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Student Health & Safe Sex: Why College Students Need STD Testing

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we’re focusing on healthy relationships this month, starting with college students. Although Trojan’s 2013 report card reveals that some colleges are excelling in terms of sexual health, overall STDs are still on the rise among college-aged adults.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that gonorrhea and chlamydia rates are highest among 15 and 24-year olds, at 58% and 69% respectively. Overall, gonorrhea cases have risen 4.1% since 2011, and chlamydia 0.7% since 2011.

If these rates aren’t alarming enough, consider that they only include self-reported cases — meaning that thousands of STD infections could be slipping through the cracks. With serious long-term consequences at stake — including infertility, higher risk of HIV, and even death — it’s key that college-aged adults understand the importance of STD testing.

Continue reading “Student Health & Safe Sex: Why College Students Need STD Testing” »

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Why STD Testing is Important for Women

TEST SMARTLY LABS | Why STD Testing is Important for WomenIf you’re a woman who has never contracted an STD, you might wonder why STD testing is important for you. Even if you’ve only slept with a few trusted partners or one person, you can catch an STD without knowing it — even from something so innocent as receiving a kiss on the cheek. Many people are unaware how easy it is to contract an STD, especially from someone who hasn’t completed STD testing and isn’t aware that they have the STD in the first place.

When you consider that more than 110 million Americans have an STD and an estimated 19 million more are infected per year, STD testing doesn’t seem like an unnecessary step. The likelihood that you know someone who currently has an STD constantly rises.

Still, many women think that STDs can’t or won’t happen to them. Wondering why you should consider STD testing? Here’s why.

STD Testing: Why It’s Necessary for Women

Unknowing Carriers

You might think that STD testing isn’t needed because your sexual partner(s) will let you know if they have or have had an STD. But just because someone has an STD doesn’t mean that they know it — only STD testing will reveal the truth. Many STDs have few symptoms or symptoms that are easily confused with other infections, including:

  • GonorrheaGonorrhea symptoms include pain and burning in urination, yellow or bloody discharge, abdominal pain, or heavy menstrual flow. Without STD testing, symptoms of this STD are often confused with bladder infection.
  • Chlamydia: 3/4 of women who have chlamydia exhibit and experience no symptoms, which is why STD testing is vital. Those who do have symptoms may also confuse them with symptoms of a bladder infection — including abnormal discharge from the vaginal, a burning sensation during urination, and spotting between menstruation.
  • Herpes: Symptoms of this STD, including  sores or rashes on your vagina or back, vaginal discharge, headaches, fever, muscle aches, and pain while urinating, may come and go as the years pass. Still, even when you do not exhibit signs of herpes, the virus remains in your nerve cells and can ultimately increase your risk of contracting HIV — which shows why STD testing is so important.
  • HIV: Research has shown that 21% of people in the US who are infected with HIV haven’t undergone STD testing and are thus undiagnosed. HIV symptoms, such as extreme exhaustion, rapid weight loss, fevers, night swears, diarrhea, coughing, and yeast infections, may not appear for years. This means that HIV-positive people could be unknowingly spreading the disease to others.

With STD testing, you will know if you or your sexual partner(s) have contracted any diseases in the past, which will prevent you from further spreading the infection.

Affects of STDs

STD testing does more than prevent the spread of diseases — it can also help you get treatment more quickly, which can prevent your STD from resulting in a very serious health problem. From infertility to cervical cancer to death, there are many long-term medical affects of STDs that can be avoided with simple STD testing. These affects include:

  • Chlamydia: If chlamydia spreads to your uterus or fallopian tubes, it may cause pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This disease is not easily cured and can permanently damage your fallopian tubes and uterus, leading to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, or even fatal ectopic pregnancy. After a positive diagnosis through STD testing, you can treat your chlamydia and prevent these outcomes.
  • Herpes: If you give birth vaginally when you have unknowingly carried the herpes virus, your baby could suffer blindness. STD testing is key when it comes to identifying and treating herpes.
  • Genital HPV: Some strains of HPV are linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, and anal cancer, all of which have the potential to be fatal. When you and your partner receive STD testing, you can seek treatment for HPV if necessary.
  • HIV: When you contract HIV, your immune system weakens and makes you prone to contracting infections. HIV can lead to AIDS, a severe and often fatal autoimmune disorder. STD testing will help diagnose your HIV — and though there is currently no known cure for the disease, you can seek treatment to slow its progression.

These are just a few of the conditions that can result from STDs — there are countless other affects that could be treated or avoided by STD testing.

Get STD Testing Today

Ready to take charge of your health? TEST SMARTLY LABS offers comprehensive STD testing at many of its facilities nationwide. Click here to see if STD testing is available at the ARCpoint location near you.

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How do I tell a past partner?

Sexually transmitted diseases affect the body, but living with STDs can be stressful on the emotions, too. The emotions are heightened when past partners may be infected, too. If you’re worried about how to share news with a past partner, you’re not alone. There aren’t any hard and fast rules to sharing this information with a partner or past partner, but there are a some ways to make the process less daunting.

