What to expect (when you’re not expecting): A guide to getting an STI test

So, you’re sexually active and you think it might be a good idea to get an STI test (it’s even a good idea to get one if you’re NOT sexually active).

But what’s it going to be like? 
Here’s our #SEXYSAFESEX lowdown on where to go, what to expect and what happens next.

Where to go:

You can get an STI test from most Doctors and medical centres. Most universities will also offer them (free if you’re with Medicare).

You can also get them from Planned Parenthood and dedicated Sexual Health Centres

What to expect:

Depending on what you get tested for (but you may as well ask for the whole package) your Dr. might take a swab of your mouth or genitals, a blood sample, a urine sample and a good ‘ol look around at your junk.

If you’re a woman we’d suggest getting a papsmear while you’re there, two birds one stone.

Doctors generally won’t ask you any unnecessary questions, and you don’t need to answer anything you don’t feel comfortable divulging. The only real answers come from the test results anyway.

Then what: 

You will need to make another appointment to come back to discuss results (it can take up to 10 days). Some clinics offer a text message service if you’re in the clear! However, they tend to push for the follow up appointment.

All clear:

Congratulations! You can continue to have #SEXYSAFESEX

Something came up:

Firstly, it’s not the end of the world. Check out our previous “Meet….” blogs. Many STI’s are treatable with a round of antibiotics. Other STI’s are more serious but it is still possible to have sex with a partner as long as your use a condom and are upfront.
You will need to provide the Doctor or clinic with a list of the people who you have slept with since your last test so they can be anonymously tested.

Apart from that, you can get back to your daily routine. Just make sure that you always use a condom!

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Meet Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious condition, in women. 1 in 8 women with a history of PID experience difficulties getting pregnant. You can prevent PID if you know how to protect yourself.

dr

Photosource: http://curt-rice.com/2012/05/14/a-sex-point-or-two-for-male-nurses/

This one is all on you (kinda). You thought something might be wrong, you were a little uncomfortable, but you’re of the “if it aint broke don’t fix it” school of thought. You only visit the Doc if something is really up. You left this one a little too long though.

Meet Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)  

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. It is a complication often caused by some STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Other infections that are not sexually transmitted can also cause PID.

How do I get PID?

You are more likely to get PID if you

  • Have an STD and do not get treated;
  • Have more than one sex partner;
  • Have a sex partner who has sex partners other than you;
  • Have had PID before;
  • Are sexually active and are age 25 or younger;
  • Douche;
  • Use an IUD for birth control.

How can I reduce my risk of getting PID?

The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting PID:

  • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results;
  • Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.

How do I know if I have PID?

There are no tests for PID. A diagnosis is usually based on a combination of your medical history, physical exam, and other test results. You may not realize you have PID because your symptoms may be mild, or you may not experience any symptoms. However, if you do have symptoms, you may notice

  • Pain in your lower abdomen;
  • Fever;
  • An unusual discharge with a bad odor from your vagina;
  • Pain and/or bleeding when you have sex;
  • Burning sensation when you urinate; or
  • Bleeding between periods.

You should

  • Be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms;
  • Promptly see a doctor if you think you or your sex partner(s) have or were exposed to an STD;
  • Promptly see a doctor if you have any genital symptoms such as an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods;
  • Get a test for chlamydia every year if you are sexually active and 25 years of age or younger;
  • Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider if you are sexually active and ask whether you should be tested for other STDs.

Can PID be cured?

Yes, if PID is diagnosed early, it can be treated. However, treatment won’t undo any damage that has already happened to your reproductive system. The longer you wait to get treated, the more likely it is that you will have complications from PID. While taking antibiotics, your symptoms may go away before the infection is cured. Even if symptoms go away, you should finish taking all of your medicine. Be sure to tell your recent sex partner(s), so they can get tested and treated for STDs, too. It is also very important that you and your partner both finish your treatment before having any kind of sex so that you don’t re-infect each other.

You can get PID again if you get infected with an STD again. Also, if you have had PID before, you have a higher chance of getting it again.

What happens if I don’t get treated?

