Sexually Transmitted Diseases can impact your fertility, increase your risk for cancer and some can even lead to death (if left untreated). When certain STDs are caught early, though, wiping them out can be as simple as taking a course of antibiotics. While STDs like HIV are lifelong, HIV can be maintained with proper medical care (although, there is still no cure).
Getting tested and receiving a proper diagnosis is incredibly important to your health. But should you perform an STD check? If you’re nervous about heading to a clinic or doctor’s office, or are just short of time, you can safely perform an STD check at home.
Understand Your Risk
Anyone who is sexually active can get an STD, thus everyone in those circumstances should be tested. The Mayo Clinic reports that there are many factors that could increase your risk of contracting an STD (or STI).
The most common risk factors related to STDs include:
Not using a condom
Having multiple sexual partners
Being coerced or forced into intercourse
A previous history of STDs/STIs
Misusing or abusing drugs and/or alcohol
Being an intravenous drug user (e.g. injectable drugs)
Men using medications for erectile dysfunction
Younger adults (CDC reports that STDs are higher in those ranging in age of 15-24)
Just how common are STDs? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2018, almost 2.5 million cases were reported. However, there are likely many more cases than reports show, as some individuals may feel a stigma in getting tested. Others may not have the financial means to pay for a test or may have inadequate access to proper medical care.
What are the First Signs of an STD?
If you’re not a doctor, you’re not going to be able to self-diagnose an STD/STI. However, there are many signs and symptoms that could indicate an infection. Keep in mind that these signs or symptoms also could be related to another condition that is not an STD.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the first signs of an STD may include:
Burning or pain during urination
Sores or other lesions near or on genitals, mouth or rectal area
Pungent vaginal discharge (different than normal) or discharge that just looks different
Vaginal bleeding that is unnatural to your cycle
Pain in your abdomen (again, unrelated to your cycle)
An unusual rash (the Mayo Clinic notes this will be on your “trunk, hands or feet”)
Swollen lymph nodes are another potential sign, although this could be difficult to detect.
Some STDs are silent, too. HPV could cause genital warts, but it also can be invisible. Just because you don’t notice symptoms, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.
Getting Results: An Effective STD Check Means Taking a Test
The only way to know for sure if you have an STI/STD is to get tested. You can take a test at a clinic or your doctor’s office. You also can order tests to take at home. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms, get to a doctor ASAP; your health cannot wait!
At-home STD tests are ideal for those who want to be proactive with their health. myLAB Box offers numerous STD test kits, including combination screens and single screens to detect a specific disease or infection.
If you want peace of mind, take a combination test that screens for the most common STDs/STIs. At-home tests are discreet, and you’ll receive results in about a week (5 to 11 days). You can also talk with a medical professional from the lab to discuss your results.
myLab Box has CLIA High Complexity lab affiliates that are certified in all 50 U.S. states and have been at the forefront of infectious disease testing methodologies for over a decade. In addition, their affiliated physician networks and STD experts ensure that your lab results are handled with care and meet nationwide healthcare standards. Trained STD counselors are available to provide guidance and treatment options in the event of a positive result.
Ready to Test? Here’s What You Should Know
Before you order a test, you may have concerns. Does it hurt? Is the testing process difficult? Relax. Tests are easy to take and often painless. At-home STD check tests either require a small urine sample, a swab or a tiny prick of blood. You won’t find any big needles or anything scary.
All the instructions for your test are in your box. If you have any questions, though, you can contact myLab Box with concerns or for guidance.
Those who are transitioning or who identify as transgender or nonbinary may be concerned about what test to order. We recommend selecting the male test, as it does not require a vaginal swab.