Testing for an STD

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STD When is it time you should visit the Doctor?

You have had unsafe sex or the condom has fallen off during sex and now you think you might have an STD. It’s also possible that you found out that someone you had sex with has an STD. The problem is only that you are too scared to go to the doctor. Perhaps you are afraid that you have to literally strip off and bare all during the consultation. Maybe you are afraid of the outcome or maybe you’re worried about your parents finding out. How will they respond?

However, it is very important to have an STD test. You can get this done at your doctor’s surgery. If you prefer that it is done anonymously, you can choose to be tested at a GUM clinic or even do an STD self-test. This is a test that you can perform at home.

Do not ignore an STD

One thing is for sure, you should not ignore an STD and hope that it will go away. Testing yourself is the first step you have to take when in doubt. Only then will you be 100% sure that you have incurred something and if so, what exactly it is.

How is an STD treated?

Common STIs include chlamydia, genital warts, herpes genitalis and gonorrhoea. Fortunately, most STDs are easily treated with the right STI treatment. An ointment or an antibiotic is often enough to treat the infection. Some STIs will never completely go away, but the associated symptoms can be effectively treated with medication.

Potentially serious consequences

Your health will probably deteriorate if you continue to walk around with an STD. This can cause very unpleasant symptoms or even serious consequences. You might experience pain during intercourse or continue to do so. You can also become permanently infertile or very ill. And if you have contracted HIV and it is untreated, you will eventually end up with AIDS, a deadly disease.

You should also remember that as long as you do not do anything about an STD, you can infect someone else again. And that person could infect another.

In short, there are plenty of reasons to get tested for an STD and receive treatment if it appears that you have been infected.

Get yourself tested

Every year, over one million people are tested for chlamydia in the UK. You do not have to worry about telling your parents about the reason for your visit. Or anyone. Doctors have a duty of confidentiality.

Professional confidentiality

You can choose to go to your doctor who can investigate whether you have contracted an STD. You don’t have to worry that the doctor will tell your parents because doctors have a duty of confidentiality. This means that they can never talk to others about their health without the consent of their patients. From the age of 16, you can also decide for yourself whether you want to carry out a medical examination and whether you wish to undergo medical treatment without permission from your parents.

In the UK, anyone can get tested anonymously and for free at a sexual health clinic or a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic.

You might be considered more at risk of contracting certain STIs if:

  • You are younger than 25
  • You have obvious symptoms
  • You are a homosexual or a man who also has sex with men
  • You are a prostitute
  • You have had sex with more than three different people in the last six months
  • You have been warned about an STI by a sex partner

STI self-testing

Those who do not want to go to the GP or GUM clinic can opt for an STI self-test. These are available online and can be ordered discreetly. An STI self-test allows you to find out for yourself if you are infected with an STI. The advantage is that you can carry out the test at home, whenever it suits you. You do not have to schedule an appointment and you do not have to feel embarrassed in front of a health professional. You send the test material to a laboratory and after a few days you can consult the results online and opt for a possible treatment. With some self-tests, you can find out the test result after a few minutes. A self-test can be a godsend for people who would rather not go to the GP or GUM clinic with their problem and still want to look after their health.

There are self-tests for specific STDs, such as the chlamydia self-test and syphilis self-test.

Don’t wait any longer to take action. If it turns out that you have an STD, it is wise to have it treated immediately. Ask a doctor what treatment you need. To prevent your partner from walking around with an STD and possibly infecting other people, it is advisable to inform any sexual partners. Read more about how to inform your partner about STIs here.

Source: FPA, NHS

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