If diagnosed and treated early, the complications of PID can be prevented. Some of the complications of PID are

  • Formation of scar tissue both outside and inside the fallopian tubes that can lead to tubal blockage;
  • Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb);
  • Infertility (inability to get pregnant);
  • Long-term pelvic/abdominal pain.

Meet Pubic Lice (Crabs)

dreadlocks

http://www.omnilexica.com/?q=dreadlock

There was a time period when you were right into fire twirling, harems pants and trips to Thailand. You noticed each other on the slow boat to Koh Phangan. She was reading The Beach, you had a copy of Shantaram nestled under your arm. Pretty soon she was nestled there while you shared a mushroom shake up on that mountain with all the fluoro pictures of fairies. Unfortunately she also shared something else with you…..

Meet Pubic Lice (Crabs) 

Pubic lice, or crab lice, infest pubic hair. They can also sometimes affect the hair of the armpit, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and torso. The infection is also called pediculosis pubis and the lice are called Phthirus pubis.

Pubic lice are small, flat, light-brown parasites that cling to pubic hair and suck blood for nourishment. Blood sucking from pubic lice can cause small red areas or sores and itching. Pubic lice are usually sexually transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, including sexual activity. However, they can also be spread by contact with towels, undergarments and bedding of an infected person.

Lice infestation causes no serious harm, but can be irritating. If you have pubic lice, it is a good idea to get tested for other sexually transmissible infections.

Symptoms of pubic lice

The main symptom is itching of the affected area. This is often worse at night. Lice and nits (eggs from the lice) can sometimes be seen, especially stuck to the pubic hairs. Some people have no symptoms and may be unaware of the lice infestation.

Diagnosis of pubic lice

Pubic lice are diagnosed by careful inspection of the affected area.

Treatment of pubic lice

Topical creams or lotions containing permethrin (for example, Lyclear cream or Quellada lotion) and applied to the affected area are the most commonly recommended treatment. See your doctor, pharmacist or sexual health centre for further advice.

Permethrin should not be applied to the eyelashes. If this area is affected, discuss an alternative treatment such as petroleum jelly with your doctor.

Treatment tips

Treatment for public lice will be more effective if a few simple guidelines are followed, including:

  • Usually the whole body from neck to toes should be treated, including the perineum (the skin between the vagina and the anus) and the anal area.
  • Read and follow the instructions on the medication carefully.
  • The skin should be cool, clean and dry when the cream is applied.
  • Apply the cream and leave it on overnight. It can be washed off the next morning. You don’t need to apply the cream to head hair.
  • Wash clothing, towels and bedding at the same time as treatment (hot machine washing and drying is sufficient).
  • The treatment should be repeated after one to two weeks as it is not effective against unhatched eggs. Eggs hatch in 6–10 days.
  • Avoid close personal contact until you and your sexual contacts or partner are treated.

Symptoms may take a few days to settle. If you still have symptoms one week after treatment, you should see your doctor for review.

Sexual partners should be treated for pubic lice

Any sexual partners you have had over the last month will need to be examined and treated. Current sexual partners should be treated at the same time that you are. Condoms do not protect you against pubic lice.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Local community health centre

Things to remember

  • Pubic lice are usually sexually transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact.
  • Pubic lice do not voluntarily leave the body and will need to be treated with a cream or lotion that contains permethrin.
  • Do not use insecticides used in the home as these will not work and can damage the skin.
  • Lice infestation causes no serious harm, but it is advisable to be tested for other sexually transmissible infections.

Meet Chanchroid

bondage

 Photosource: http://www.photoree.com/photos/permalink/2564588-17273949@N00

She liked to think of herself as a unique and rare individual, kind of like chanchroid.

Meet Chanchroid… 
Chancroid is a sexually transmissible genital ulcer disease which is rarely seen in Australia. The bacterium that causes chancroid, (Haemophilus ducreyi), is passed from person to person when having anal, oral, or vaginal sex with an infected person. Chancroid is a known risk factor for the transmission of HIV.

What are the symptoms?

After infection, one or more ulcers (sores) develop on the genitals, or around the anus. These ulcers have soft, irregular borders that bleed easily on contact. The ulcers can be very painful in men but women are often unaware of them. Painful lymph glands can occur in the groin, usually only on one side; however, both sides are sometimes affected.
Without treatment the ulcers will increase in size and progressively destroy normal skin. Other bacteria can infect these sores, causing them to become painful and distressing with an unpleasant smell.

