectile dysfunction and oral contraceptives (birth control pills)

The process is easy. You create an account and purchase your desired test(s). We generate a requisition order that you will take to the lab with you to get tested. You then visit a local lab to provide your specimen.

Once your specimen has been tested, the lab releases your results directly to your account. See how simple? Customer service agents are standing by to assist you if you need help along the way.

Telemedicine that works for You

Personalabs Telemedicine service offers patients the ability to speak directly with a board-certified physician over the phone, tablet or computer.

Schedule a Telemedicine Consultation today!

More Detail

No4. STDcheck Private STD Testing Lab

  • 100% Confidential STD Testing
  • 5 Minute Testing with Results in 1 to 2 days
  • All Tests are FDA-Approved
  • Same Day STD Testing Available
  • Over 4,500 Testing Centers Nationwide

10 Reasons STDcheck is the Leader in STD Testing

  1. 10-Test Panel – We are the only STD testing service that tests for all common sexually transmitted diseases. Our 10-Test Panel includes HIV 1 & 2 antibody (4th gen), syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis A, hepatitis B & hepatitis C, and herpes 1 & 2.
  2. Complete Confidentiality – Your confidentiality is very important to us. When you test with us, you can be certain that you will receive confidential STD testing and your information is secure. From the ordering process to your visit to the testing center, we are guided by HIPAA privacy laws, the federal mandates that protect your health information.
  3. Convenient Testing Locations and Hours – With over 4,500 test centers nationwide, you do not need to drive far to get tested for STDs. Some of these locations are open on Saturdays for your convenience. Use our locator tool to find your nearest testing center.
  4. Competitive Pricing – Our test prices are the lowest in the industry and considerably lower than what you’d pay at a hospital or clinic.
  5. FDA-Approved Tests – All tests we offer are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, we are the only service that offers an FDA-approved HIV RNA Early Detection Test. You can be confident that we follow all federal and state government testing guidelines.
  6. CLIA-Certified Labs – All of our testing locations meet and exceed Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) standards, which govern all clinical lab testing performed in the United States. This ensures the accuracy of your results.
  7. Fast Test Results – Your STD test results are available in 1-2 days. You may call our Care Advisors at 1-800-456-2323 anytime for updates while you wait.
  8. HIV RNA Testing – Our early detection HIV test is based on RNA methodology and is the only FDA-approved HIV RNA test on the market. RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) HIV testing is a newer and faster method designed to detect the presence of HIV in the blood. We are the only testing service that uses this new method.
  9. Simple Testing Process – Deciding to get tested for an STD is difficult. As the leader in STD testing, STDcheck makes the testing process simple. There is no paperwork to fill out or questions to answer at the testing center.
  10. Multiple Payment Options – We accept multiple forms of payment, including major credit cards, pre-paid debit cards, cashiers checks, money orders, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flex Spending Accounts (FSAs), PayPal, and Cryptocurrency. To protect your privacy, we do not accept health insurance.

From the moment you contact us, whether, by phone or online, we do everything possible to safeguard your personal information. We abide by all state and federal laws regulating medical privacy including the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

We strictly follow The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA, protects your information from unsolicited access, health care fraud, and abuse. By preserving your right to decide who can access your health information, the Act also protects your privacy.

We keep your health information private.

When you purchase our testing, you are assigned a unique identification code (works in most locations) that allows you to visit the lab without giving your name or filling out any paperwork. With this code, you can track your test and retrieve your results.

Your data is secure.

Our system is protected by a 128-bit secure socket layer (SSL) encryption and the health industry standard HL-7 interface. When you call our Care Advisors or process your order online, your information is protected throughout the process.

We refer you to one of our 4,500 nationwide test centers, so your information is protected from the beginning to the end of the testing process.

We keep your results confidential.

If you test positive, we are here for you. Our trained Care Advisors are available 24/7 to guide you step-by-step. Our physicians are available for a consultation by phone to explain your results, answer questions, and provide guidance.

If you test negative, your code is permanently erased, guaranteeing your satisfaction and total privacy.

More Detail

It is advisable that you go for regular health screening especially if you’re sexually active with many sexual partners. This ensures that you identify and treat any disease before it becomes a major issue.

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Written by STDsSTIs

STDsSTIs is here to help people think, discuss and take responsible action on some of life’s biggest decisions – ones that often don’t get enough attention. We help raise the tough questions and ask young people to consider what really makes sense for them. Together, we can help Coloradans lead healthier lives and raise healthier families.

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