After having a positive test result for an STD, you should focus on your health. You may have a number of recommended treatments. Your other responsibility is to share this information with past and present partners. Since the risk is high that those partners may too have infected an STD, you must share and encourage past partners to be tested.

Before you share the details

You should know and understand the details of your STD before you contact any past partner. When you know the basics, you’ll be more prepared to answer questions and explain the situation correctly.

Preparing for the interaction

You can’t predict the path of the conversation, but you can prepare yourself. Get ready for the discussion by deciding how and when to speak with your past partner. Some may feel more comfortable talking on the phone, while others would rather meet in person. Make sure you feel confident with the details and specifics about the disease before you meet. This will make it easier for you to confidently share information. Staying calm in this uncomfortable position might be difficult — try to ease your partner’s fears by relaxing and staying calm and collected.

couple conversation coffee shop

The discussion

When you have spoken about the issue, give some time for him or her to soak in the information. Let him or her react and ask questions. Talk about testing and treatment, and make sure your past partner knows you are concerned and sharing this information in the interest of health.

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Ways to Prevent STDs

According to a study in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, more than 110 million people in the United States alone have sexually transmitted diseases, and 20 million more people get new infections every year. Not only are the physical and personal effects of these STDs astronomical–the lifetime cost of treating 20 million additional STDs per year is $16 billion! There are easy ways to prevent STDs, which makes these facts even harder to swallow.

Imagine the medical and monetary benefits if we focused on ways to prevent STDs. With the right education, people can understand how to change their sexual behaviors and prevent STDs. Read to learn more about how to protect yourself and your sexual partner(s) and prevent STDs.

Prevent STDs by…

Always wearing a condom or dental dam.

Ways to Prevent STDs | TEST SMARTLY LABSCondoms act as barriers to stop blood, semen, or vaginal fluids from passing between people during sex and thus prevent STDs. If your partner is infected with HIV, bodily fluids like these contain the virus, and if you are having unprotected sex, the HIV can spread to you.

Although even a condom does not prevent STDs 100%, risks are greatly reduced if you use the condom properly. Use the FDA’s condom shopping guide to pick the right protection for you, then be sure to store your condoms correctly, use a new condom every time you have sex, and follow the instructions for proper condom use. Get educated on condom use and prevent STDs!

You can also prevent STDs by properly wearing a dental dam when having oral sex with your partner. They work similarly, preventing the spread of fluids from genitals to oral cavities.

Getting yourself & your partner(s) tested.

Before you commit to having sex with someone–no matter how long you’ve known them or how much you trust them–it’s a good idea to go and get tested together and prevent STDs. You or your partner could unknowingly have an STD from a past sexual encounter. For this method to work effectively you must be willing to have an open discussion about your sexual histories. If you are both committed to staying open and healthy, it will be easier to prevent STDs. Check out the ARCPoint lab near you to get a private, low-cost STD test for you and your partner.

Getting treated or vaccinated.

Vaccination is another way to prevent STDs from spreading, though not all sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented using this method. Hepatitis B and HPV are some of the STDs that can be prevented by the use of vaccine. Most infants are vaccinated for Hepatitis B at birth, while HPV vaccination is recommended for males and females ages 11 to 26. Getting vaccinated will help prevent STDs.

If you or your partner exhibits any signs of sexually transmitted diseases such as sores in around the genitals or pain while passing urine, be sure seek medical attentions and adhere to the treatment prescribed by a doctor. Getting treated will lessen your chances of re-infection, stop the spread, and prevent STDs.

Prevent STDs today

Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent STDs–but if you follow the above tips for safe sexual interactions, you will still be able to enjoy intercourse with your partner and prevent STDs.

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“Masters of Sex” | Sex as a Research Topic

It seems that not long ago, it was rather uncomfortable to talk about sex and related topics in public places. To many members of the baby boom generation, this is still true, even though that generation is responsible for starting the ongoing sexual revolution. At the forefront of that revolution was William Johnson and Virginia Masters. Now their personal lives, as well as their research about sex, will be portrayed in a new television series titled “Masters of Sex.”

“Masters of Sex” – The Charactersempty bed sex research

William Masters was a gynecologist from Cleveland, Ohio. He received his medical degree from the University of Rochester Medical School. Masters studied the nature of human sexuality and the treatment of sexual disorders as a faculty member of Washington University in St. Louis.

Virginia Johnson was a sexologist from Springfield, Missouri, who studied music at the University of Missouri and the Kansas City Conservatory of Music. She transferred to Washington University in St. Louis to study sociology where she became an assistant to Masters.

Masters and Johnson

It was under Masters’ guidance where Johnson learned about psychology, medical treatments and human behaviors. Although Masters was the senior partner of this research team, it was Johnson who performed as the team’s workhorse, logging many hours to research human sexual responses.

