How Do Men Get Tested for STDs?
If you are a male who has recently had unprotected sex or taken part in risky sexual behavior, you may be wondering how to get tested for an STD. This is a great question and is the first step in taking control over your sexual health. Read on to find out the testing methods for the most common STDs found in men.
Get The Facts About Men And STDs
At any given time there are about 50 million men living with an STD in the United States, many of who are unaware of their condition due to the absence of signs and symptoms. This makes the STD testing process particularly tricky for men, as they often do not know they are infected and need to be treated. If a male does show signs and symptoms of an STD, then the type of test needed to cure the STD is dependent on the type of infection being tested for. The main three testing methods are; urine sample, body fluid sample, and/or blood sample. The turn around time for results depends on the infection being tested for.
Some of the most severe STDs do not show any signs or symptoms, yet put a person at risk of severe illness and spreading their infection. Whether you are experiencing symptoms or not, if you are a sexually active male with multiple sex partners or if you are unsure about your sexual health, it is always a good idea to get routine STD screenings every 3 to 6 months.
The First Step Towards Getting Tested
Speak up! Many men may assume that a simple visit to your doctor for a physical exam is enough to detect an STD– it is not. Doctors do not automatically test for STDs unless the patient makes it known that they are unsure about their sexual health.
Talk to your doctor about your concerns and tell him or her that you would like to be tested. You will be asked a series of routine questions to determine which STD test is right for you– always answers these questions honestly. This is not the time to hold anything back. If you are experiencing symptoms, say what they are and how they feel. The more open and honest you are about your sexual history and symptoms, the better chance you have of getting the correct testing and your health under control.
If you would rather not have this conversation with your doctor, you can order an STD testing panel online. Once you’ve ordered the tests, you only need to make a quick trip to a local STD testing center. You don’t need to make an appointment and you can be in and out quickly and get your results back in only a few days.
How Do Men Get Tested For Gonorrhea And Chlamydia?
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are two of the STDs mentioned earlier that do not always cause signs of infection. Symptoms or not, a simple urine or body fluid sample should do the trick. With some caveats, that is. This test is meant to seek out the DNA of specific STDs, and is very accurate in doing so if the DNA is present in your system. If a person is tested within what is called the “window period,” the DNA may not yet be present, and a test may come back negative when the person is indeed infected. One way to avoid this inaccuracy is by getting tested twice. The first test can be taken 1–2 weeks after exposure and the second 90 days after possible exposure.
In order to prepare for a gonorrhea or chlamydia test, you should not urinate 2 hours prior to giving a urine sample. If your doctor needs to gather the specimen from a specific orifice, he or she will use a cotton swab to gather fluids from the urethra, rectum or eye, depending on the area of transmission. The urine or body fluid will then be sent to a lab for testing.
Syphilis Testing In Men
Unlike gonorrhea and chlamydia, syphilis is not treated with a urine test. If a male does experience symptoms in the early stage of syphilis, then a doctor will collect a body fluid sample such as discharge from the penis or open sore. This sample will then be sent to a lab to be tested for the syphilis bacteria.
If a male does not experience symptoms in the early stage of syphilis, this does not mean he is not infected. Like many other STDs, syphilis can fly under the radar in its early stage and sneak up in later stages when the infection is more advanced and harmful. In the later stages of syphilis a doctor will collect a blood sample to check if the infection is present. If the test comes back positive, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to clear the infection.
If syphilis remains untreated, it is possible that it will advance into the tertiary stage, where the infection can spread through the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body. This phase can lead to heart problems, neurological issues, blindness, paralysis and even death.
If you have or think you may have syphilis, refrain from any sexual activity until you have a clean bill of health. Learn more about syphilis testing →
Herpes Testing In Men
There are two types of the herpes virus, oral herpes (HSV–1) and genital herpes (HSV–2). The tests are typically performed on sores that appear around the mouth or in the genital area to detect if the herpes virus is causing the breakout of sores and, if so, which herpes virus it is. A doctor performs this test by rubbing a cotton swab against a sore to collect cells for examination. Be prepared for mild discomfort or pain during this process.
If sores are not present, a doctor can also test for herpes using a blood sample. The testing method for this is similar to most other blood samples.
It is important to note that a negative test result does not mean a person is not infected. There are a few factors that can affect the accuracy of the herpes tests, and so, a test should be done twice to confirm the results are accurate. The first test should be taken 1–2 weeks after exposure, and the second test should be taken 90 days after exposure. The reasons for inaccurate test results include:
- Testing blood before the virus is detectable in your system (known as the window period)
- Testing from an old or crusted sore that has almost healed
- You have taken antiviral medication that can counteract the test
Herpes cannot be cured. If you test positive for herpes the virus will stay in your body for life. Some may experience frequent and severe breakouts, while others may not experience any symptoms. If you are experiencing an outbreak, have come in contact with someone you know has herpes, or have taken part in risky sexual behavior, then it is possible that you are infected with herpes. The only way to know is to get tested. Learn more about herpes testing →
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Testing In Men
HIV testing is done on a blood sample and detects whether or not a person is HIV–positive or HIV–negative. If a person tests HIV–positive, this means the virus has infected their white blood cells, which are used to fight off infections.
No test preparation is needed. The only thing you need to do is contact your doctor to perform the needed tests or order the testing yourself online. Most physicians offer counseling before and after the test to discuss:
- How the test is done
- How long it will take for results
- What positive results mean
- Future testing that needs to be done
- What you can expect for your future
- How HIV is related to AIDS
- How to keep HIV under control
The window period for HIV antibodies to appear in one’s system is anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months after infection. During this period a person is still highly contagious. If you think you may be infected with HIV, you should refrain from sexual contact until you have tested HIV–negative at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after exposure. Learn more about HIV testing →