Last Updated on July 29, 2021 by Stacy Sampson, DO
My STI Testing Experience
Today I went to get tested for STIs!
You might be asking yourself, “Why would she get STI testing – she already knows she has an STI (I have genital herpes – you can read my story here) and has had other STIs (HPV, scabies and vaginitis)- wouldn’t she have gotten tested then?” The answer is: actually, I have not been tested for any other STI (that I can remember) – most often, practitioners test patients for STIs when they have related symptoms and one would have to ask to be tested for the gamut of other STIs should they think they are at risk.
Anyway, I’ve been doing a plethora of research in support of The STI Project and am learning so much more about STIs than I was previously aware.
I wasn’t aware chlamydia is commonly missed (ie. there are rarely symptoms in people with vulvas/vaginas, and when left untreated, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility – for all genders, and a slew of other undesirable outcomes). HIV often goes without signs for up to 10 years. Gonorrhea can also go unnoticed – especially in people with vulvas/vaginas (generally, there’s a noticeable discharge when gonorrhea occurs in people with penises) – and can have similar negative effects when left untreated as with chlamydia: pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, etc. Finally, syphilis can also go without symptoms and can lead to more serious illnesses as well.
So, today I chose to try out STI testing (the aforementioned chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhea, and syphilis) administered by the local county health department (they were free – yes, free!!! Go! Get tested as fast as you can!!!!! It’s free!!!).
My partner came along and got tested as well for good measure – the nurses at the health department thought we were awesome – if they would have had “you’ve been responsible lollipops” to hand out to us, I’m certain we would have gotten two of them. (The adult version of “you’ve been responsible lollipops” was our pick of their condom assortment! YES! Free condoms!!!)
And lucky you, I get to share my STI test experience here for everyone! (This is The STI Project, after-all!)
The outcome of this post should be nothing short of everyone running to their nearest health clinic screaming, “Test me, test me, I had no idea it was this easy!!!”
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Are you wondering what is it like to get STI testing done?
Step One: Decide whether to schedule an appointment or go on a “walk-in” day (wait is usually much longer, so patience is a virtue should you choose the latter) – I made an appointment as I have little patience.
Step Two: Fill out some paperwork (this is the government we’re talking about) – HIV testing is the only test they can do completely anonymously (if they do rapid-tests onsite) where they do not require a name (they give you a number) or a lot of other information – this health department did their HIV tests on-site (which means results in 15 minutes), but I was also testing for 3 other STIs, so the paperwork was still required.
For those clinics that do not have rapid-tests, HIV tests will only be confidential. Confidential testing means you must fill out your name and birthday and answer questions about your sexual experiences. This DOES NOT mean they will call your parents or your partners and tell them your test results – test results are strictly confidential. The health department asks that you tell all future partners but does not make you retro-actively tell people, because, presumably, you wouldn’t have known you were positive for an STI until now.
Also, it is very important you answer the questionnaire with complete honesty – depending on the type of sexual activities in which you engage, they may do STI testing for additional types of STIs or they may test different areas of your body for STIs – chlamydia and gonorrhea can both be in the throat or anus, for example.
Lastly, the person my partner and I met made no assumptions or judgments about the types of activities we enjoy – they simply share the risks and make sure you’re feeling as safe as possible in all directions (your mind is whirling now, I’m sure).
Step Three: When your name gets called, a nurse takes you back, asks some additional questions, sometimes does a little preventative counseling and starts the tests by giving you a finger prick.
The finger prick begins the rapid blood test for HIV which is complete 15 minutes later.
Next, a traditional blood sample is taken from your arm for syphilis testing. The syphilis test is sent to a lab and results are available 7 business days later along with your chlamydia and gonorrhea test results.
Step Four: Pee on your hand while attempting to pee into an impossibly small cup for chlamydia and gonorrhea testing (you do this in a private bathroom, so no one has to watch you wonder whether to pull up your pants with pee on your fingers or waddle over to the sink for washing – pants still at your ankles).
Important to note: the longer you hold your pee, the better – anything over “not having urinated in an hour” should be good.
The nurse said chlamydia and gonorrhea bacteria flush out and are harder to detect when having urinated recently; however, after a longer duration of time, they come back again.
Unfortunately, peeing profusely will not make an STI go away. Dang it!
Step Five: Meet the nurse back in the testing room, get your HIV results, and your FREE CONDOMS!!!! YEY!!!
Who doesn’t love free condoms?!?!
I say, you might as well go get STI tested just for the free condoms!!! (I’ll say anything – obviously – to convince you STI testing is totally harmless and will make you feel empowered!)
- How to Not Give an Eff about Having an STI
- All about Herpes Disclosure
- Think You Might Have an STI/STD?
- Information about STI Testing
- Observations from an STI/STD Testing Counselor
- Excited about STI testing and want to find an STI/STD testing center near you?
- STI Vaccines
- Want to learn more about the different types of STIs I’ve mentioned in this post?
- At-Home STI Testing
- Tested positive for an STI/STD and need more resources?
- Normal Genital Spots Mistaken for an STI
That’s a nice post.
Thank you! 🙂
This is fab! i will be getting std/sti testing at my school Monday. We finally got the health department to see the stats on STDs on my campus so its totally free and treatment is as well. but anyways this has calmed me a little from being so nervous.
Yeah, testing can be nerve-racking, that’s for sure. I’m so happy to hear this was helpful and that your campus is doing free testing – how awesome; I wish more universities did this!
Feel free to come back and let us know how your experience was different or if it was similar/good/bad/otherwise!
I’m kinda nervous to go… I’m only 18 and I don’t my parents to be wondering where I am while I’m there..
Hi there ..
Your concern is totally understandable – a lot of people avoid going for similar reasons. If you make an appointment, you will likely be gone for less time as opposed to just going on a walk-in day. You could always make plans – go shopping, hunting, [insert whatever would be a normal thing for you to be out and about doing], etc., and then stop by a clinic (during your appointment time) while you’re doing whatever else.
As an 18 year old, you’re an adult now and it’s up to you how much detail you want to divulge. Keep in mind, as awkward as it may be to go, the potential consequences of not finding out right away can be even more awkward. Part of being an 18 year old and a responsible adult is also being responsible for your sexual health – lucky you. Sorry for the lecture; these are probably obvious things to you, but I have to reiterate them, just in case. 🙂
Luckily, a lot of the clinics handle multiple kinds of things; so, people don’t know exactly why you’re there. In the case of clinics that just do testing, if there are other people in the waiting room, they’re all there for the same reason and feeling incredibly awkward about it as well; at least you won’t be alone.
It takes a bit to gather the courage, I know, and to figure out how to be inconspicuous if you’re living with your parents, but I assure you, once it’s over and done with, you’ll be really glad you did it!!!
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Thanks so much; I most certainly will! 🙂