According to estimates, one in every two Americans will have an STI by the age of 25. There were 2,295,739 diagnoses of STDs that were recorded in 2017. What differentiates STD from STI, given these disparate numbers? Given the prevalence of STIs and STDs, knowledge is crucial for maintaining your sexual health. Being aware of the differences between various sexual disorders contributes to some of this knowledge.

Viruses, parasites, and bacterial infections are among these conditions. Some of them are treatable with antibiotics and antiviral drugs, while others are still incurable and may need continuous care. The good news is that vaccinations can reduce the chance of developing some STDs and that the majority of STDs are avoidable. However, STDs pose significant health concerns, particularly when they go untreated.


What is the difference between an STD and an STI?

Sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, Sexually transmitted illnesses, or STDs,

The terms are the first way that STDs and STIs vary from one another. While STI stands for sexually transmitted infection, STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. Fundamental differences exist between a disease and an infection. While not all diseases begin with infections, many do. Sexually transmitted illnesses develop from sexually transmitted infections. Sexually transmitted bacteria or viruses enter the body and start to grow, which then causes infection.

The infection may develop into a disease if the sexually transmitted viruses or bacteria have penetrated the body. When this outside influence formally interferes with the body’s regular processes and functioning, disease results.

How do all STIs progress into STDs?

Although sexually transmitted illnesses don’t always begin as infections, they often do. When microorganisms like pathogens, viruses, or parasites penetrate your body and begin to proliferate, infections develop. The nature of pathogens will determine how they enter your body.

Some are spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual, while others are spread through the exchange of body fluids including blood, vaginal secretions, or semen. When these microorganisms destroy your cells and symptoms start to manifest, infection turns into illness.

STD Testing

What signs and symptoms need your attention?

Testing is crucial since symptoms may take days, weeks, or even months to become evident. Having said that, sexually active people should be aware of the indicators to look out for. Depending on the sort of sexual behavior you’ve engaged in, various STDs have distinct symptoms and might affect different sections of your body. In fact, this applies to all forms of sex, including oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse, dry humping, hand jobs, and hand sex.

What to watch out for includes:

When to look out for a test?

All sexually active individuals should be screened annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, a good general guideline is to be tested if you:

How they manifest is another significant distinction between STDs and STIs. You can have certain symptoms since an STD is the advanced stage of a STI. But many STI carriers don’t exhibit any symptoms of infection.

The one and only way to find out whether you have an STD or STI is to be tested. Unfortunately, a lot of people still disregard being checked frequently after sexual activity. Stigma is often to blame for this. By adopting less stigmatising terminology, some medical experts aim to encourage more individuals to be checked. It’s crucial that individuals feel secure and safe, undergo testing, and stop the disease from spreading. Unfortunately, a lot of illnesses spread because the carrier is unaware of their condition.

Prevention is better than cure.

There are various methods people can employ to keep themselves STI and STD free. Some of these selections might not suit a person’s interests and way of life. People may, however, employ a number of strategies to lower their risk of contracting STIs and STDs. It is important that people select a technique—or a mix of techniques—that best meets their needs.

See Also: What Doctor to See for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Guidelines to Raise Awareness

Getting help for STIs and STDs:

To understand more about the differences between STIs and STDs or to address worries about STI exposure, speak with a medical expert. When necessary, trained specialists can provide accurate information and conduct STI testing. These services can be found at physician offices, hospitals, nonprofit medical organizations, or urgent care centers. Additionally, several health services may provide discreet, nonjudgmental healthcare through public health centers where students can get tested for STDs, book appointments with nurses at a discounted rate, have access to free condoms and other products for safe sex, and receive detailed information about particular STIs, their symptoms, and treatments.

The state of one’s sexual health is crucial to one’s life. It may have an effect on someone’s psychological, physical, and mental health. That’s why it’s important that everyone has access to the tools and knowledge they really have to maintain their sexual health.

Family Medicine Austin

Whether a pap smear also detects any STDs, in an essence, a pap test (pap smear) does not help discover STDs such as human papillomavirus (HPV). A pap test detects precancerous cells in your cervix mainly caused by HPV.

A yearly pap smear or overall women`s health examination may be the only time many women share their sexual and reproductive health with a medical practitioner. Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in female reproductive health, which includes sexually transmitted illnesses.