How is it spread?

Chancroid is spread by sexual contact. Symptoms usually occur within 4-10 days from exposure to a person infected with chancroid. Symptoms rarely develop earlier than three days or later than 10 days.

Who is at risk?

Chancroid is increasingly disappearing around the world but can still be found in parts of Africa, south west Asia and the Caribbean. There is a close relationship between the occurrence of HIV and the occurrence of chancroid.
Only 8 cases of chancroid have been reported in Australia since 1991. People at risk of chancroid are those who have sex with someone from a country with high rates of the disease.

How is it prevented?

  • Avoid sex with someone who has a visible genital ulcer or sore. If a sexual partner or intended sexual partner has a genital sore or ulcer, advise that person to have a sexual health check
  • Using condoms for vaginal and anal sex significantly reduces the risk of chancroid and other sexually transmitted infections
  • If you are planning to visit or live in a developing country, find out about diseases that occur there and how they are best avoided.

How is it diagnosed?

Because there are a number of causes of genital ulcer disease, the doctor, nurse or health worker will take specimens from the ulcer and collect blood to test for chancroid and other sexually transmitted infections.

How is it treated?

Chancroid is treated with antibiotics. Pain killers may be taken if the ulcers are painful. It is important to complete the course of antibiotics and attend follow-up visits to ensure that the infection has been cured.
If chancroid is not treated, the ulcers will persist and will slowly and progressively get bigger. They can destroy areas of skin and genital tissues and the infected glands can rupture.

 Please note – model does not have chanchroid

Meet Bacterial Vaginosis

Two female joggers on foggy Morro Strand State Beach

The best thing about being a girl who dates girls in that your wardrobe doubles in size, the worst thing is that you’re at higher risk of getting BV than the straighties…..

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by an imbalance of the bacteria normally present in the vagina. In women with BV, the normal healthy bacteria (in particular, lactobacilli) are replaced by an overgrowth of other mixed bacteria.

Bacterial vaginosis has, in the past, been called nonspecific vaginitis or gardnerella vaginitis. This is misleading as it implies that the bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis is the cause of BV. BV is now thought to be a polymicrobial (caused by many different organisms) condition, the exact cause of which is unknown.

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis

Symptoms of BV may include:

  • watery, white or grey discharge instead of normal vaginal secretions
  • a strong or unusual odour from the vagina, often described as a ‘fishy’ odour.

About half of all women with bacterial vaginosis will have no symptoms. Bacterial vaginosis may occur at the same time as other infections or sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

How bacterial vaginosis is spread

Although it is not clear how bacterial vaginosis is transmitted, it is more common in women who are sexually active. It sometimes develops soon after intercourse with a new partner. Women who have female sexual partners may be at higher risk than women who have sex with only male partners.

Research has not conclusively found a link between BV and specific sexual practices or acts. However, recent evidence supports the use of condoms to reduce the risk of this infection.

Diagnosis of BV

Diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms and lab tests. During a medical examination, your doctor may notice:

  • a discharge or odour
  • decreased acidity of the vaginal fluid – this can occur even if you have not noticed any symptoms.

Treatment for BV

If you have no symptoms, treatment is usually not required. You should receive treatment if you:

  • have symptoms or your doctor has noticed signs of bacterial vaginosis
  • are about to have a medical procedure that could allow bacteria into the uterus – for example, insertion of an IUD or termination of pregnancy
  • are pregnant – your obstetrician may need to be consulted about treatment.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial vaginosis

An antibiotic called metronidazole can be used to treat the infection when indicated. If your doctor prescribes metronidazole you will need to:

  • Take the antibiotic twice a day for seven days.
  • Take the tablets after meals – this can reduce the nausea and upset stomach that is sometimes associated with metronidazole.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol during treatment.

Your doctor can prescribe a vaginal cream if you are unable to take metronidazole, such as clindamycin, which is applied to the vagina for seven nights.

