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Do You Need an STI Test? Find Out Which One to Take

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have different symptoms. An STI test will enable you to identify the condition and get the right treatment.

Woman smiling at a man who’s biting a blanket while looking at her as they sit up in bed 

Did you know that more than a million people develop sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) daily? If you notice anything amiss after a sexual encounter, you should get an STI test done as soon as possible.

STIs affect your sexual and reproductive health. If you catch an STI, there is a higher risk of developing complications such as infertility, pregnancy complications, cancer, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) onset. 

Take the quiz below to help determine if you’ve developed an STI and the next steps to treat or manage the condition.

Ready to Discover the Results of This STI Test? 

Recognising the STI that relates to your symptoms is an important first step in getting properly treated. Let’s find out what your answers suggest.

If you answered ‘Yes’ to questions 1 and 2 

Physician tying a band on a woman’s arm as they sit at a table
A blood test is a reliable way to diagnose a herpes infection.

It’s possible that you’ve developed a genital herpes infection. Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT) and blood tests are the most reliable options for diagnosing the condition. 

Blood tests can help identify IgG antibodies, which appear after infection and stays in your blood permanently. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a NAAT that tells if you’re infected with type 1 or 2 herpes simplex virus (HSV). It’s also used to diagnose a COVID-19 infection.

The symptoms of genital herpes usually clear up on their own. You can take several steps to support the healing of an affected area. These include: 

  • Cleaning with salt water to keep the blisters from infection 
  • Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth 
  • Applying petroleum jelly or a pain-killing cream (5% lidocaine) 
  • Washing your hands before and after you apply the cream or jelly 
  • Pouring water over your genitals while you urinate 

You can relieve pain in an affected area. Antiviral medications taken within five days of infection will help calm genital herpes symptoms.

If you answered ‘Yes’ to questions 1 and 3 

You’ve likely come into contact with the human papillomavirus (HPV). A healthcare provider will examine your body for warts to diagnose the condition. 

A pap smear may be recommended to detect the presence of cancerous or pre-cancerous cells. Be mindful that the virus changes cells in the cervix, increasing the chances of cancer. 

Healthcare providers can also use colposcopy to diagnose cervical cancer. A lighted instrument will be utilised to magnify the cervix and enable the removal of abnormal cells. These cells will then be tested for signs of cancer or pre-cancer.

It’s impossible to treat HPV directly, but possible to prevent its onset. Getting the HPV vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against infection. The use of latex condoms or dental dams stops the mouth from coming into contact with the penis, vagina, or anus. 

To get rid of warts and remove abnormal cells in the cervix, you can use the following: 

  • Cryosurgery 
  • Electrocautery 
  • Laser therapy 
  • Prescription cream  
  • Trichloroacetic acid 
  • Cold knife cone biopsy 

If you answered ‘Yes’ to questions 1 and 4

Woman holding a condom as a shirtless man sits up in bed while supporting his head with his left hand
Condoms can help lower but not eliminate a person’s risk of developing a syphilis infection. 

Syphilis is the most likely reason behind your pain and discomfort. Two tests can help discover if you have antibodies associated with the STI. These are a Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) test and a Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test. 

The former requires a blood sample from a vein in your arm while the latter involves the extraction of cerebrospinal fluid from the space in-between two spinal vertebrae.

If these tests show that you have antibodies that fight syphilis, you may be asked to undergo further tests to confirm a diagnosis.

Early intervention using prescription antibiotics can cure the condition. Latex condoms significantly decrease risk but won’t guarantee you’re free from a future syphilis infection.

If you answered ‘Yes’ to questions 1 and 5 

It’s almost certain that you have chlamydia. Testing a urine sample and fluid swabs from the urethra, vagina, and rectum can help diagnose the condition.

A healthcare provider will provide antibiotics to treat chlamydia. These can be prescribed as a one-time dose or a medication that needs to be taken daily for seven days. Like HPV and syphilis, latex condoms may help lower but not eliminate the risk of the condition’s onset.

If you answered ‘Yes’ to questions 1 and 6 

All signs point to hepatitis B onset. A healthcare provider will use three methods to certify that you’ve been infected. These are blood tests, a liver biopsy, and an abdominal liver ultrasound.

Acute infections generally resolve with rest, proper hydration, and the consumption of healthy meals. Chronic infections will see you using medications to slow the virus’s ability to multiply in your body, thus suppressing swelling and liver damage. 

If you answered ‘Yes’ to questions 1 and 7 

There’s a high chance that you’ve got a gonorrhoea infection. A healthcare provider can adopt the NAAT method to affirm a diagnosis. A urine sample or urethral, endocervical, or vaginal specimens are needed for the test. 

The common treatment recommendation is a single dose of 500mg of intramuscular Ceftriaxone. If you have a chlamydia co-infection, a healthcare provider may propose using an oral medication called doxycycline to take twice daily for seven days. 

The Benefits of an Alternative Approach to the Treatment of STIs  

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s believed that STIs originate from external factors. 

“Genital infections are often caused by infectious pathogenic Fire and Dampness. The system of medicine will not only be used to alleviate the symptoms of your specific condition. It’ll also focus on eliminating pathogens, healing wounds, and strengthening your immune system,” explains Real Health Medical’s Senior Physician Brandon Yew.

Some of the herbal formulas that can complement the clinical treatment of different STIs include: 

  • Long Dan Xie Gan Tang (龙胆泻肝汤) 
  • Si Miao Tang (四妙汤) 
  • Bi Xie Shen Shi Tang (萆薢渗湿汤) 

Similarly, you can also stimulate a few acupoints, such as: 

  • Qu chi (LI11, 曲池) 
  • Xing jian (LR2, 行间) 
  • Ji mai (LR12, 急脈) 
  • Xue hai (SP10, 血海) 
  • Guan yuan (CVRN4, 关元) 
  • Qi hai (CVRN6, 气海) 

Combining clinical and traditional remedies can ease the pain and discomfort associated with an STI. Speak to a licensed TCM practitioner to learn if potential contraindications may occur and avoid self-medicating.

Physician Yew advises, “STDs are highly infectious, no matter how strong the immunity a person possesses. The best prevention is to avoid promiscuity and have protected sex. If your partner is infected, avoid sex completely until he or she has recovered.”

If you find this STI test useful, share it with your sexually active friends!

References

  1. World Health Organization. 2022. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  2. American Sexual Health Association. Diagnosing Herpes. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  3.  National Health Service. Genital herpes. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  4. Cleveland Clinic. HPV. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  5. MedlinePlus. Syphilis Tests. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  6. MedlinePlus. Syphilis. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  7. MedlinePlus. Chlamydia Test. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  8. MedlinePlus. Chlamydia Infections. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  9. Cleveland Clinic. Hepatitis B. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gonorrhea – CDC Detailed Fact Sheet. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 
  11. Cleveland Clinic. Gonorrhea. [online] [Accessed 26 September 2022] 

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