Do gynecologists screen for STDs during your yearly pelvic exam? Yes, the answer is yes. If your gynecologist does not recommend an STD test, feel free to discuss it with her and request one if it is appropriate for your case.

What potential STDs could be identified during a pap smear test?

A pap test, also known as a pap smear, is a medical examination that identifies precancerous cells on the cervix in order to avoid cervical cancer. Although a pap smear does not intend to test for sexually transmitted illnesses, human papillomavirus (HPV) can be discovered during a pap smear.

To scan for sexually transmitted diseases, a different testing approach is necessary.

The following STDs can be tested for at your yearly visit:

Women health

Does it lead to screening for a potential STD by having a pap smear test?

The most important distinction is that a pap test looks for precancerous cells in the cervix caused by HPV. For a pap test, the doctor widens the vagina with a speculum before swabbing the exterior and interior of the cervix to get a sample of cervical cells. The sample is checked for precancerous cells, which are cells that exhibit any abnormalities or alterations that, if left untreated, might progress to cervical cancer.

Untreated HPV, a prevalent STD, could be the leading cause of cervical cancer. A pap smear test, on the other hand, does not tell you whether you have HPV. This advocates for additional and distinct testing, which may or may not be performed concurrently with the pap test. If your pap test findings are ambiguous or abnormal, your doctor may offer an HPV test to see if this was the reason.  While researchers are working on at-home solutions, a pap test currently requires an in-person visit to the doctor.

How could you perform self-testing for a variety of STDs?

A range of STI testing kits which include everything you need to gather swabs, urine samples, or blood tests on your own. Because various STIs necessitate different forms of testing, testing procedures are frequently mixed.

Does a pap smear test and STDs need regular screening?

Both pap tests and STIs necessitate routine screening, but when and how frequently you should be checked depends on a variety of criteria such as age, sexual experience, medical history, and past pap test results. When should you have your pap smear? All women over the age of 21 should be tested on a regular basis, however “regular” is a relative term. It is based on the findings of your prior test and if you are at risk for cervical cancer. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women aged 21 to 29 with no additional risk factors should get a pap smear test every three years. HPV screening is not required for women under the age of 30.

Discuss with your doctor over whether you should have a pap test or a pap plus an HPV/STD testing, and how frequently you should get them. If you are already diagnosed with HIV, another immune system condition, or precancerous cervical cells that were detected by your previous pap test, you may need to be examined more frequently.

Periodic STI testing is essential if you are sexually active. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advices to be checked for HIV and hepatitis C at least once. Pregnant women should be checked for syphilis and HIV, and all sexually active women below 25 should be tested for STDs on a yearly basis. If you have several partners, just started a new relationship, or have sexual contact without any protection, you and your sexual partner must get tested so that any STDs may be detected and treated before they progress. Further, if you have itchy or burning sensations around the genitals, patches or sores in the region, discolored or stinky vaginal discharge, pain when peeing, or pain during sex, you should have a checkup.

Alternative methods of screening for STDs:

Fortunately, there are several STD testing choices. What matters most is that you select the finest solution for you. Let’s go over the various STD testing alternatives.

Home examinations:

These tests are often obtained online or by phone and delivered to your house or picked up at a drugstore. This alternative appeals to those who are concerned about visiting to a clinic for STD testing, despite the fact that the validity of such tests is sometimes questioned.

Primary care physician:

STD testing can be performed during an office visit to your primary care doctor. You must seek the appropriate STD test and make an appointment to be tested.

The emergency room:

Approaching the Emergency for STD testing is an option for those who are concerned about their privacy or who are experiencing symptoms and need answers quickly.

Booking an online test:

When the individual’s privacy and the accuracy of the exam are important, online choices are preferred. Tests are selected and booked online, and an appointment, frequently on the same day, is scheduled at your local testing location.

See Also: Reasons Menopause Changes Your Blood Pressure


STDs if left untreated may also lead to long-term pelvic discomfort, reproductive problems, and pregnancy risks. Some STDs, such as chlamydia and syphilis, can be passed on to your child. STD screening not only protects you, but it also protects your current or prospective partners. If you get tested on a regular basis, you can determine and treat the STD and prevent it from spreading to others.

A pap smear test does not assist in the detection of STDs. Yet, it is hard to know everything regarding pap smear tests and STDs, so discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor. Inquire about screening, or request particular tests if you believe you require them. Knowing what conditions, you may have, would allow you to take the required next measures.

