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!

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.

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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.