Getting tested for an STI: Your guide to how it works

What is an STI?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that can be passed from one person to another during sex or intimate contact, and most STIs are passed between sexual partners through oral, vaginal, or anal sex—especially if you don’t have a Use a condom.

If you are diagnosed with an STI, you should avoid sexual contact with anyone until your treatment is complete. If you have sex, the infection can pass to your sexual partner.

Common symptoms

If you have signs or symptoms of an STI, it’s best to go to a sexual health service to get tested in person.

People with STIs often have no symptoms or take a long time to develop symptoms, meaning you may be spreading the infection to other people without knowing it.

The only way to know if you’ve been infected is to get tested for an STI.

STI symptoms can range from rashes, pain during urination, discharge from the penis, vagina or anus, and lumps or sores on the genitals and anus.

Some symptoms can also be internal – for example, pain inside your abdomen, testicles, pelvis or anus.

You can read more about the types of STIs and their symptoms and treatments here on the Sewwise website.

What is an STI self-sampling kit?

Many sexual health services in the UK now offer free STI self-sampling kits for people who show no symptoms or signs of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and just want a routine check-up for their comfort and privacy. Home.

These self-sampling kits can be used to test for common STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well as other STIs such as syphilis and HIV.

The self-sampling kit will arrive in the post in a plain unmarked envelope or letterbox-friendly box and will contain everything you need to take the samples and a Freepost return label to send them back.

You take the sample yourself and then send it to the lab for testing and get your results back in a few days.

Find out where to order a free STI testing kit and find other free online services here.

When should I test?

It’s a good idea to get tested, especially if you’ve recently changed partners or think you may have been exposed to an STI.

You don’t need a lot of partners to be infected, because many people with STIs have no symptoms and don’t know they’re passing the infection on to their sexual partners.

Regular testing for HIV and STIs is essential for good sexual health, and everyone should have an STI screen, including an HIV test, if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.

If you’re a student going to university for the first time or returning for freshman year, it’s a good idea to get tested before you start having sex.

Women with a uterus or ovaries under 25 years of age and other people who are sexually active should be screened for chlamydia in their sexual partners or annually during transition, and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men should be tested for HIV and STIs annually or every 3 After months if unprotected sex with new or casual partners.

Don’t wait for a postal test if you’ve had sex without a condom in the last 3 days and think you’ve been exposed to HIV – find HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) services here or you can get PrEP from A&E for out-of-hours support.

What do STI self-sampling kits include?

The contents of the self-sampling kits will depend on the answers you give about your sexuality.

Kits will include a combination of the following:

  • Blood sample – This will be used to test for syphilis and HIV. A lancet (a small needle) is used to prick your finger and you collect a drop of blood into a tube.
  • Rectal, vaginal, and throat swabs – these will be used to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. It’s a small cotton bud swab that you insert into the area for a few seconds and rub.
  • Urine sample – This will be used to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Your kit will come with instructions on how to best take samples and links to some online video guides.

Your test results are available

Self-Sampling Test Kits must be returned to the lab for analysis. Your kit includes a separately labeled Freepost laboratory return envelope or box.

Your personal details will not appear on any samples or Freepost labels, Postal Test Kits are completely confidential.

Your test results will be returned as soon as possible, often via text message – usually within a few days. If you have an infection, you will be given advice on how to get treatment and further support.

How can I get treatment?

If you have an infection, you will receive advice about treatment and further support. Usually, you will be advised on what treatment is needed or make an appointment at a local sexual health service for treatment if needed.

If you are diagnosed with an STI, it is recommended that you seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent spreading it to your sexual partners or experiencing long-term effects.

It is also important to inform recent partners that you have been diagnosed with an STI and that they should be tested.

Typically, treatment will include a course of antibiotics and you may need to pick up your prescription at a local pharmacy or attend a sexual health service in person.

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