Family Medicine Austin

STDs or STIs are frequent illnesses that individuals inadvertently spread. Many simple, safe, and easily accessible tests can aid in the prevention of additional transmission and health consequences. Instead of the previous term STDs, many clinicians now refer to these disorders as STIs. The importance of early discovery and treatment in preventing transmission and consequences cannot be overstated. Regular testing is essential, and healthcare experts can provide advice on STI tests. If consumers are not comfortable doing so, several clinics, pharmacies, or businesses can offer discreet, free, and low testing. This blog covers around when, where, and what doctor to see for STDs.

Significance of STD testing:

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every five persons in the United States has a STI, with over half of those affected being young people aged 14–24. Treatments are easily available, allowing patients to obtain assistance from STD testing doctors as soon as possible.

Routine STI testing by a recognized STD testing doctor is necessary since early discovery and therapy can help avoid health consequences. After recognizing symptoms, many people would consider getting a STI test. Some people, however, may be unaware they have a STI since some illnesses, such as chlamydia, may well not exhibit any symptoms.

Some STIs might cause long-term health concerns if left untreated. Various STIs, for example, can cause infertility, pregnancy difficulties, and some malignancies are capable of causing pain. Each STI has a varied incubation period, which refers to the time it would take for symptoms to manifest. In certain circumstances, testing can discover a STI within a few days, whilst other STIs may not be detected for months. Many STIs may be treated if caught early, and drugs are available to help control the symptoms of others.

Women health

Who should get tested for STDs?

Sexually active persons should receive a STI test once a year, according to the CDC. However, different people may require various tests, so a doctor or another health expert can assist identify to see which tests are required.

Some experts believe that persons who are at a higher risk, like as pregnant women or those who have several or anonymous partners, should undergo more regular testing.

What STIs are generally suggested to get tested for?

Sexual health clinics often test for the most prevalent STIs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. If a person knows that a former partner tested positive for a certain STI, it is recommended that they be tested for the same STD. A person can also talk to a healthcare practitioner about their sexual and STD testing history, and they can get advice and recommendations on relevant tests.

Where and What doctor to see for STD testing?

As provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare, Medicaid, and also most insurance providers normally cover some STI tests. Some people prefer to go to their doctor for STD testing or a sexual health clinic for a STI test, but others prefer at-home testing. According to a 2019 research, at-home testing kits are more widely available, which is likely to lead to increasing rates of diagnosis and treatment.

Individuals have several alternatives for STI testing, several of which are as follows:

Primary care providers` clinic:

Most primary care providers have STI screening facilities including STD testing doctors. A health practitioner can collect samples using swabs, urine, or blood samples based on the patients` history and lab results.

Some clinics can do on-site testing, while others transfer the specimens to a laboratory. Results might be expected in a few days or maybe a week. Doctors may give antibiotics or antiviral drugs based on the results.

Visiting a doctor for STI screening and treatment, on the other hand, can be costly, costing between $50 and $200 if you do not have health insurance. Before going to the doctor, people should double-check their insurance coverage and co-pays.

Community health centers and clinics:

Testing services for STIs by doctors may be available at several city health facilities or community clinics. Many provide appointment as well as walk-in services.

Aside from free STI testing and treatment, health clinics also offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), an HIV prevention therapy. They may also include family planning services, counseling, and free condoms to safeguard against STIs.

Many urgent care clinics can provide discrete, rapid diagnosis and treatment for those who may not want to see their main care practitioner. However, several of these facilities lack lab and diagnostic testing capabilities.

For what doctor to see for urgent attention in case of STDs adverse effects, urgent care providers will also prescribe the necessary drugs. However, if the STI has advanced beyond what prescription medicine can cure, persons may need to consult with their healthcare practitioners.

Laboratory and home-based testing:

Some providers provide individuals the option of purchasing at-home test kits or scheduling an online reservation and doing the test in person at one of their laboratories. Other providers may enable a customer to select a specific test from the list of available tests on their website.

Kit prices vary depending on the type of test and the provider, but they normally run from $49 to $249, with costlier choices testing for a broader variety of STIs. The majority of insurance companies do not cover the costs of at-home test kits. Most, however, accept contributions via flexible savings accounts (FSAs) or health savings accounts (HSAs). At-home test samples are subjected to the same examination as lab test samples and are just as reliable.

