Everything You Need To Know About Getting Tested For An STI

Been putting off that appointment for agessss? STI testing doesn't have to be scary. We asked a doc to talk us through it.


You probably know how often you can go between manis, hair cuts, and bikini waxes, but it’s harder to remember when you’re due for certain health screenings.

But if you’re sexually active, you’ll need to go beyond simply using condoms to keep your sexual health in check, and that’s where STI testing comes in.

It’s scary and a bit morto though, right? Wrong, Dr Caitriona Henchion talks us through the sitch and answers your tricky questions. Turns out it’s totally no big deal.

STI Facts

Not all doctors test for the same STIs.

Some STIs can’t be tested for.

Many STIs have no signs or symptoms.

STI testing will only be done if you request it.

How long does it take?

“An STI screening can take around 30 minutes,” explains Caitriona. First, a doctor will ask you about your sexual history. Embarrassed? Don’t worry about shocking them – they’ve heard it all before. Once they’ve got the low-down on your sexual past, they’ll begin testing.

Will it hurt?

Caitriona says an STI test shouldn’t be painful, but may involve any of the following procedures:

  • A Physical exam – typically this includes the visual inspection of your vagina or anus for a rash, discharge, sores or warts.
  • Blood sample – this may be drawn with a needle or collected by pricking your finger.
  • Urine sample – It’s usually collected in a sterile cup.
  • Discharge, tissue, cell or saliva samples — A small specimen taken with a swab.

What does it test for?

“STI tests involve screening for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, trichomonas and herpes,” explains Caitriona. Sounds daunting, right? Not so. You may receive some results while you’re at the clinic, meaning there’s no agonising wait, and if you need treatment, they will give you the medication there and then. Simple.

What happens afterwards?

“A doctor will meet you to explain safer sex practices and discuss the outcome of your test,” says Caitriona. “And then you’ll get another appointment to come back for the rest of your results. The good news is, that some of the most common STIs can be treated with a one-day antibiotic course.” See? Not-so scary afterall.

By Jennifer Conway.


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