Masters and Johnson were married in 1971, and they were divorced in 1992. Unfortunately, their divorce led to the end of their research. Nonetheless, their body of work on human sexual responses still serve as a blueprint for today’s psychologists, gynecologists and sexologists.

Masters and Johnson – Sex Research

In the initial stages of their research during the 1950s and 1960s, sexual research of this kind was rather shocking. They set out to have scientific understanding of a topic that was rarely talked about openly.

Masters and Johnson developed what is known as the human sexual response cycle, which consists of four separate stages: the excitement phase, the plateau phase, the orgasmic phase and the resolution phase. They studied this cycle of sexual arousal by observing couples and individuals engaging in sexual activities such as intercourse and masturbation. This type of research was definitely considered groundbreaking and taboo for their time, as participants walked a thin line of being labeled as either “daring” or “perverted.”

The discussion surrounding sex in the mid-twentieth century is in high contrast to today’s cultural attitude toward sexuality.

Today, it seems that talking about sex is almost as common as chatting about the weather or last night’s game. As culture shifts over the years, certain “taboo” topics become less risky and more appropriate for conversation.

The steps that Masters and Johnson took helped change our attitude toward sex. By analyzing the sexual experience and talking about it unashamed, they encouraged people to explore sexual topics and learn about sexual health.

Open up the discussion about sex

The show airs this Sunday. Check it out — you may learn something new. We think that opening up the discussion about sexuality and sexual health can be beneficial for all of us. Check out our advice about discussing STDs with your partner and the truths behind common sexual health myths.

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Discussing STDs with your partner

Discussing STDs with a partner is difficult for most couples. This is especially true when one partner has to ask the other partner if there are chances that he or she could be infected.

However, discussing STDs doesn’t have to be as complicated as most people assume.

Why do you need to talk about STDs with your partner?

Since many STDs have no noticeable symptoms, you and your partner may be unaware of any infections. That’s why the discussion is so important — when you feel comfortable talking about STDs, both of you can get tested and communicate freely about your health. Starting the conversation is the first step toward each partner being tested for STDs. This prepares you for a healthy relationship.

How do you navigate the STD conversation?couple discussing on couch

The partner starting the discussion about STDs should carefully approach the conversation. This is a sensitive topic for many couples, so it deserves your thought and preparation.When you’re ready to discuss STDs with a partner, think about the questions you will ask and the best time for the discussion.

Talk about STDs: Advice you need

  1. Use language that fits your personality. Don’t try to use complicated or professional language. Being comfortable discussing STDS will show your partner you are expressing yourself with confidence and assurance.

  2. Be yourself during the discussion. Use the conversation to show your partner that you care about the relationship. Stress how you care about your partner’s STDs status and proceed to assure him or her that the discussion is vital for your relationship.

  3. Inquire about the health of your partner. Ask if he or she has ever been tested for STDs before.

  4. Pick a time and place that makes sense for the conversation. Make sure you can talk about your sexual health freely and that you have enough time to do so.

Are you ready to talk about STDs with your partner?

Start the discussion with a testing location in mind. TEST SMARTLY LABS offers confidential and affordable STD testing at locations across the country.

Come to the table prepared. Talk to your doctor about concerns and educate yourself on the different STDs and symptoms. You can find information about STDs on our blog. Here are some helpful articles to read and share as you talk about STDs together:

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Next Time He’ll Think Before He Cheats … About STDs

Two things nobody enjoys thinking about:  a cheating spouse and STDs. However many times, those two things come together when cheating is involved. If it’s not one thing to find out your spouse has been cheating on you, it’s a double-whammy for many couples who have a cheating spouse with STDs. And according to research, it’s becoming more and more common.stds-flirting-ecard-someecards

Cheating + STDs

The Business Standard recently posted an article titled “Love cheats more likely to contract STDs” where a researcher was quoted saying:

“Our research suggests that people who are unfaithful to their monogamous romantic partners pose a greater risk for STDs than those who actively negotiate non-monogamy in their relationship, lead researcher Dr Terri Conley was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

The article explains that those in open relationships are less likely to contract STDs and suggests it’s because individuals who participate in open relationships tend to be sober and more “sexually aware.” The sexual activity is pre-planned, and therefore safe sex is typically practiced more, such as using a condom.  Statistically, those who are cheating on a spouse tend to not use protection. They also tend to use drugs & alcohol more than those in open relationships, too.

Does your spouse have an STD?

Monogamy is one of the best ways to prevent an STD (if both partners are free of STDs when the relationship begins.) However in the event your partner does cheat, it’s wise to consider STD testing for both of you to ensure you’re still protected and not at risk. No, it’s not a pleasant topic to address. And nobody likes thinking about getting an STD test. However it’s a non-invasive way to easily protect yourself from any more hurt and struggle. And if you’ve been cheated on, that’s at least one thing you can do as you rebuild your life.

Been cheated on? Worried you have an STD?

Find the nearest walk-in lab for STD testing today.

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