See Also: 5 Stds You Can Have Without Any Symptoms

Bottom line:

This blog overall covers the significance of STIs testing and what doctor to see for STI or STD testing and urgent care. With early discovery and action, STIs are usually manageable and treatable. There are several STI testing alternatives available, allowing people to check themselves on a regular basis. Untreated STIs can have long-term effects on a person’s reproductive and health. To avoid spreading and getting a STI, use condoms or other safety precaution tools like birth control measures during sex in addition to frequent testing.

Family Medicine Austin

Even though sexual awareness is higher than it has ever been, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 540 out of every 100,000 people in the United States have had chlamydia in 2020. The actual number is much higher, as most cases go unreported and undiagnosed. This raises an important concern about the quality of information that is available about chlamydia out there.

The misinformation on social media has generated numerous chlamydia myths which are causing people to engage in unsafe sexual practices, hence, putting their health at risk. This article debunks 7 such widespread myths that contribute to the rising numbers of chlamydia infections.


Myth 1: Only Women Get Chlamydia

Both women and men are susceptible to this sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, chlamydia is twice more widespread among women than men. It’s because of various anatomical differences; the most important of which is that the vaginal and vulva lining is much thinner than the skin surrounding the penis, making bacterial transmission more rapid among women.

Moreover, a man having sex with an infected woman could also contract chlamydia, resulting in long-term detriments if left untreated. Moreover, men who have sex with men are more likely to get this disease than heterosexual males.


Myth 2: Your Body Will Treat Chlamydia By Itself

Unlike flu or a common cold, the body’s immune system cannot destroy chlamydia by itself. If you are wondering how to get rid of chlamydia, you require medical intervention in the form of antibiotics.

Many a time, it is possible that the symptoms may go away in some people without the use of antibiotics, but the infection stays. There have also been instances in which the disease itself disappears too, but that is an exception and not the rule.

You mustn’t pay heed to these chlamydia myths because untreated chlamydia could develop into life-threatening conditions, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women, which are characterized by irreversible scarring of the female genital tract. This may result in chronic pain, infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and in the case of pregnant women, premature, stillborn, or abnormal babies.

Other outcomes of long-term chlamydia include reactive arthritis (affecting joints and eyes) and liver inflammation in both men and women, and epididymitis (inflammation of the duct that stores sperm), swelling, and pain in the testicles, and infertility (not as common as female infertility) in men.

Therefore, if you think that you have contracted chlamydia, visit a healthcare professional, get tested and obtain an antibiotic treatment plan as soon as possible.


Myth 3: Chlamydia Can Only Be Transmitted Via Vaginal Intercourse

Consider it a rule of thumb that all sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can be transmitted vaginally can also be communicated via oral or anal sex. Contrary to popular chlamydia myths, bodily fluids are exchanged in these forms of sexual intercourse too whereby the bacteria can enter through the tiny cuts and tears in the mouth or anus.

The risk of transmission via oral and anal sex is higher than that in vaginal sex. Besides transmitting true chlamydia, the mouth to genital contact may also result in a non-severe form of chlamydia called pharyngeal chlamydia, throat chlamydia, or mouth chlamydia.

Mouth chlamydia is largely asymptomatic but may be accompanied by a swollen throat, mouth pain, and sores in the mouth.

To prevent this transmission, it is recommended you wear condoms before anal sex and a dental dam before oral. If the latter is inconvenient, there are flavored condoms available for use during fellatio instead.  



Myth 4: You Can Only Get Chlamydia Once

Unlike infectious diseases such as mumps or chickenpox, chlamydia does not generate strong enough secondary immunity in your body that prevents a second outbreak. You could contract chlamydia every time you engage in unprotected sex with an affected individual, which is why you should wear a condom when you have sex with someone whose STI status you are not aware of.

Moreover, you should get routinely tested for chlamydia every 3 months, and if you test positive, your partner should be treated at the same time as you. Both of you should figure out how to get rid of chlamydia before resuming sexual activities.


Myth 5: You Can Contract Chlamydia from A Toilet Seat

Despite being one of the most widely believed chlamydia myths, there is no truth to this as the bacterium causing chlamydia does not have a long lifespan in a dry condition outside the human body.

