20 Oct No Need To Be Ashamed! How to Ask Your OB-GYN for an STI Test
Dear women: you should be talking about STIs with your OB-GYN.
A woman’s anatomy makes her more susceptible to all types of infections, including sexually transmitted ones. Plus, untreated STIs can cause more severe and long-lasting problems for women compared to men. If a woman becomes pregnant while infected, she can pass the STI onto her child.
As a woman, your OB-GYN is your number one confidant when it comes to your sexual and reproductive health. An STI test is routine and nothing to be afraid of.
If you’re nervous about talking about STIs with your gynecologist, keep reading. We’ve compiled a simple guide to get you through an uncomfortable conversation.
Don’t Feel Ashamed: STIs Are More Common Than You Think
If you’re worried that you may have an STI, you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organization:
- Over one million STIs are transmitted every day
- There are over 376 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis transmitted every year
- Over 500 million people are living with herpes simplex virus
These statistics prove that even though we don’t talk about them, STIs impact people throughout the world.
Since STIs are so frequent, it’s easy to contract an infection if you’re having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
Talking about STIs with a qualified professional, like your gynecologist, allows you to learn more about the symptoms, treatment options, and how to prevent getting an infection in the future.
How to Talk About STIs With Your Doctor
We get it: talking about an STI is awkward. The stigma surrounding STIs makes people who contract them feel dirty and ashamed.
But while it’s perfectly fine to refrain from telling your family or friends about your STI, your OB-GYN is a person you should feel comfortable talking about STIs with.
Remind Yourself: Your Doctor Wants to Help
Your OB-GYN will never judge you or reprimand you for your choices. Your gyno is there to help you understand what’s going on, treat any problems, and prevent issues from occurring in the future.
Sometimes it helps to remind yourself of these facts prior to your OB-GYN appointment. If you’re nervous, take a few deep breaths before heading into the building.
Keep in mind that your gynecologist is a doctor, and it is his or her duty to help patients overcome diseases and live healthy lives. If you don’t feel like your gynecologist has your best interests at heart or you do not feel comfortable speaking with him or her about STIs, consider switching to a different OB-GYN.
Explain Your Concerns
At some point during your gynecologist appointment, your doctor should ask if you have any questions, concerns, or have been experiencing anything abnormal. This is the perfect time to talk with your gynecologist about STI tests.
You don’t have to get into specifics, but start the STI conversation by explaining what’s going on and why you are concerned. Describe any symptoms you have. It may help to write down your symptoms before your appointment, so you don’t forget any.
If you don’t have symptoms but want to get tested, that’s okay, too. In fact, it’s great that you’re being proactive about your health. According to the CDC, all sexually active women under 25 or any woman with new or multiple sex partners should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia once a year.
If you’re still feeling flustered about how to broach the subject of STIs with your doctor, here are some helpful phrases to use:
- “I started seeing someone, and I want to get tested before we move the relationship further”
- “I have multiple partners, and I haven’t been tested recently, so I would like to get one to make sure I’m healthy”
- “I’m sexually active, and I’m not sure about my partner’s sexual history, so I would like to get an STI test”
Talking about STIs may be uncomfortable, but your conversation will stay between you and your healthcare provider (thanks to HIPAA laws). It’s a confidential talk that can help you stay healthy and prevent future infections.
Stay Educated to Reduce Stigma
To eliminate those uneasy feelings about STIs, stay educated. Just like any disease, the better you understand what STIs are and how they are treated, the less anxious you’ll feel about getting tested.
Asking questions, conducting research, and staying informed on various treatment options can help you feel calm when discussing STIs. Your doctor may also supply you with resources like pamphlets, books, and research documents that help you better understand the different types of sexually transmitted infections.
What to Expect From an STI Test
Another way to calm your nerves about STI testing is to know what to expect before your appointment. The more you know, the less anxious you should feel.
To determine which type of STD test you need, your gynecologist may ask:
- About your symptoms
- If you or your partner have had an STI in the past
- How many sexual partners you currently have
- The type of sex you have engaged in (oral, vaginal, or anal)
- What type of protection you use
- If you use drugs that require needles
Answer these questions honestly so your doctor can determine which STIs you are most at risk of.
There are a few different tests for STIs. Most often, a urine sample will suffice. Another common test is a blood test, in which a doctor uses a small sample of blood from your arm or finger to detect an infection.
To test for HIV, you will receive a cheek or throat swab. Your gynecologist will brush a soft swab against the inside of your cheek or throat to collect cells. These tests are most common for gonorrhea.
For herpes simplex virus, your doctor will conduct a physical exam to inspect your genital area. The gynecologist may take a sample of fluid from a few sores using a swab.
Finally, if a urine, blood, or cheek test does not suffice, your doctor may conduct a genital swab. He or she will use a soft swab to collect discharge or cells from your vagina, cervix, or anus.
STI tests require lab testing, and you should receive results within two and five days.
Partner With a Gynecologist You Can Trust
The thought of an STI is scary, but having a trustworthy gynecologist by your side can relieve your anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to talk about STI tests with your OB-GYN. The more you know, the better protected you can be in the future.
If you’re looking for a reliable OB-GYN in New York, you’ve found the one. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help you stay healthy.