What to Expect From Your STD Clinic Visit

by Tim Leach

Posted on Monday 1st of December 2008

So you haven’t been as careful as you should, and you’re contemplating your first ever visit to an STD clinic to get tested? It’s understandable that you’d be nervous, but it really isn’t as bad as you’d imagine. Here’s what you can expect from your visit, so you’ll know the general procedure.

First steps…

First of all you have to pick a place to be tested. In the US, your personal doctor or gynaecologist can administer STD tests, or you could drop into a planned parenthood or public health clinic. However you plan on doing it, call the clinic before you undertake your STD test – some states need a physician’s review of a test before it can be administered. As well as this, with the various sexually transmitted diseases around, it’s a good idea to know whether the clinic you plan on visiting is equipped to deal with the STD you’re worried you may have.

One question I hear a lot is as to whether STD tests are anonymous. The answer is that it depends on the state. In many places you can have a number allocated, rather than your real name, but bear in mind that some states positive test results to be reported (mainly HIV) – as they are breaking the law not to, in this instance your anonymity will be broken.

In the Clinic

When you arrive at the STD clinic, they’ll need you to fill in some paperwork. This will generally cover your general health as well as your sexual history. Be honest – this is vital. The form will also ask if you would like an HIV test – by law they have to ask you. Remember though, in some states a positive diagnosis will need to be reported.

Once you’ve completed the paperwork, the actual exam will begin. You’ll be lead into a backroom and allowed to change into a medical gown. At this point you’ll begin a face to face discussion with your doctor covering all the areas dealt with previously, but allowing you to give more details, and helping the doctor figure out what is most likely to be in need of checking. Once again, it’s vital to be honest here, otherwise important things can be overlooked, and necessary STD tests may not be administered.

After this, there are many STD tests that may be required, but they broadly can be divided into 2, dependent on whether they need a sample or not.

Visual STD Testing

These are diagnoses that can be made just my looking at the affected area. Examples of this type of sexually transmitted disease include genital warts, pubic lice and genital herpes (if you’re currently suffering from an outbreak).

Physical STD Testing

Physical STD testing covers any disease that cannot be detected purely by looking, and this includes the more serious ones – Syphilis, Gonnorhea, Chlamydia, Hepatitis, Trichomoniasis, genital herpes (for those without symptoms) and HIV. The STD tests involved vary, and may require a blood sample, a urine sample or a physical swab to be taken from the urethra, vagina and/or anus. The latter of these will be a little uncomfortable for a couple of second.

The Wait for Results

You might receive results from some of the tests the same day as you took them, while others may take up to a week to be returned. As to how you’ll hear, many clinics will require you to pick up your STD test results (for confidentiality reasons, results via phone are rare), while others will send them via the post. In the event of a positive, medication will be proscribed to help you treat the sexually transmitted disease.

In reality, STD testing is no worse than a standard trip to the doctors once you get past the embarrassment. The staff are always professional and experienced in dealing with all kinds of sexually transmitted disease, and worrying about your illness without knowing for sure is potentially the most damaging thing you can do – for you and your partner.

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