It also does not spread via casual contact, hugging, kissing, sharing clothes, and utensils, and swimming in the same pool. Water droplets touching your skin cannot give you chlamydia, as they need to touch the inner lining of your genitalia.

This is the reason why sex toys are the only shareable objects that can cause chlamydia, besides intimate sexual contact without a condom. 


Myth 6: It Is Easy To Know Whether Someone Does or Does Not Have Chlamydia

As around 50% of the men and 75% of the women who test positive for chlamydia are asymptomatic, there is absolutely no merit to this chlamydia myth. While some men may experience painful testicles and penile discharge, and women may face a burning sensation during peeing, most people exhibit none of these symptoms.

In some people, the appearance of symptoms may take 1 to 3 weeks after exposure while in others, it may take as long as several months. This widespread disparity makes it impossible to deduce with certainty whether someone has chlamydia. According to CDC, one in five people in the US has an STD.

Thus, it is advisable to get urine or a swab test done immediately if chlamydia is suspected, rather than believing these chlamydia myths and judging by your instincts. 


Myth 7: You Only Need To Get Tested If You Have Had Multiple Sexual Partners

You have a 30% chance of contracting STI within the first sexual encounter, which is why the number of sexual encounters or sexual partners does not affect your ability to contract this infection.

What matters is whether you had unprotected sex with someone whose chlamydia status you are not familiar with, in which case you should get tested as soon as possible, even if it is only one sexual partner.

See Also: How STDs Impact Women and Men Differently

The Takeaway

Now that you know which information about chlamydia is true and what you need to stop believing in, you must incorporate these safety measures into your sexual lifestyle. It is better to adopt certain measures to prevent it, rather than worrying about how to get rid of chlamydia.

Untreated chlamydia can have life-changing repercussions hence, you should get routinely tested, inquire all prospective sexual partners about their STI status, and use a condom. While a pill or an intrauterine device may prevent pregnancies, it is the use of a condom that will prevent a chlamydia infection.

Family Medicine Austin

The growing number of sexual health awareness campaigns across the world and popular shows like Netflix’s Sex Education, among others, are debunking several sexual health myths. However, there still is a lot of misinformation around this space because, in numbers, 2021 saw the highest rate for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the U.S. of all time and that too for the sixth consecutive year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 2.8 million cases of the most common STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, and a higher prevalence rate for women.

Let’s talk about how STDs affect men and women differently.

Greater risk of infection

Women, by their anatomy, are more susceptible to contract sexually transmitted diseases from their male partner than the other way around. This is due to numerous biological reasons that include:

Therefore, women will most likely develop a disease after intercourse with an infected individual while a man won’t.

Delayed diagnosis

Even though men are notorious for a lack of hygiene and self-care, they have a better likelihood of diagnosing an STD before it is too late. According to the CDC, most women with gonorrhea, one of the most common bacterial STD, do not experience any symptoms.

If and when they do exhibit some of them, they may fade without eradicating the infection but on the off chance they do stick, it is almost impossible to identify it as an STD.

Symptoms of most common STDs like herpes and chlamydia for women include:

While unexplained spotting almost always means an inflamed cervix due to an STD, it can often be passed off as irregular menstruation. Similarly, the symptoms mentioned above are characteristic of non-sexual diseases like yeast infection, a urinary tract infection, or vaginosis. They could also be caused by external reasons such as wearing tight underwear, eating spicy foods, or spending way too much time on an exercise cycle.

Similar to the higher risk of infection, their anatomy puts women in an unfavorable situation. Given the location of a vagina, as opposed to an externally visible penis, it is physically impossible to notice any lesions, swellings, or sores caused by most common STDs like herpes or syphilis if they are situated inside. The folds of a vagina and vulva make that task even harder.

It’s easier for women to overlook these symptoms – partly because of lack of awareness they don’t know what to look for — instead of getting tested for the most common STDs. This delay in diagnosis exacerbates the situation, as a disease that could have very easily been treated by antibiotics is given the time to develop into something much more serious, putting women at disproportionate risk.

Moreover, men do not visit a doctor for routine screenings as regularly as women do, which allows their asymptomatic diseases to go unchecked. While a woman may untimely notice something and alert her sexual partner, it is unlikely for a man to do the same.

On the other hand, urethral discharges in a man can only really mean one thing; a sexually transmitted disease. This prompts them to visit their primary care physician and get prescribed routine antibiotics for this minor issue.

