Should you take a home STD test? If you're reading this article, you're probably considering it.

Some of the questions you need to ask yourself include:

  • Are you sexually active?
  • Have you had unprotected sex?
  • Are you entering a new romantic relationship?
  • Has a previous partner notified you that they have a sexually transmitted disease?

If you are answering yes to any of these questions, then the answer is yes, you should take an STD test.

In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about STDs, answering the ultimate question: Should you take a home STD test?

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Dr. Dominic Rowley is a Genito-Urinary Specialist & Medical Director for LetsGetChecked


Contents



What Is An STD?


STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. STDs are most commonly contracted through sexual contact, via semen, blood and other bodily fluids.

STDs, however, may also be passed through child birth, intravenous drug use, exposure in a clinical environment and via intimate physical contact that may not include penetrative sex.

  • Often, sexually transmitted diseases are asymptomatic, infact 80% of STDs are known to be symptomless.

  • STDs are the infections and resulting clinical syndromes caused by approximately 30 infectious organisms.

  • The lastest statistics, as published by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, saw 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017. This number illustrates an increased incidence rate in the last four consecutive years of STDs.

Today, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease worldwide, however, chlamydia is the most widely reported STD globally.

STDs can be caused by bacteria, parasites and viruses. Some of the most common causes of STDs include:

Bacterial STDs

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Gardnerella
  • Ureaplasma
  • Mycoplasma

Parastic STDs

  • Trichomoniasis

Viral STDS

  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
  • Herpes
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis

What Symptoms Are Associated With STDs?


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As the majority of sexually transmitted diseases are symptomless, it is so important to test your sexual health on a regular basis, especially as STDs may remain dormant for years, within your body or your partner’s body.

Attain Fertility estimate that 100,000 women suffer from infertility by cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) each year. PID is a common side effect of chlamydia that may have been dormant over an extended period of time.

You should wait a minimum of 3 weeks from the time of unprotected sexual contact before taking a test as STDs can take a period of time to become reactive.

If you want to take a test for Hepatitis, the infection may not become reactive for 90 days. If you do experience symptoms, it is unlikely that they will become apparent until 14 days after the sexual encounter.

In the event that you are feeling too unwell to wait, go to your physician's office immediately.

Here are some common symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases you should consider before you get tested:


STD Symptoms In Men


  • Blisters, spots, sores or bumps on or around the penis, anus or mouth
  • Discharge: clear, white or yellow
  • Itching and dryness at the tip of the penis
  • Itching and dryness around the anus
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Difficulty ejaculating
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore throat (following oral sex)

STD Symptoms In Women


  • Blisters, spots, sores or bumps on or around the vagina, anus or mouth
  • Discharge: clear, white, yellow or green
  • Change in the appearance and consistency of vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal itching
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Ulcers on the vagina
  • Non menstrual bleeding from the vagina, or irregular spotting between periods
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore throat (following oral sex)

Where Are STDs Most Common?


Studies suggest that there is a connection between the level of sex education in schools, sexual health management and the incidence rate of sexually transmitted diseases.

The latest statistics, as quoted by the CDC illustrate that there is a correlation between sex education and STDs.

In U.S. states where there is large scale, informative sexual health education in schools, there is a lower rate of sexually transmitted diseases. The opposite can be said for states where sex education lacks conformity or is low volume.

where-are-stds-most-common-by-sex-education-laws-in-the-u.s.

It's important to understand however, that these studies don't fully explain why there is a greater number of STDs in some geographics than others, it acts as a good explanation and case study for why there has been a movement towards creating better sex education, and a wider scope and acceptance for a more open conversation around sexual health and sexuality.

Looking at the bigger picture, other factors that may contribute to why STDs are higher in some states could include access to testing, upbringing, socio-economic status and the use of "hook-up apps" such as Tinder and Grindr.

Often, we read about someone's increased likelihood of contracting an STD being closely linked to "risky sexual behaviours."

"Risky sexual behaviours" are described by Mayo Clinic as

  • Having multiple partners
  • Co-partnering with someone who has multiple partners
  • Attending chem sex parties
  • Using intravenous drugs
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Having a history of STDs

Where are sexually transmitted diseases most common?

heatmap-showing-the-largest-rate-of-stds

Latest data obtained from the Centers Of Disease Control & Prevention 2016

As of 2016, U.S. states with the highest incidence rate of sexually transmitted diseases included Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississsippi and New Mexico.

The lowest incidence rate per state in 2017 was New Hampshire with 18.5 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 residents and 233.3 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 people.

To learn more about this study and the reasoning behind varying STD rates, you can read our article: U.S. States With High STD Rates Have One Thing In Common.


In this video, I explain at home std testing:



Are You At Risk Of Contracting An STD?


We don't want to scare you, but if you are having sex, you are at risk of contracting an STD.

58% of all single U.S. adults have had a one night stand at least once in their life according to Statista, with a further 47% of the global population reporting that they have had unprotected sex at least once in their life.

Put simply, if you implement methods to to protect yourself, you lower your risk. The best form of protection you can use are condoms.

If that fails, which sometimes it does, and you are worried that you may have a sexually transmitted disease, be assured by the fact that most are treatable if you get screened as early as possible after unprotected sex. This is where the importance of making your sexual health screening as much of a priortiy as other aspects of your health comes in.

Whether you are in a monogamous relationship or a casual relationship, you should be getting screened once a year as part of your yearly check in.

If the results do come back positive, know that, the majority of STDs can be treated using antibiotics via oral medication or tablets.

