STIs Testing Explained

Not everybody realises that getting tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) is simple and painless. It’s always better to get tested for STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea – the two most common STIs among young people in the UK- than to risk letting a disease go untreated. Leaving STIs untreated could lead to serious health problems which include infertility in the case of chlamydia.

It’s so important to get tested. If you’ve had unprotected sex or the condom has split then you need to get tested to make sure you identify an infection as soon as possible and give it the right treatment. Likewise, if somebody you have had sex with tells you they have an STI, or if your partner tells you they have had unprotected sex with somebody else, you should arrange to get yourself tested for STIs. The thought of having a sexual health check-up might sound daunting but it’s actually really easy.

The test for chlamydia is simple. For women, the procedure includes a quick and painless swab test which will collect cells from the cervix, or inside the lower vagina. For men, the procedure includes a urine sample. Samples are then sent to a laboratory and the results are normally available within 4-5 working days. If there is a possibility you have chlamydia in your eye, throat or anal area, a swab sample needs to be taken from these areas too.

If you need to get tested you can get a free test at your local NHS Sexual Health Clinic, GUM clinic or you can ask your GP for a test. You can also test yourself at home by buying a testing kit. The home testing kit uses a urine or swab sample; you send the sample to their lab where they will test it for various STIs and send you the results in two to three days.

Some universities also have their own sexual health clinics and provide information about STIs and how to get tested for them. Superdrug Online Doctor recently published the Sexual Health Report Card which graded universities from a 1st to a 3rd on how much information they gave to students and what sexual health services they offered them. The report looked at areas such as: how much sexual health information the university had on their website, if they had a clinic or not and if they are frequently organising special days for the promotion of STI testing. These areas were investigated with a questionnaire and each area was awarded a score. The sum of these scores resulted in the final grade for each university.

Bristol University came top of the report and was awarded a 1st, along with Loughborough, Dundee, Cambridge, Leeds, Nottingham and St Georges of London. It is noteworthy that the majority of universities scoring on the top of the list (receiving a 1st) were particularly strong in the area of organising and promoting special sexual health events and STI testing days (receiving an A for related questions in most cases). This highlights the importance of active university engagement in the identification and treatment of STIs, which eventually contributes to the wellbeing of their students.

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