The consequences on women’s physical health are more serious

As mentioned above, a late diagnosis can often worsen a situation. While the most common STDs like Syphilis could be life-threatening in men, if left untreated, it is mostly women who contract more serious problems. For example, the herpes virus causes painful blisters in a woman than it does in men. Similarly, there are other repercussions in women, all of which are accompanied by chronic pain.

Women health

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Around 10 to 15% of cases of chlamydia, one of the most common bacterial STD, develop into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Characterized by excessive scar tissue in a woman’s fallopian tubes, it can cause long-lasting detriments like infertility. CDC reports that around twenty-thousand women are infertile due to chlamydia or gonorrhea.

PID also enhances the risk of ectopic pregnancies, where an embryo is implanted in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. The number of these embryos that see birth is very low. If a baby somehow survives until birth, be it normal or ectopic, in a woman with PID, the child has a very high affinity to premature birth, brain disease, blindness, low birth weight, and/or deafness.


The Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the most common STD, may be prevented by vaccination or treated with medication if caught early. However, failure to diagnose it in time could allow it to progress into warts or cancer, which further means excruciating cancer treatments.

In women, it causes life-threatening cervical cancer, the 8th most common type of cancer but in men, it rests at 1% for penile cancer. HPV may also culminate in anal, vaginal, or throat cancer but besides throat, these too show higher occurrence in women.

The social stigma is much worse

Although it is men who give women the STD in the first place, society somehow portrays them as the sole culprit for it which, on top of the above-mentioned inequalities, takes a toll on their mental health. Of course, this is not as widespread anymore, due to the increasing awareness of female sexuality and sex in general, but it is still prevalent enough to make a difference. While it is seen as a minor inconvenience in the life of a man, women are often labeled promiscuous for having contracted an STD.

Despite the CDC recommendations for women to get tested for chlamydia once a year, the taboo nature of such a conversation doesn’t let a lot of OB-GYNs bring this up with their patients, especially in rural areas. This lowered ability to obtain information and healthcare further puts women at risk of the most common STDs.

See Also: How To Get Tested For STDs?

What should women do?

While this unequal risk to most common STDs may be scary, all of this is preventable if you take the right precautions. For starters, get regularly tested and consult your gynecologist or primary care physician if you notice anything irregular, such as spotting, a genital sore, pelvic pain, a new discharge, odor, or a change in the consistency of some regular discharge.

Moreover, urge your sexual partners to get tested before you have sex for the first time. If not, make your partner wear a condom. While intrauterine devices may prevent pregnancy, they do not work against the most common STDs.

Family Medicine Austin

The latest reports on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) shared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that America’s STD rate has hit a new high again for the sixth consecutive year. In 2019, nearly 2.5 million Americans had an infection of chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis while the early data from 2020 suggests that these trends remained unchanged.

STDs are a common occurrence but many do not have any apparent symptoms. If left untreated, they can lead to deleterious health problems such as organ damage, infertility, and ectopic pregnancies, in the case of women. Hence, you must seek help immediately if you suspect there is an infection.

STD testing is the only way to definitively know if you have an infection. However, the stigma around STDs prevents many people from seeking medical help, which delays its treatment and can cause the symptoms to exacerbate and lead to irreversible damage.

This article will explain all that you need to know about STDs, its types, common symptoms, and how to get yourself tested.


What are STDs?

STDs are caused by microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses that are transferred between sexual partners during sexual activity or other forms of intimate contact. CDC estimates indicate about 20 percent of the U.S. population (one in five people) had an STI on any given day in 2018. Moreover, half of the new infections were among youth aged between 15 and 24.

Annual physical and sexual health checkups are vital in the early detection of STDs. Many healthcare providers may not include STD testing in your annual checkup. Thus, you should always ask your doctor for STD testing if it is not included. If you suspect you have an STD, letting your doctor know at your earliest convenience will pave the way for a good prognosis.

While it may be difficult for some people, but the more open you are about your condition, the easier it will be for your doctor to provide effective and timely treatment.

If you are pregnant, you should still go for STD testing as untreated STDs can cause complications for the fetus. Hence, it is essential to get tested during your prenatal checkups. Moreover, survivors of rape or sexual assault may seek help from trusted and trained healthcare providers who can connect them with helpful resources and organizations that offer support and screenings.