To avoid this altogether, I cannot emphasize enough that you should ensure you practice safe sex and get tested on a regular basis to protect yours and your partner(s) sexual health.


You can not escape what age you are, and for the younger generations, the likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted disease is higher. Let's take a look at where other age groups rank.

number-of-stds-per-age-group

Latest data obtained from the Centers Of Disease Control & Prevention 2016

According to this graph, you are most likely to catch a sexually transmitted disease between the ages of 15 and 24 if you are female and 20-29 if you are male.


What puts you at a greater risk of catching an STD?


Being aware of what puts you at greater risk to contract a sexually transmitted disease will better your chances of avoiding one.

Let's take a quick look at some elements that might put you at risk:

  • You are at greater risk if you have vaginal or anal sex without using a condom.
  • You partake in intravenous drug use.
  • You work around blood transfusions in a clinical setting.
  • You have unprotected sex with multiple/casual partners.
  • You are between the age of 15-24 years of age.
  • You have been engaging in "risky sexual behaviour" as detailed above.

Can You Test Yourself For STDs At Home?


New technologies have made it possible to test yourself for STDs at home. LetsGetChecked offer a full suite of testing options that offer everything from a basic check up to a fully insightful screening.

Now, you might be asking, how can I carry out a test that I would usually expect to take at my doctors? That is a fair question.

It is now possible to take a capillary sample at home which will offer the same quality results, as you would expect in a physician's office. A capillary sample requires just a small prick of the finger. It is a lot less painful and a lot more convenient than venous samples (blood taken from a vein in your arm with a syringe).

LetsGetChecked have carved a pathway from the delivery of the test to your door to the delivery of your test to the same laboratories that we use as doctors, meaning that now you can test yourself for STDs at home.

Capillary blood samples and venous samples are not identical types of blood, however it has been found that both samplesyield quality results if taken correctly.

Therefore, if for any reason you would prefer to test yourself for stds at home, as opposed to in a physician's office, you now have the ability to do so, just as accurately as you would in a physician's or doctor's office.


Check Out Our Feature About At Home STD Testing In Bloomberg’s TicToc News



Should You Take An STD Test?


Pu simply, you should regularly test your sexual health if you are having sex.

Here is a list of instances that require particular monitoring:

  • You become sexually active

Whether you have just become sexually active or you have been having sex for years. You should get checked regularly. Sexually transmitted diseases are not contracted just through sexual penetration, they may also be passed on through intimate contact or oral sex.

  • You have had unprotected sex

If you had unplanned or unprotected sex, do not beat yourself up, these things happen. However, it is important that you get tested in the 30 days following this encounter. Even if you know the person well, it is possible that they don't know their own sexual health either. The only way to know it is to get tested.

  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease

Although symptoms associated with sexually transmitted diseases are rare, they may present themselves in 20% of the time. If you notice lumps and bumps that are not associated with hair removal, smell something that doesn't seem quite right, experience pain during sex or any other signs as included in the list above, it's time to get tested.

  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship

You might think it's killing the mood to bring up getting tested for STDs when you start seeing someone, however, if you are planning on solely using oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, it's important that both parties get tested before you decide to stop using condoms. It is recommended that condoms are always used, but it's not always realistic. For tips on how to start the getting tested conversation, read: Lets Talk About Sex: In A Relationship.

  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they have an STD.

First things first, try not to panic. STDs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable. If you have received notification from a previous partner that they have a sexually transmitted disease, you should get tested straight away. Try not to panic and know that most STDs may be cleared in a short period of time with a course of antibiotics.


Can You Buy An At Home STD Test?


You can buy an at home STD test and expect to have the full testing process carried out within one week.

LetsGetChecked ensure that you will receive your results with 2-5 days of your samples reaching our accredited laboratories.


Our home STD test options include:


The Simple 2


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What does the Simple 2 test for?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea

The Standard 5


can-you-buy-an-at-home-std-test-pictuure-of-standard-5

What does the Standard 5 test for?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis

The Complete 10


can-you-buy-an-at-home-std-test-pictuure-of-complete-10

What does the Complete 10 test for?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gardnerella
  • Mycoplasma
  • Ureaplasma
  • Herpes Simplex I
  • Herpes Simplex II
  • HIV
  • Syphilis

U.S. Medical Director Dr. Robert Mordkin Tells You Everything You Need To Know About Taking A Test A Home STD Test



The LetsGetChecked Complete STD Test Explained


If you suspect that you have a sexually transmitted disease, we recommend that you undergo a full screening.

The LetsGetChecked Complete 10 Test also screens for bacterial infections that are not commonly investigated in a physician's office including mycoplasma, ureaplasma and gardnerella. Contracting this bacteria means that there is a higher chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

Mycoplasma, ureaplasma and gardnerella also often mimic the symptoms of classified sexually transmitted diseases which is why it is so important to test test for them.

The Complete 10 screens both the blood and urine. It is recommended that customers take the test in the morning and fasted to ensure accurate results.

You can simply order your test at www.letsgetchecked.com receive your test in discreet packaging within a few days, self-collect your sample and receive confidential support and guidance from the LetsGetChecked medical team.


Watch this video to see how simple the LetsGetChecked testing process is:


Collecting your Finger Prick and Urine Sample from LetsGetChecked on Vimeo.


I hope that this article has helped you in answering the question: "Should you take an at home std test?"

If you are concerned, worried or still have questions but don't feel ready to speak to someone face to face, you can reach out to our medical team, who will offer you support and guidance at every step of the way.


Read: At Home STD Testing: What You Need To Know Before You Pick A Test


Written by Dr. Dominic Rowley | Edited by Hannah Kingston