An STD or a sexually transmitted disease is an infection which is passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Sexually transmitted diseases are also termed as venereal diseases and may have many manifestations on the body. There are different ways of transmitting these diseases, some of which include vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
In most cases of sexually transmitted diseases, it has been seen that a person who has got infected may not experience any symptoms and often may not even be aware of the infection. The person may therefore potentially infect others.
Contrary to popular belief, STD infections have been in existence for a long time. STD testing of these diseases, however, is relatively newer. Since there are many different STDs, caused by different pathogens that behave differently in the human body, the testing for them also has to be significantly different from each other. There are many different ways in which STD testing can be performed.
Typically, when you go to a doctor to test for STD or to discuss the possibility of a sexually transmitted disease, the doctor will ask you some personal questions to assess the possible risk of infection. If you have been indulging in high risk behavior like unprotected sex, sexual intercourse between members of the same sex, or sex with multiple partners, it is possible that you may be infected. Anyone indulging in such high risk behavior is usually tested for Chlamydia and gonorrhea.
The doctor will then proceed to enquire about specific symptoms. Based on these symptoms, you will be asked to get yourself tested. In some cases, STD tests may be required on a regular basis. Inmates of state prisons, women who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant, women who are breast feeding, and men who perform high risk sexual activities with other men should also get themselves checked routinely.
In many sexually transmitted diseases, it is also necessary to undergo a physical examination. Unfortunately, sexually transmitted diseases are considered a taboo and therefore many times people who are infected do not speak up because they are scared of social disapproval. Some of the most commonly used tests for various STDs are swabs from the urethra of men and cervix of women, urine tests, blood tests, gram stain, testing of sores and lesions, blood tests to investigate the presence of antibodies, and the more popular tests for AIDS-ELISA and Western Blot tests.
Most of these tests are screening tests. These STD test results only tell you about the presence of an infection. More complicated and exacting testing for STD may be performed later.