STD & STI Testing in Cedar Rapids, IA
Screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or sexually transmitted infections (STI), is an important step for any sexually active person’s health. In many cases, those infected with a sexually transmitted disease may not even know because they do not have any significant symptoms. If left untreated, STDs and STIs can be spread to others and may even lead to serious complications such as infertility. The expertly trained Ob Gyns at Cedar Rapids Ob Gyn have extensive experience diagnosing and treating STIs. Call to request an appointment at our Ob Gyn clinic in Cedar Rapids, IA.
STD vs. STI
STD stands for sexually transmitted disease, while STI refers to sexually transmitted infection. Fundamentally, the difference is between a disease and an infection.
While not all diseases start as infections, a significant number do. Sexually transmitted diseases typically commence as sexually transmitted infections. The infection occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses enter the body and commence replication.
After the introduction of sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses into the body, the infection may develop into a disease. Disease manifests when the foreign presence significantly disrupts the body’s normal functions and processes.
When to Get Tested for STD/STIs
It is recommended that you undergo an STD screening if:
- You have a new sexual partner. Everyone who is sexually active should receive an STD screening at some point, and this is especially true if you are engaged in sexual relations with a new person.
- You are having unprotected sex. Not wearing protection increases your risk. Because of this, it is recommended that you receive a screening If you’re having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.
- You are engaging in high-risk behavior. If you or your partner have multiple partners, are an IV drug user or have had contact with a sex worker, it is strongly advised that you receive more frequent screenings.
- You are exhibiting symptoms. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it is always best to have it examined by your physician to determine the cause.
How Common Are STD/STIs?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in five people in the United States has an STD. The highest infection rates were observed among individuals aged 20 to 34.
Contracting an STD is possible through engaging in vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has an STD. Sexually active individuals are susceptible to STDs, and it’s important to note that full intercourse is not the sole means of transmission. Some STDs, such as herpes and HPV, can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
What Are Types of STD/STIs?
Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are good examples of STDs caused by bacteria. These issues can be treated with antibiotics and should go away after the antibiotic treatment is completed.
STDs that are caused by parasites like Trichomonas Vaginalis can be cured using antibiotics, antiparasitic drugs or prescription shampoos.
STDs caused by a virus cannot be cured completely, but they can be managed. The most common types are HPV, genital herpes, hepatitis B and HIV.
Signs and Symptoms of STD/STIs
It isn’t always obvious when you have an STD. Symptoms can be minor or even nonexistent in some cases. Visit the doctor if you are experiencing:
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Blisters or sores on genitals and/or anus
- Itchy or irritated genital area
- Unusual discharge
- Fever / flu-like symptoms
What to Expect During a STD/STI Test
STD screening is simple, quick, and is usually painless. There’s not a single test for all STDs, but your OBGYN can help you figure out which tests you need. STD testing may include:
- A urine test: you just pee into a cup.
- An oral test: you just rub the inside of your mouth or throat with a soft swab.
- A blood test: your provider takes blood from your arm or a quick finger prick.
- A physical exam: your provider looks at your genital area to check for warts, sores, rashes, irritation, or discharge.
- A blister or sore swab: your provider takes a sample of fluid from any sores or blisters you have with a swab.
- A genital swab: your provider will gently take discharge or cell samples from your anus, vagina, or penis.
Which STD/STI Test Should I Get?
- All adults and adolescents aged 13 to 64 should undergo HIV testing at least once.
Sexually Active Women:
- Sexually active women under 25 should be annually tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Women aged 25 and older, with risk factors like new or multiple partners or a partner with an STD, should also undergo annual testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Pregnant individuals should be tested early in pregnancy for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
- Those at risk should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea early in pregnancy, with the possibility of repeat testing in some cases.
Men who have Sex with Men (MSM):
- MSM should be tested at least annually for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
- Those with multiple or anonymous partners may need more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
- Annual HIV testing is recommended, with the potential for more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
- MSM living with HIV should be tested annually for hepatitis C.
- Individuals engaging in sexual behaviors that elevate their infection risk or those sharing injection drug equipment should undergo HIV testing at least annually.
Specific Testing Considerations:
- People involved in oral or anal sex should discuss throat and rectal testing options with their healthcare provider.
How Are STD/STIs Treated?
Medications prescribed by your OBGYN can effectively cure certain STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. However, for other STDs like herpes, there is no cure, but medications are available to manage and alleviate symptoms.
Problems Untreated STDs Can Cause
Certain treatable STDs can pose serious risks if not addressed. For instance, untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to complications that may hinder a woman’s ability to conceive. Additionally, having an untreated STD raises the risk of acquiring HIV. Some STDs, such as HIV, can be deadly if not treated promptly.
How to Prevent STD/STIs
Ways to effectively prevent STDs include practicing abstinence, getting vaccinated, limiting the number of sexual partners, embracing mutual monogamy, and consistently using condoms.
Additionally, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medication designed to lower the risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity or injection drug use. When consistently taken according to the prescribed regimen, PrEP proves highly effective in preventing HIV transmission.
Request an Appointment
If you would like to receive testing for a sexually transmitted disease or infection, or would like to learn more about the types of STDs and STIs discussed on this page, please contact our OB Gyn clinic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa today by calling (319) 363-2682. New and existing patients may also request an appointment online using our secure form.