STI stands for “Sexually Transmitted Infections.” Typically, these infections are passed from person to person. The spread of these infections happens when people engage in unprotected sexual activities. STI has also been known as STD, “Sexual Transmitted Diseases.” However, medical officers have decided to call them infections because these rarely have any symptoms, unlike when diagnosed with a disease.
If you happen to be sexually active and have multiple partners with whom you are engaging, you must get tested beforehand. Though these infections advance through vaginal, oral or anal sex, sexually transmitted infections can also spread through other mediums such as blood. Despite having life-threatening consequences, some people are left untreated due to sexually transmitted infections being taboo in society. Unfortunately, STIs are not new and have been around ever since humans have existed on the planet. Nevertheless, the good part about this horrible situation is that these fatal infections can be treated if reported early. Thus, in this article, we will explore some different types of sexually transmitted diseases, ways to prevent them, and how the testing process occurs.
Types of Sexually Transmitted Infections
Before we discover and get to know more about the testing process of sexually transmitted infections, we must understand the various types of these infections.
Chlamydia is a common STI infection caused by certain bacteria. It doesn’t create any symptoms but can lead to numerous complications such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease in women. If symptoms appear, it can be a pain in the lower region or a green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis. However, the bright side to Chlamydia is that it is treatable due to its bacterial nature. There is an array of antibiotics that can cure this infection. Some of them are Azithromycin and Doxycycline. No matter what medication is prescribed, you must always consult a doctor before in-taking any medication. Self-medication is never a good idea. You must also refrain from engaging in sex while being on your treatment plan.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Human Papillomavirus is a virus that, apart from sexual activity, can even pass from one person to another through skin contact. This virus has different strains that are quite dangerous. There are approximately 100 types of HPV, and 40 of them can attack you due to unprotected sexual activity.
HPV can fade away in a few years, but it can create numerous health problems if it doesn’t. The typical symptom of HPV is genital warts around the genitals, throat and mouth. This virus can also have its strains transition into several cancers.
There is no treatment available for HPV. However, vaccines are available for HPV 16 and 18.
Gonorrhoea is another bacterial infection that attacks the rectum, throat and urethra. In the case of females, gonorrhoea can also affect the cervix too. Like the other infections mentioned, gonorrhoea also doesn’t display any symptoms.
Some of the symptoms that get noticed are frequent urination and increased vaginal discharge. In men, there is a pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis. More include pelvic/abdominal pain, pain during sex and itching around the genital area. Antibiotics can be used to treat gonorrhoea. It can pass from a mother to child during childbirth. Hence, mothers are advised to have themselves tested to remain protected.
STI Testing and its Types
Early detection can prevent STI rates from increasing, but the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases stops people (especially under the age of 25) from getting tested. There are different kinds of tests conducted, but you must keep the following in mind. You should consider getting tested if you are starting a new relationship, you and your partner have multiple people you’re engaging with, and you haven’t been tested in a long time.
Some common types of tests are stated below:
Blood and Urine Tests
Blood and urine tests are quite painless and don’t take much of your time. However, a blood test isn’t the best option in some cases. In infections such as HPV, the virus appears a month after being exposed.
Therefore, if you suspect you have contracted HPV, you might have to go a few times for it to reveal. Some STIs that have urine or blood tests are Chlamydia, HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis. Blood and urine tests do take some time for the results to come.
A Pap smear test is a method of cervical screening that looks for any abnormal or cancerous cells in the cervix or colon. It is extremely helpful to indicate the earliest signs of cervical cancers. If you wish to get tested for HPV, don’t forget to mention it to your doctor. Pap smears don’t usually hurt; however, you must talk to your doctor beforehand to avoid complications.
Some doctors prefer the use of swabs when it comes to taking samples. Doctors or physicians use a cotton applicator to take cervical or vaginal swabs. Swabs are taken usually in a pelvic exam. Regardless of your gender, a doctor can take urethral swabs as well. Aside from slight pain, it is a quick and time-saving process.
Some STIs, such as genital warts, can be helped through a combination of physical exams and some other tests.
In a physical exam, the doctor may look for bumps and sores around the genital area. If you happen to be engaging in anal sex, you must tell them if you notice any anus or rectum area changes. You must know that the doctor will try his best to ensure that you don’t feel any discomfort or pain during the process.
If you happen to test positive for the STIs mentioned or any other, it would be best not to let your emotions get the best of you. You might feel angry and ashamed at the moment, but remember that you saved your life with this initiative.
Once you have tested positive, you must talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional to develop a treatment plan immediately. It would be helpful for your other partner or partners (if more than one) to get tested too as soon as possible and save their lives. The bottom line is that if you are sexually active, then you must take all prevention precautions to avoid getting infected with any of the STIs, for example; wearing condoms, not having a large number of people you are engaging with, and getting tested before you indulge in any sexual activity or start a relationship. Remember that it is better to get tested than suffer from severe/lifetime complications.