transmitted diseases (STDs) have been around for a long time and continue to affect millions of Americans each year. Spread during sexual contact, these illnesses can have far-reaching health implications. With gonorrhea, infertility is a likely end result when untreated. With HIV or HPV, the implications can be even worse. While awareness of STDs has increased over the last few decades, there is still much to be done to ensure people from all walks of life have an understanding of the risks these different illnesses can pose.

What’s more, STDs can be more difficult to diagnose in women than in men.

One of the most important tools in the fight against these conditions is the ability to test for them. Different testing methods are now available, which can be deployed through testing centers around the Houston area – for example – or through your local doctor. The testing methodology for different conditions varies, as does the recommended frequency of testing. Nevertheless, early detection is essential in every case, to help prevent these conditions from advancing and spreading further.

Education is key to avoiding STDs spreading in future. Those who understand the importance of safe sexual practices will be less likely to contract and spread these conditions further. However, for the many who are already sexually active with many different partners, it is now a question of appreciating the importance of testing for these often-symptomless conditions.

There are a number of methodologies used in testing for STDs. These are most commonly used by professionals to ascertain whether a particular sexually transmitted disease is present. As such, different suspected STDs will require differences in the methods used for detection. The best starting point for this is to visit a specialist GUM clinic or sexual health testing center, where expert staff will be able to advise on the best types of testing, and the most likely condition you have contracted.

Blood testing is one way in which STDs can be identified. Samples of blood are taken from the patient and tested in the laboratory for cell abnormalities and antibodies. White blood cells, which fight infections, can be used to detect whether a specific condition is present. This can be used to identify whether the patient has a particular condition, as a result of the types of antibodies present in their blood. Similarly, urine samples can be given for assessment. Protein in the urine is abnormal, and its presence can indicate one or more STDs, depending on the exact test results.

Aside from testing bodily fluids, it is also possible to take workable samples through swabbing. Swabs can be taken of any discharge, or of any outwardly affected areas of the genitals. These swabs are designed to capture affected cells, which can then be assessed under lab conditions to identify the nature of any infection. Perhaps more intrusively, internal swabbing of the cervix in women or the urethra in men may be necessary. This can feel a little uncomfortable and invasive, but is essential for effective diagnosis and potentially life-saving treatment.

Some people are at a higher risk than others of contracting STDs, by virtue of lifestyle choices. For example, those who sleep with many different sexual partners are far more likely to contract STDs than the average person. This necessitates testing on a regular, periodic basis. Annual testing is a good start for anyone who falls into a high-risk category. This can help identify problems early, so you can begin to be treated as soon as possible.

Sexually transmitted diseases are all too common. There are tens of millions of cases in the US every year at best estimates, and these are continuing to spread. That may be in part due to increasing awareness of STDs, and an increase in the numbers of individuals reporting and seeking treatment when they believe they could have come into contact with an STD. But most experts agree that the spread of these conditions is mainly a result of poor protection, and a lack of swift and regular testing.

STD testing doesn’t have to be an embarrassing or uncomfortable experience. Specialist testing centers exist in your area that can provide the assistance you need in the first instance. Without having to consult your doctor, these services can help you test frequently in anonymous, non-judgmental conditions. The emphasis here is on identifying problems and advising on the most effective ways to treat for them. If you suspect you may have an STD, or if you are just looking to be tested on a periodic basis, these testing centers are often the best place to go so you can put your mind at rest.