Let's Talk About Safe Sex

By: RSC Editorial Team

January 1, 2023

How To Prepare for an STD Test: Five Things To Consider

Getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may only seem necessary when you experience lasting symptoms, but many sexually active individuals only notice intermittent symptoms or none at all. Be sure to remain proactive about your sexual health by getting tested regularly, especially if you have many sexual partners, a new partner, or unprotected sex.  

Understandably, you may be anxious or frustrated if you think you need STD testing, but you can take certain steps to prepare for STD test appointments to make the process as hassle-free as possible. 

When Should You Get Tested for STDs?

Anyone experiencing what may be STD symptoms should seek testing to prevent future health complications and avoid passing on the infection. Speak with your healthcare provider or schedule testing with us at Rapid STD Testing if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Abnormal discharge from the penis, vagina, or anus
  • Itching or burning in the penis or vagina
  • A strange odor from the vagina
  • Rashes, bumps, or sores on the genitals
  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pain

You may not need testing if you and your partner have both been tested during a monogamous long-term relationship. Healthcare professionals recommend testing for:

  • People with multiple sexual partners
  • People starting new sexual relationships
  • People whose partners have cheated
  • Pregnant women

Which STD Test Should You Get?

Your doctor can help you determine which STD tests you need. It's essential to be honest about your sexual and medical history, so you may choose to visit a local clinic to discuss your STD testing needs if you feel uncomfortable talking about it with your primary care physician.

At Rapid STD Testing, we offer same-day STD testing at thousands of clinics nationwide. If you want comprehensive testing, you should choose our 10-panel STD test.

Who Should Regularly Get an STD Test?

National guidelines urge people in the following sexually active groups with a higher risk of infection to get screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia infection annually:

  • Women below 25 years of age
  • Women over 25 with other risk factors, such as multiple or new partners
  • Men and women who have HIV
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Transgender women who have sex with men
  • People who share needles for drug injection
  • People who have experienced rape or other nonconsensual sexual activity or intercourse

Other testing recommendations include:

  • Periodic Pap smears for women 21 and older to screen for human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Regular HIV testing for men and women having unprotected sex outside of monogamous relationships
  • Routine testing for common STIs for people with HIV

Five Things You Should Know Before an STD Test

It's understandable if you're frustrated, anxious, or scared about getting tested for STDs, but educating yourself about STD tests can help assuage these feelings. Let's explore five things you need to consider to prepare for an STD test appointment:

1. There's No Need To Be Embarrassed or Stressed

Many people feel severe shame or stress before an STD test, but there's no need to feel this way. STDs are very common; according to the CDC, one in five people in the United States has an STI.

Seeking testing and treatment for STDs should be viewed as a standard part of maintaining sexual health, not a source of embarrassment or anxiety. The more comfortable talking about STDs we can become as a society, the more effectively we can quell the rising rates of infection. 

2. Insurance May Cover Your Tests

If you get STD testing from your regular health care provider, your insurance policy may cover it.

That said, not everyone wants to use their primary care physicians to receive STD testing and treatment because this information will remain in their medical files. Individuals looking for anonymous STD testing should research local clinics. At Rapid STD Testing, we offers same-day STD testing at thousands of clinics across the U.S. Many cities have free or low-cost STD testing clinics that provide anonymous care and discreet results. 

Free STD testing may not suit everybody. Some free clinics struggle to keep up with the high demand in their areas and can't provide fast testing. If you want an STD test sooner rather than later and results within one to two days, consider visiting Rapid STD Testing for a rapid STD test.

3. You May Get Tested With Your Partner(s)

If you suspect you have an STD, you may be avoiding talking to your partner out of shame, embarrassment, or other worries. However, honesty is typically best. You should share positive STD test results with anyone you've had vaginal, anal, or oral sex with within the past six months and encourage them to get tested.

Depending on your relationship, you may want to talk to your partner before testing and suggest getting tested together. Facing potential STDs as a team can help reduce anxiety on both sides. 

4. You Can Eat and Drink Whatever You Want

STD testing is generally easy and hassle-free, with no food or beverage restrictions prior to the testing appointment. If you schedule a urine STD test, however, you should avoid urinating one to two hours before the appointment to ensure a good urine sample. Urine tests detect the STD's DNA in the urine, but peeing before the test can remove it from the urethra, potentially interfering with the results.

5. Immediate Testing May Not Detect New Exposures

If you get tested within days of a sexual encounter, tests may not yet be able to detect an infection. Some STDs have lengthy “window periods” before they become detectable that may last weeks or even several months. Your healthcare provider may recommend you return for follow-up testing after your initial test if you've experienced risk factors recently. 

What To Expect During STD Testing

Many people prepare for STD test appointments by learning about the various STD testing procedures, such as:

  • Urine tests: Doctors can detect many STDs using a urine STD test, which screens a sample of urine.
  • Fluid tests: Your doctor may also collect a fluid sample by swabbing the infected area. 
  • Blood tests: Some infections require an STD blood test for detection or confirmation.
  • Pap tests: During a Pap smear, doctors collect a sample of cervix cells to test for signs of HPV.

Whether your doctor recommends STD blood testing, fluid testing, or urine testing, the process is often fast and hassle-free. Ask the doctor about topical anesthetics if you're nervous about giving a blood sample.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask You

Your physician may ask the following questions:

  • What symptoms are you experiencing, if any?
  • When did your symptoms appear?
  • How long did the symptoms last?
  • Have you been diagnosed with an STD before?
  • How many sexual partners do you currently have?
  • How many sexual partners have you had in the past year?
  • How long have you and your partner been together?
  • Do you have sex with men, women, or both?
  • What kind of sex are you having?
  • Do you have unprotected sex?
  • Do you or a partner use needles to inject drugs?
  • Have you or a partner cheated within the last year?

Where Can You Get Tested for STDs?

You have many options for testing, whether you live in a rural or urban area, including:

  • Your doctor: Your primary physician can help you get the testing you need.
  • Local clinics: Many cities have government-funded clinics offering STD tests.
  • Planned Parenthood: This nonprofit also provides STD testing.
  • Rapid STD Testing: We offer comprehensive STD tests in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

What Happens After the Test?

Even if you prepare for an STD test, you may experience anxiety about the potential of a positive result, but it's important to remember that STDs can be treated and frequently cured.

The length of time you must wait for results will depend on the test and the testing center, so try to be patient and keep a positive mindset. Here are some ideas of what to do while you wait for your test results:

  • Surround yourself with supportive family and friends, and share your fears with someone you trust. Just saying the words out loud can help relieve the anxiety. 
  • Practice relaxation through breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. 
  • Stay active by visiting the gym or going for a run around your neighborhood.
  • Avoid having sex until you get your results back, but you may masturbate in the meantime if you can comfortably do so. Orgasms can be powerful in easing anxiety. 

If you test at one of the 2,500 Rapid STD Testing centers, you'll receive your results in one to two days and be able to view them online. 

Receiving the Results of an STD Test

If you test positive for an STD, you will work with your healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan. Some infections require a simple antibiotic regimen, but other STDs like HIV require lifelong treatment to manage symptoms and prevent transmission to your sexual partners. Your treatment plan may also include education on safe sex practices and contraception.  

Take Control of Your Sexual Health

If you're ready to get tested, order testing panels from Rapid STD Testing or visit one of our testing centers. If you still need to prepare for an STD test, you can learn more about STD testing on our blog. Read this article to learn about having an STI test during your period

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By: RSC Editorial Team
January 1, 2023

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