Sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STD/STI) are very common and can be spread remarkably easily. Most will require sexual contact, such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex to pass on but some may even pass on through just skin contact with an infected area. The most common infections such as Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia fall into the former group while infections such as Herpes and Genital Warts fall into the latter group.
Most men who have an STD will get symptoms, for example 60% will experience a burning sensation when passing urine or will notice a yellow/green discharge from the penis. This means that 40% have mild or no symptoms at all, which emphasizes the need for screening.
This is even more staggering when we consider the symptoms for women. Up to 80% may have no symptoms at all, which often means they have no idea an STD is present. Some will ask whether the infection needs treating since no symptoms are present and the answer is always yes! Untreated STDs such as Chlamydia may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which in turn can lead to irreversible infertility.
Other common infections to be aware of include Gonorrhoea/gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HIV, mycoplasma, ureaplasma, yeast and parasites.
Regular screening is recommended for those with casual partners, even if protection has been used because condoms are not 100% safe. 3 to 6 monthly screening would be ideal.
If you are experiencing any symptoms such as burning while passing urine, penile discharge or vaginal discharge you should be screened and treated right away. If you have no symptoms then regular screening is advised to ensure you identify a hidden infection early.
The screening process is quite straightforward. For men we will often collect urine and blood samples to send to the lab. Sometimes we may collect throat and anal swabs if these areas are at risk of STDs. For women we will collect vaginal swabs and blood samples as well. Again, we also may collect throat and anal swabs if the risk deems it necessary.
Sample collection usually takes less than 15 minutes and once collected it will take approximately a week for results to return.
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