One Teen Educator, let’s call him John, had an experience with STI testing just a few months ago when he was at his annual checkup. At the end of the visit John needed to get his blood drawn for another test and during his time alone with the doctor, John asked if this blood test would also check for other things, like STIs. The provider told him this specific test would not, but suggested that he could order a urine test for John and then he could take it quickly before leaving, in case he did not want his mom to find out. John said he wasn’t really worried about his parents finding out, but it still made him feel really good that his doctor knew he may want his STI test to be confidential. It also really helped John feel more comfortable that his provider did not judge him for wanting to get an STI test. Overall, John said the actual test wasn’t very scary. Someone in the clinic gave him a cup and some directions that he took into a private bathroom that he could lock. Then, he just peed a little into the cup. John said he was surprised that they didn’t need a full cup and that also made it way easier! When he was done, he put the lid on and placed the cup behind a small door in the wall that went straight into the lab.
Another Teen Educator I work with, lets call her Mia, had a very different experience with her STI test because she got a pap smear and a vaginal swab. Mia said her experience was kind of awkward, because at first the provider was only going to give her a urine test, but she also had wanted a pelvic exam, so had to ask the doctor again to test her for STIs with a swab. The confusion was weird, but Mia is glad she asked because talking to her doctor about it easily solved the problem. In order to get the swab STI test, Mia had to undress from the waist down and lay on the exam table. The doctor used a speculum to make it easier to reach her cervix and then used this thing that looked like a long q-tip to get a fluid sample. She said it was a little uncomfortable, but the exam in general went really quick and Mia’s provider walked her through each step of the process.
Both Teen Educators got their results back a few days later and definitely think STI testing was worth their time because it has kept them both safe and healthy. If you still want to know more about the specifics about STI testing, we encourage you to ask your doctor, or check out this teen-friendly site - (GYT) Get Yourself Tested.
As Teen Educators, we think the more you know about the STI testing process, the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel asking for the care you need from your health care provider.