Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) do not always exhibit signs or symptoms. It is important for anyone who is sexually active to have a regular STD check up. Some people avoid having an STD check up because of fear of not knowing what to expect during the exam. Exams typically involve a discussion with a physician detailing your sexual history, blood and urine tests and a physical exam.
Having an STD check up is confidential and nonjudgmental. It is important to be open and honest with the physician giving the exam, and answer all questions honestly. The physician giving the STD check up will typically begin the exam by asking a number of questions dealing with your sexual history, methods of birth control and number of sexual partners.
A urine test will be given to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Samples of blood will be taken to test for sexually transmitted diseases that cannot be diagnosed with a urine test. Blood tests will reveal diseases such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis, genital warts and herpes.
The final step in an STD check up involves a physical examination. You usually will be given a gown or paper sheet to cover yourself and will be instructed to undress from the waist down. Your external genital area is then examined for noticeable signs of an STD. Sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes and genital warts can sometimes be diagnosed with a physical examination. It is not uncommon for female patients to have an internal vaginal exam, particularly if she is seeking a birth control method.
Some sexually transmitted diseases can be diagnosed the day of the STD check up. Blood work usually takes a few days to test, so getting the results might take a few days or a week. If the test results show negative signs of sexually transmitted disease, you will be contacted by mail or telephone. If a particular test shows signs for an STD, the office that conducted the exam will notify you and schedule a return visit.
A large number of sexually transmitted diseases can be treated and cured with antibiotics. HIV or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and herpes cannot be cured but can be treated with medications that can suppress and control the severity of the disease. If you are diagnosed with an STD, it is important that you notify all past and present sexual partners so that they can be tested as well.