Risk Factors

Several risk factors may make you more susceptible to STDs. For one, if you or your partner have other sexual partners, you may be at a higher risk for STDs.

Unprotected sex also makes you more vulnerable to disease-causing agents. Furthermore, if you engage in anal sex, then certain anal STDs cannot be detected using standard STD testing protocols. Hence, you must discuss your risk factors with your doctor openly so that they may make appropriate recommendations.


Types of STDs


According to CDC, chlamydia is the most common STD in the U.S. today. It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. There are no obvious symptoms, but they can be treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).


Syphilis is another bacterial infection that presents itself as a painless sore at the site of infection. It persists without symptoms for some time but can be treated with antibiotics.


Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It does not have apparent symptoms but leads to complications such as infertility and PID in women.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV causes viral infections in the genitals, mouth, and throat. There are several types of HPV, many being low-risk and not causing serious infection. However, high-risk HPV may lead to cervical cancer.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It attacks the body’s immune system, reducing its ability to fight infections. While there is no cure as of yet, early detection can help manage the symptoms.

Symptoms of STDs

All STDs do not have obvious symptoms and some of them may be confused with other common conditions like urinary tract infection (UTI) or yeast infection. Thus, STD testing is the best way to diagnose any possible STDs.

While different STDs may have different symptoms, some common ones include:

How to Get Tested?

There are several ways to perform STD testing. You can get tested at a hospital or in a sexual health clinic. However, many people abstain from getting checked by a doctor due to the stigma and judgment attached to STDs.

Lab Testing

Alternatively, there are also home STD testing kits available along with online STD testing resources. Home STD testing kits are of two types:


In lab-based tests, you can hand over a lab requisition to a testing facility which will then perform the test for you. Results are available over email within a few days.


Online STD testing kits provide the necessary tools, such as swabs, so that you can perform the test comfortably and in privacy at home. After taking the sample, you can hand it over to a testing center which will provide you with the results.

Pros and Cons of Home STD Testing

Home STD testing is a great option if you value your privacy. This means no awkward encounters with acquaintances at the clinic or testing facility and you can take the sample yourself. Moreover, you can test for multiple STDs using the same STD testing kit.

However, home STD testing may not always be reliable, and you might face delays in sending and receiving samples. Sometimes it is also tricky interpreting results if they are ambiguous. Lastly, you cannot get immediate treatment as you are undertaking the test on your own. You will have to take your results to the doctor and then wait for them to prescribe the required medicines. Thus, it is important to keep these factors and the severity of your condition in mind when choosing the type of STD test you want to take.

How Reliable are Home STD Tests?

Home STD testing kits undergo a thorough evaluation to ensure they provide accurate results. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) has also established an accreditation program for labs and testing kits. Thus, you will have to ensure that the CLIA certification is present while ordering online STD testing kits to know that they are reliable.

How are STD Tests Performed?

Most STDs can be detected in urine or blood samples. However, that is not the most accurate route in all cases. To confirm, other methods are also used such as physical exams, swabs, and pap smears.

Physical Exams

Combined with other methods like blood tests, your doctor will take you to a separate room and examine your genitals for obvious signs of STDs like sores, warts, and bumps.


Vaginal, urethral, and cervical swabs are commonly used to look for STDs. Rectal swabs are also used to check for anal STDs.

Pap Smears

Pap smears are mostly used to detect early signs of cervical or anal cancer due to HPV. However, abnormal pap smears do not always mean you have cancer. Your doctor may recommend a separate HPV test to look for possible infections.

The Final Word

STDs are fairly common, but if left untreated, they can lead to severe health problems. Thus, it is always advised to get tested regularly. While some people feel reluctant to go for STD testing at a clinic, there are many online STD testing and home STD testing kits available.

Although many STDs are treatable using antibiotics, they inevitably make our bodies more vulnerable to other infections and viruses that may not be curable. If you suspect an infection, you should immediately get tested to prevent its spread. Family Medicine Austin offers STD testing services as well along with other healthcare services, and the results are shared with the patients as soon as the lab results are produced.

Family Medicine Austin

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a severe public health problem that affects around 150 million people each year globally. In the U.S. alone, UTIs account for over 10 million visits to medical facilities on an annual basis.

Caused by a wide range of pathogens, UTIs are often accompanied by agonizing symptoms such as burning pain during urination, abdominal pain, fever, backaches, and more. While most UTIs aren’t serious, if not treated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.

