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STD Testing at home – worth it?

November 21, 2019


Hey guys, are you interested in how you can test for STDs at home? Well in this video I’m going to be talking all about this, plus the top other six questions, that I get from patients all the time around STD testing. My name is Dr. Sam and I’m your online medical doctor. Hi. Welcome to SwiftMedNZ. On this channel you get all the information about causes, symptoms and treatments for lots of health conditions from a doctor’s perspective. I am particularly interested in sexual health, skin, men’s and women’s health. So keep watching and if you enjoy this video, please remember to subscribe and you can also hit the little notification bell, next to the subscribe button, so that you don’t miss out on any of our latest videos. So how do they actually test you for an STD? Well, it’s one of three ways – urine sample, blood test or swab. If it’s a urine sample, it’s the first void – meaning the first time you go to the toilet in the morning. You pass urine into a cup and this is testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. For a swab test, that is done usually by the doctor for men where they swab inside of the penis, or for women you can do your own self vaginal swab. Which is much easier and that tests for lots of things like gonorrhea, chlamydia trichomoniasis and other types of bugs. The final way is with a blood test and this is looking for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B and C. So what STDs tests do you actually need? Well if you have no symptoms, I’d recommend getting gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, syphilis and also hepatitis B and C if you’re at risk. So Hepatitis B is if you don’t know what your immune status is and hepatitis C is if you’re at high risk of catching it, through intravenous drug use or you’ve been previously incarcerated. If you have symptoms of STDs, then it’s best to see your doctor for a comprehensive assessment and they’ll suggest to you what swabs and tests that you should get. The next question I get is: how soon after unprotected sex can I test for STDs? Well it’s an excellent question and you should always wait two weeks minimum to have chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis checked for. But the other one you really want to wait for is HIV and hepatitis, which can take four to six weeks for it to show up in your system. So often people will get one lot of tests done at two weeks and then wait four to six weeks after the unprotected sex and check for the remaining HIV and hepatitis. Right the next one is a big question: can you have sex with someone who has an STD and not catch it? ie we’re talking about unprotected sex. Now the answer to this question depends on the STD. So let me run through it. For chlamydia, the chance of you catching it from someone who has it already is between thirty to forty percent with one encounter. And it’s more common if you’re younger. So the younger that you are, the more likely you are to catch chlamydia in the first place. Trichomoniasis, which is another nasty STD infection. Thankfully, it’s relatively uncommon in the general population, but and you’d know that you’d have trichomonasis usually because you would have symptoms (STD symptoms). If your partner has Trichomoniasis, you have a high likelihood of catching it – so between 60 to 80 percent of people will catch it off a long-term partner. We don’t have data for one-off encounters. The chance of catching gonorrhea infection from a partner from a single exposure is 22% and it’s completely eliminated if you use condoms. This goes the same with chlamydia and Trichomoniasis. The transmission rates for genital herpes is quite low so it’s less than 1% chance with a one-off encounter of catching it. Finally, HIV the relative risk of getting HIV from one off unprotected anal intercourse is in the realms of 1.4 percent for both heterosexuals and homosexuals. For people where its vaginal intercourse, its 0.08 percent per act. So again very, very small chance of catching HIV. Phewf! Well, that was really data heavy! I’m sorry about that, but I hope that that gives you some idea about the different conditions. How it can vary so much! Bottom line is if you have had unprotected sex with a partner, I would get tested for chlamydia because it has the highest risk of transmission. Lastly on to home testing – how do you test for STDs at home? And can you do this? Well there are a plethora of kits out there that you can buy online, from the internet. Where you can check what, whether you’ve got chlamydia and gonorrhea and HIV and all these other things. Bottom line is unfortunately, these tests are highly unreliable. What they do is they have high false negative rates, because they want you to be happy. So that you don’t have these conditions, but it doesn’t rule it out. So for me, I think it’s a waste of time and I wouldn’t spend money on it, because it can be false reassurance. The only way to get properly tested is to go to a lab, provide a urine sample and to provide a blood test. Over time, I’m sure the home internet tests are going to improve massively and will eventually become validated again. But I know in the States the FDA don’t approve of them and in New Zealand and Australia – online internet STD home kits they are so convenient and it’s such an awesome idea, but they really don’t tell you the answer to your question of, “Do I have this STD?” You can get a negative result and you can still have it. So I think please see your doctor, get tested properly or at least get a lab form to go and do the test at the lab – so that you’re getting proper results, where you can get proper treatment. If there are any other important points that you think I’ve missed, that you’d like me to cover. Please post it in the comments below and I’d be happy to do a video on it. You can also check out some of our other videos on infections, STDs such as chlamydia, genital herpes to learn a bit more those conditions.

1 Comment

  • Reply SwiftMedNZ May 12, 2019 at 8:57 pm

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