If you’re worried you may have a sexually transmitted disease or infection, but you’re not sure where to turn for testing or treatment, you’re not alone. Here’s everything you need to know about safe and easy testing, why you should get tested routinely, and where you can find the top STD doctor in College Park, Maryland!
Why Is It So Important to Get Tested for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common illnesses that are most often spread via sexual contact. They are passed from person to person through the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and other bodily fluids.
Sometimes, infections can be spread to an infant from their mother, through blood transfusions, or from using shared needles. There are various types of STDs and STIs, including bacterial, viral, and parasitic. STDs and STIs occur frequently, with as many as one in every five people contracting an STI.
That statistic is just one reason why it’s so important to get tested regularly at a local office of an STD doctor in College Park, Maryland. Routine testing not only catches the condition in a timely manner for optimal treatment but also helps prevent future infections, as well as the spread of them.
STIs often have long-term health consequences when left untreated. All STDs start as STIs, and sexually transmitted diseases are generally harder to treat than infections. Some STDs cannot be cured either, primarily ones spread through viruses.
Who Should Get Tested for STDs and How Often?
Sexually active people should receive at least one STI test per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, many medical professionals agree that certain people require testing more than others.
As a general rule, the more sexually active you are and the more partners you have, the more you should receive testing. Pregnant or nursing women, or immunocompromised people, may also need testing more often.
You may have to request specific STD / STI tests, especially if you engage in oral or anal sex, are at a higher risk for HIV or other illnesses, or have specific concerns.
What Are the Signs I Should Have STD Testing?
STIs don’t always produce symptoms. Again, if you’re sexually active, especially if you aren’t in a monogamous relationship with a partner who is free of STDs or STIs, then it’s fair to assume that you need to get tested at least once a year.
Signs and symptoms to look out for include, but are not limited to:
- Bleeding, itching, or pain in the genitals, rectal area, or mouth
- Bumps or sores on the genitals, rectal area, or mouth
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Painful intercourse
- Painful or frequent urination, especially if there’s burning or bleeding
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, especially in the groin
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal discharge of an unknown cause, especially if it has a strange or pungent smell
How Are STDs Tested and Diagnosed?
There are many easy, simple, and effective tests that are performed for accurate STI / STD diagnosis. Many of these tests are also affordable, especially if you have insurance or are part of a government program. Some examples of STI or STD testing include:
- Laboratory testing: Blood, fluid, and/or urine tests can be used to identify many types of STIs and STDs.
- Physical exam: A pelvic exam and/or other physical exams may be performed to look for physical symptoms, such as redness, bumps, or swelling.
- Screening: This refers to testing when no symptoms are present just to ensure you’re disease free. This usually includes laboratory testing.
Testing varies depending on your symptoms (if any), sexual history, number of partners, risk, and other factors. Your women’s healthcare specialist will also talk to you about all of this to better determine the right testing for you.
What Type of Doctor Should I Visit for an STD Test?
Many people don’t know where they should turn for STD testing. Luckily, there are many professionals that can help you with your sexual health. Your primary medical provider, local health departments, specialists, urgent care clinics, and hospitals are all here to help you.
What matters is that you are receiving testing. For women in particular though, you may feel more comfortable meeting with a gynecologist or other medical professional at a gynecology practice. Additionally, specialized care like gynecology may lead you to more accurate results faster. Many women’s health specialists tend to offer more types of testing and treatments as well, which also leads to better results sooner.
A gynecologist has more education and training in diagnosing and treating STDs or STIs in women. Gynecologists and their teams also focus on creating a non-judgmental environment for women’s health, compared to an urgent care or local health department. This can help to make you feel safer.
Home-based testing is another option. However, this isn’t always as accurate or timely as visiting a gynecologist or similar practitioner.
For the Top STD Doctor in College Park, Maryland, Choose Nearby Women’s HealthCare Specialists!
Women’s HealthCare Specialists in Greenbelt and Alexandria offer a variety of services including STD testing to help you take control of your health! Here, Dr. Navita Modi and the team are committed to providing a safe space for all patients, so you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands. Reach us at 301-812-3400 to book your appointment today, and take control of your sexual health!