Fortunately, UTIs can be treated easily with a prescribed course of antibiotics. However, high recurrence rates and increasing antibiotic resistance amongst uropathogens mean that antibiotics aren’t always effective. This is why experts, and patients alike, seek alternative methods of over-the-counter (OTC) UTI treatment that doesn’t involve the use of antibiotics.

While antibiotics are considered the golden standard for treating UTIs, there are still some precautionary measures you can take to help manage your symptoms better. In this article, we will discuss a range of OTC treatment options for UTI symptoms to help speed up your recovery.

Women health

Why antibiotics are the golden standard?

Urinary tract infections occur due to an external bacterial infection in the urinary tract of a body. The most common treatment option is a course of antibiotic therapy that targets the pathogens and the bacteria causing the infection.

The appropriate antibiotic course leads to higher symptomatic and bacteriological cure rates and significantly reduces the chances of reinfection. The types of antibiotics prescribed as the first line of treatment are based upon the type of bacteria found in your urine after the urine analysis, your health status, and the severity of the infection.

Treatment concerns for antibiotics

While most UTIs can be effectively managed and treated with a course of antibiotics, more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to different types of antibiotics due to mutations in their genetic code. Every time you take an antibiotic, the bacteria that are in your system are more likely to adapt and mutate and become resistant to the administered antibiotic. And since recurrence rates in the case of UTIs are high, it’s a strong possibility that an antibiotic may not be effective every time. Many antibiotics such as ampicillin, amoxicillin, and sulfonamides are no longer effective against stronger mutated bacteria and hence are not a good choice for combatting these infections.

Antibiotics can also have adverse effects on the flora of the gut and the vagina. Many antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones cannot be prescribed to pregnant women because of the concerns that they might have a possible toxic effect on the fetus.

Other health risks and adverse effects associated with antibiotics for the treatment of urinary tract infections include extreme allergic reactions and numerous side effects. These can include:

Another potential risk of taking antibiotics is that they might destroy some of the good bacteria residing in your system that help with your systematic bodily functions without harming you. The death of these bacteria opens up the passageway to a whole new range of possible infections.

Consequently, evolving practice is looking for alternative forms of OTC UTI treatment to manage the symptoms of the infection while also reducing antibiotic use. However, it is important to note that while the use of antibiotics may have its side effects, they are still considered to be the best and the fastest means of treating a UTI. Your doctor will be able to better prescribe you a course of antibiotics based on the bacteria found in your urinalysis.

OTC UTI treatment options

UTIs are typically treated with a course of antibiotics that may run for a single day or a course of 7 days but usually lasts at an average of 1-3 days for uncomplicated urinary tract infections. However, some infections might not even need a course of antibiotics and may cease to exist. But, while treatment of UTIs without antibiotics may be a possible prospect in the future, for now, only a few equally effective OTC UTI treatments are available that can help a patient manage their symptoms. These include:

Hydration: Although not exactly an OTC UTI treatment method, hydration is still the key to treating a UTI quickly. If you’ve contracted a UTI, it is important to have fluids as frequently as possible so that you urinate more frequently and the harmful bacteria are flushed out of your urinary tract through natural means. This option means curing your symptoms without the use of medication.

OTC UTI treatment: Key takeaway

Women are prone to contracting a urinary tract infection at least once in their life. Certain UTIs do not need treatment if they are diagnosed on time and if the symptoms are cared for, however, some UTIs require medical intervention in the form of antibiotics.

While antibiotics are the standard treatment for UTIs, researchers are looking for better OTC treatment options for UTI symptoms that might eliminate their need. Several OTC UTI treatment drugs help prevent and manage UTI symptoms but should never be considered a replacement to prescribed antibiotics. The only clinically proven cure for a UTI is a prescribed antibiotic and nothing else as of yet.

If you think you have a UTI, you may visit Family Medicine Austin and consult our healthcare experts. It is always advised to avoid self-treatment and seek medical help.

Family Medicine Austin

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At Family Medicine Austin, we provide preventive, diagnostic, and disease management care for families. Our expert providers offer personalized, patient-centered services to achieve your health goals. Come see us today for comprehensive care that caters to your needs.


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IMPORTANT! All information presented in this website is intended for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained herein is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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