STD screening isn’t part of a person’s annual physical exam. However, for many people, it probably should be. If you are sexually active or engaged in other risky behaviour, it’s very important to discuss your sexual health risk factors with your doctor when you go to a GP clinic. To help you, we’ve listed down some of the important things you should discuss with your doctor during your visit.
1. The number of sexual partners you’ve had in the past years
Some doctors in a women’s health clinic don’t usually ask about the sexual history of their patients, which is why it is your duty to keep them informed about the sexual activities you’ve done in the previous years. Sharing such information with your doctor will help him or her in assessing your risk of acquiring certain types of STDs.
2. If you have a history of having acquired an STD infection
Disclosing a history of STD infection, if applicable, is crucial for several reasons. The most important reason would be is that you’ll know if ever you’ve acquired an incurable form of STD, and if you’re at a greater risk of developing other types of illnesses. Sharing this information will also help your doctor during your men health checkup at M Lam clinic in Singapore to assess your risk of developing a new infection – either because of the risky behaviours you engage in, or because you’re selecting sexual partners from a higher-risk pool.
3. If you’re sexually involved with someone who’s infected with an STD
If you’ve had sexual contact with a person whom you know is infected with the disease, then your doctor will likely ask you to undergo an STD screening test. If possible, let your doctor know when your partner was first diagnosed with the disease, as well as the activities you both engage in. For instance, if you performed unprotected oral sex on someone who has chlamydia, then your healthcare provider will likely ask you to undergo a throat swab.
4. If you notice any STD-related symptoms on your body
Not all STDs can be detected through a urine or blood test done at a health clinics; some of it are diagnosed through their symptoms. So if you notice any pain, discharge, itching, or bumps in your body, particularly in and around your mouth and sexual organ, make sure to inform your doctor. Providing them with as much helpful information would increase your chance of getting an accurate diagnosis.
5. If you (or your partner) have multiple sex partners
Knowing the number of people you’re sexually involved with, or whether your partner is involved with other people, will help your doctor in evaluating your risk of acquiring an STD. You should also discuss whether or not you’ve practiced safe sex with some or all of your partners, so your healthcare provider will be able to recommend a more suitable STD or HIV testing for you.
6. If you’ve engaged in receptive anal sex
Similar to other types of sexual practices, engaging in receptive anal sex carries risks. If you regularly perform anal sex, then you might need to get tested for various anal STDs like gonorrhoea and HPV. But do let your doctor know if you use condoms when you engage in anal sex, since doing so greatly reduces your chances of developing an STD.
7. If you’ve performed oral sex on your partner
Just like anal sex, oral sex also comes with its own STD risks. According to health experts in Singapore, engaging in an oral sex with your partner puts you at risk of oral or HPV infections, including chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Although these risks are not that high, it’s still important to disclose such information to your doctor – especially if your partner has been diagnosed with the disease in the past.
8. If you engaged in a sexual intercourse with the same gender
Men who have sex with men (who are not in a monogamous relationship) are at a higher risk of getting STDs like syphilis and HIV. That said, the STD screening recommendations for these individuals differ from other men. Their screenings are done more frequently, and it includes additional STD tests like rectal STD screens.
9. If you and your partner are planning to have a baby
Acquiring certain types of STDs can be dangerous for a pregnant woman and her baby, which is why it’s a good idea to get undergo an STD screening if you’re planning to get pregnant or is already pregnant. That way, you can be treated early on to reduce your risk of developing a fatal neonatal infection. Similarly, it’s also a good idea for men to visit a men’s health clinic that offers STD tests to avoid or lower the chances of passing the disease to their pregnant partners.
Fortunately, safer STD treatment options are now available to reduce the chances of developing foetal infections without putting the pregnancy at risk.
10. If you have other behavioural or health factors that may affect your STD risk
Apart from engaging in unsafe sex, health behaviours like douching or injecting drugs also affect your STD risk. Similarly, having health conditions or using certain medications that affect your immune system might change your vulnerability to the infection. Discussing these factors with your doctor will help in assessing your risk of developing more serious diseases like HIV, and in providing you an opportunity to learn new ways of managing your health.
Even if you’re not a candidate for an STD or HIV testing, do make it a habit to inform your doctor about your sexual health to protect yourself from STDs. So take note of the aforementioned details, and make sure that you disclose all the important information to your healthcare provider in each of your visits.