Recurrences of BV

Even after treatment, about half of the women with bacterial vaginosis will get the condition back within six to 12 months. This may be due to the treatment not working or to re-infection. Treating the male partner of an infected woman does not seem to reduce the risk of recurrence. Female partners of infected women are at increased risk, so screening for BV and treatment (if required) is recommended.

Prevention of BV

Most cases of bacterial vaginosis appear to be associated with sexual activity. Condoms have been shown to protect against infection and safe sexual practices are recommended for all women, regardless of the gender of their partners.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor

Things to remember

  • Bacterial vaginosis can cause a watery, white or grey vaginal discharge and odour.
  • It may develop soon after sex with a new partner.
  • An antibiotic known as metronidazole is used to treat the infection.

Meet Hep-C

earing woman

Photo source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woman_wearing_earring_in_front_of_mirror.jpg

She was nothing but glamour, all the way down to her pleasure state lingerie. You were definitely punching above your weight. A girl like that wouldn’t be carrying anything, right? 

 

Meet HEP-C

What is it?
Hep C is a contagious liver disease that can range from mild illness to a serious, life-long condition. It can be transmitted sexually, but is most often transmitted through contaminated needles.

How common is it?
An estimated 3.2 million persons are chronically infected with HCV in the United States. There are an estimated an estimated 17,000 new Hepatitis C virus infections each year.

What are the symptoms?
Most HPV infections have no symptoms. Some people may experience illness like fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice, a yellow color to the skin and eyes.

How do you get it?
Hepatitis C is spread when infected blood enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most infections occur through sharing needles or other drug equipment. It can be transmitted sexually, but the risk is not high.

How do you treat it?
There is no medication for acute Hep C, which means a short-term infection, but rest and fluids are prescribed. People with chronic Hep C should be monitored carefully for liver disease and there are several medicines available for treatment.

What are the consequences if left untreated?
Chronic Hepatitis C can result in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death.

Get Yourself Tested
Anyone who has had sex may be at risk for an STD, even when there are no symptoms. Talk to your health care provider about testing.

Can it be prevented?
There is currently no vaccine for Hep C. Risk of the getting Hep C is cut by not injecting drugs, and using condoms every time if you have sex. Abstaining from sex and sexual contact is the surest way to avoid getting an STD.

 

Please note- model does not have hep c 

Meet HIV

batman

Picture source: http://otakuunited.deviantart.com/art/Wonder-Woman-and-Batman-245922865

Here’s a cute pic of you two at Comic-con 2012 where you met! What happens at Comic-con stay at Comic-con. Right? Unless it’s HIV because that’s for life. 

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens the immune system and eventually causes AIDS if left untreated.

How common is it?
About 50,000 new infections occur each year, with an estimated 1.2 million people already living with HIV. 

What are the symptoms?
Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms and feel healthy. Symptoms don’t usually develop until a person’s immune system has been weakened. The symptoms people experience are usually related to infections and cancers they get due to a weakened immune system.

How do you get it?
Through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Also by sharing contaminated needles; and from mother-to-child during pregnancy or breast-feeding. The chance of getting it through kissing is very low.

How do you treat it?
There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. Antiretroviral treatment can slow the progression of HIV disease & delay the onset of AIDS. Early diagnosis & treatment can improve a person’s chances of living a longer, healthier life.

What are the consequences if left untreated?
Increased risk for other life-threatening infections and certain cancers. By weakening the body’s ability to fight disease, HIV makes an infected person more vulnerable to infections that they wouldn’t otherwise get. HIV can also cause infections that anyone can get, such as other STDs and pneumonia, to be much worse. Left untreated, HIV infection develops into AIDS and is a fatal disease.

Get Yourself Tested
Regular HIV testing is recommended for everyone 13-64 years-old. This does not mean though that testing is done automatically, so ask to be tested for HIV. Testing is also recommended for those who have had unprotected sex, a new sex partner, or shared needles or equipment to inject drugs.

Can it be prevented?
There is no vaccine for HIV. Abstaining from sex and sexual contact is the surest way to avoid getting an STD. Using condoms every time greatly reduces the risk of contracting HIV. Get medical treatment immediately if you think you were exposed to HIV. Sometimes, HIV medications can prevent infection if they are started quickly.

 

Please note – models do not have HIV