If you suspect that you may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you should test yourself. Testing is the only sure way to know whether you are infected with an STI.
In many cases STIs do not show any symptoms, so many people do not know they are infected. Nevertheless, an infection can harm your health and may be transmitted to other people. Therefore, it would be wise to test yourself on a regular basis, even if you do not have any signs or symptoms of infection.
Testing will also give you peace of mind and greater control over your own health. However, keep in mind that the test results will expire after the next sexual intercourse. Testing gives information about the situation at the time of testing. If you lead an active sex life, it is wise to test yourself on a regular basis.
Testing itself does not offer any protection, either now or in the future. Condoms are the most effective protection against STIs (including HIV).
What to keep in mind when testing yourself
- It is important that the correct body parts be tested. You do not need to describe to the doctor exactly how you have had sex; just tell the doctor which parts of the body should be tested. Infection may be located in your throat, in your urethra, or in your anus.
- If you have been engaged in oral sex, you should have your throat examined if you have given a blowjob. If you have gotten a blowjob, you should have your penis examined.
- If you have had anal sex, you should have your anus examined if you were the passive partner. If you were the active partner, you should have your penis examined.
- If you have had vaginal sex, you should have your penis examined.
Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, mycoplasmosis
These infections spread primarily through mucous membranes, which are located, for example, in the urethra, under the edge of the penis, under the foreskin (if it exists), the anus, and the throat. It is important to know where you are required to be tested.
- Testing from the penis requires a urine sample in a plastic cup or the doctor takes a sample from the urethra with a slender tampon.
- For testing from the anus, a cotton swab is turned against the inner side of the rectum.
- When testing from the throat, the doctor takes a light scrape from the back of your mouth with a small cotton swab.
HIV, syphilis and viral hepatitis (hepatitis A, B and C)
If you want to get tested for HIV, syphilis or hepatitis, you need to give a blood sample. This is sent to the laboratory for analysis and the results usually arrive within three days.
There is also a HIV rapid test available in which the result will be known in a few minutes. But keep in mind that it can take up to three months from getting the infection before the HIV rapid test can detect the virus.
Do not forget that it is possible to vaccinate yourself against hepatitis A and B.