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STI Testing - What You Should Know

STI Testing - What You Should Know

Who should be tested?

With nearly 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reported annually, and 15–24 year olds accounting for nearly half of that number, it’s not surprising that the Centers for Disease Control recommends routine SID testing for all sexually active men and women under age 25 who are not in a monogamous long-term relationship. But what about everyone else?

If you’re wondering whether you and your partner need to be tested for STIs…if you think you may have been exposed to an STI…if you are pregnant…if you use IV drugs…or if you just want to play it safe… getting the facts on STI testing is a good place to start.

Know before you go

  1. Not all doctors test for the same STIs.
  2. Some STIs can’t be tested for.
  3. There is no single test for every sexually transmitted disease.
  4. Many STIs have no signs or symptoms.
  5. STI testing will only be done if you request it. It is not a routine part of a woman’s gynecological exam or a man’s annual physical.
  6. Getting an STI test is easy.

Will it hurt?

STI testing should not be painful, but may involve any of the following procedures:

  • Physical exam—typically includes the visual inspection of your genitals and/or anus for a rash, discharge, sores, warts or other signs of infection
  • Blood sample—may be drawn with a needle or collected by pricking your finger
  • Urine sample—usually collected in a sterile cup
  • Discharge, tissue, cell or saliva samples—a small specimen taken with a swab and later examined under a microscope

Some STIs are easily diagnosed by their symptoms or during a physical exam. Others may require that samples be drawn. If samples are collected and lab work is needed, you’ll probably be asked to call your doctor in a few days for the results and to see about treatment.

What to expect

Remember, it’s easy to get an STI test. For more information, contact your student health center, your private health care provider, your local Planned Parenthood center or the heath department in your area.

If you think you might need an STI test, the chart below, excerpted from the Planned Parenthood STI Quick Reference Guide, describes the type of tests you can expect.

Type of Test How it’s performed
  • Blood test
  • Oral swab
Bacterial vaginosis
(affects only women)
  • Pelvic exam
  • Test of vaginal discharge
  • Physical exam
  • Test of discharge
  • Blood test
Genital warts
  • Physical exam,
    sometimes using a tool
    called a colposcope
  • Test of discharge
  • Test of cell sample
  • Urine test
Hepatitis B
  • Blood test
  • Blood test
  • Test of fluid from sore
  • Cell samples (Pap
    smear; women only)
Pelvic Inflammatory
Disease (affects only
  • Pelvic exam
  • Blood test
  • Test of discharge
  • Laparoscopic exam
  • Blood test
  • Test of fluid from sore

To see the complete STI Quick Reference guide, go to: – howdone

To see recommendations on who should be tested, go to: