Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise, yet many sexually active people aren’t getting STI testing regularly or as often as they should. Many people don’t know how often they should be tested or the importance of getting tested if they don’t have symptoms. Some people say that it’s inconvenient or embarrassing. Perhaps they are not comfortable talking about their lifestyle with their regular health providers.
Whatever the reason, if you’re sexually active and have had more than one partner in the past 12 months, you should get tested for STIs. The problem with STIs is that most of the time, there are no symptoms. This means that people can transmit STIs to their partners for years without ever knowing that have one. In order to protect yourself from the long-term complications associated with STIs (like infertility and death), you should be tested regularly and get treated as soon as possible.
What’s Included in STI Testing?
According to national and provincial health standards, a full-spectrum STI test involves:
- a urine test or swab to test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis – If you don’t have symptoms, a urine test is fine. If you have symptoms (such as discharge), a swab is recommended.
- a blood test to screen for hepatitis, HIV, and syphilis.
How To Get STI Testing
As a provider in Calgary, I can only speak about the local resources. If you don’t live in Calgary, do your research to discover what is available for you.
Go to a Clinic to get STI Testing:
- Go to the medical clinic to get a requisition (average time spent: 2 hours).
- Visit the lab to provide a urine and blood sample (average time spent: 2 hours).
- Return to the medical clinic in about 7 days to get results and/or treatment (average time spent: 2 hours).
Purchase an STI testing kit online:
- Go to a website, pay for a kit (around $200-300) to be sent to your home (average wait: 1 day)
- Provide samples and ship back to the company.
- Receive results in your online account (2-5 days).
- If positive, you will have to proceed to a local healthcare provider to get re-tested (for confirmation of diagnosis) and treated.
Call Direct Health Solutions for At-Home STI testing:
- If you are located in or around Calgary, call Direct Health Solutions to make an appointment for a home visit (testing in other areas of Alberta may be available upon request).
- A family nurse practitioner will come to you, write a requisition, collect a urine/swab and blood sample during the visit (average time spent: 15-20 min)
- Receive your results in 2 days. If positive, treatment can be prescribed and delivered to you at a follow-up appointment.
Which method do you prefer?
Frequently Asked Questions about STI testing:
- I don’t have any symptoms, do I still need to get tested? The majority of STIs don’t have any symptoms, which means that people can be infected with an STI for years and pass it on to their partners without ever being aware of it. Practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly is the best way to protect yourself and your partners from STIs.
- Do I need a physical exam? A physical exam is not necessary unless you have a concern or symptoms.
- Do I need to get tested for herpes? Blood testing to herpes simplex virus (HSV) is not routine because so many people test positive for it without ever having symptoms. A positive HSV test (1 or 2) does not tell you how long you have had it or where it will show up in the body. However, if you have a sore, you should be treated promptly and the sore should be swabbed to confirm the diagnosis.
- Do I need to be tested for Bacterial Vaginosis and Yeast? Routine screening for bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast is not commonly done unless you have symptoms and desire treatment. Treating asymptomatic BV and Yeast is not necessary and increases your risk of resistance to antibiotics.
- I always use condoms, do I still need to get tested? Yes, condoms do not protect from all STIs and are not 100% effective. If you’re sexually active and have had more than one partner since your last STI test, you should be tested again.
Thanks for Reading!
Direct Health Solution is a sex-positive clinic. We approach all clients with an open mind and respect for however they choose to express their sexuality. We focus on education and empowerment to ensure you and your partner(s) are safe and as health as can be. Our at-home STI testing starts at $99 for one person plus $35 for each additional person per visit. Book your private STI testing today!
If you are interested in learning more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 403-973-3188.