More of my patients are again seeking STD testing as we see a rise in new relationships.
While getting STD testing is an important step in reducing the spread of STD's, one should realize that testing after a sexual encounter is not the optimal model in reducing your risk from a potential STD exposure.
These are some of the concepts I try to explain to my patients:
1. STD testing and interpretation of results is confusing. Some tests require a blood sample while others require cultures or DNA probes. What a positive test and a negative test mean have to be put into a context as to the timing of the test and the lapse of time since the exposure. Making sense of what tests are helpful and what they mean is where a STD & womens health expert comes into play.
2. Testing on all partners you are involved with currently provides the most thorough understanding of your true risks. With access to these full results I have the ability to design the best plan for surviellance or treatment for you. Helping you get the correct testing is the best approach to reducing your risk of experiencing the harm from an STD exposure.
3. While the appearance of abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain or lesions on the vulva triggers fear of an STD for many patients, one also needs to appreciate that the absence of symptoms is common even for those that altimately test positive for an STD. This is where a screening plan designed uniquely for you is important to protecting your health.
4. There is more than just a reliance with a condom to reducing your risk of getting an STD. Several modifications that I advise for you can be incorporated towards providing a higher margin of safety. A full discussion with me will help in determining which steps can be taken to achieve the highest level of personal protection.
5. STD exposure even when treated effectively can pose a future health risk. Understanding your STD history and obtaining regular testing not only helps alleviate current harm but can be used in improving health outcomes in the future. The results of our testing today will be incorporated to optimizing your health in the future. One application that comes to mind, is utilizing this information to preparing for a safe & healthy pregnancy which would begin even before attempting to conceive.