No matter how private you keep your sex life, there’s one time you should always kiss and tell: When you’re at the doctor.
And yet, many people are skipping tests for sexually transmitted infections, research shows. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer than 40 percent of young, sexually active women are screened for chlamydia, the most common STI in the United Stated. A new national survey of 1,000 Americans also found that one in eight young men have foregone STI tests because of financial concerns.
Why Aren’t You Getting Tested?
Experts cite several reasons that people tend to miss STI tests. One is the embarrassment factor, says Fred Wyand, director of communications for the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA). You may feel uncomfortable discussing sensitive topics, but it might help to remember that your doctor probably doesn’t feel the same way. “They’ve seen and heard this before, and actually expect to have these conversations,” Wyand tells Yahoo Health. If you feel like your doctor is judging you or isn’t listening to you, consider finding a new doctor, Wyand adds. (The ASHA also offers a guide with 10 questions you should ask your doctor about STI testing.)
Cost is another concern, especially for men. According to the survey, which was conducted by Wakefield Research for eHealth, men ages 25 to 39 are the most likely group to skip STI tests to save cash. If you’re concerned about the cost of testing, seek out clinics through your city or county health department, recommends STI researcher J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. “They’ll often have a sliding scale or reduced costs for those kinds of things,” he says.
Another option that guys may not think of: Planned Parenthood. “A lot of Planned Parenthood clinics have services that are available for men as well, and they may have a sliding scale or reduced fees,” Fortenberry tells Yahoo Health.
If you’re worried about confidentiality, there are some reputable at-home testing options. But Fortenberry cautions that most of them are relatively expensive.
Which Tests Should You Have?
The tests you need depends on a number of factors, including your sex, age, number of sexual partners, health status, and whether or not your partner has been tested recently, Wyatt explains. For example, since chlamydia can cause infertility, the CDC recommends annual screening for all women younger than age 25 who are sexually active. But women 25 and older with multiple sex partners should also be tested, the CDC says.
You’ll also want to tell your doctor what type of sex you have (that is, if you’ve had oral, anal, or vaginal sex). “Often people think that if they’ve been tested in one place, that means they don’t have an infection in any place, and that’s not true,” Fortenberry says. “Sexually transmitted organisms can affect places in your body other than your genitals.” One study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, for example, found that about 15 percent of women visiting an STI clinic presented with rectal chlamydia.
If your doctor doesn’t bring up the topic, speak up yourself, Wyatt says. “This should be routine as getting your cholesterol checked,” he stresses. “We shouldn’t look at STI testing any differently — it should just be something that we do.”
Source: Yahoo! Health