Many Canadians feel uncomfortable talking about their sexual health with trusted friends or even their family physicians. Did you know that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common? Over 125,000 Canadians tested positive for Chlamydia in 2017 alone.
A healthy sex life must include regular screening for STIs. Many sexually transmitted infections are present without symptoms. This makes regular screening for them all the more important.
Asymptomatic STI cases may cause complications by getting left untreated. You may also pass them along unknowingly to other partners. Read on to learn more about the importance of regular STI screening, free STI testing in Vancouver, along with where to get STI testing in Vancouver.
What is the Stigma Associated with STIs?
Societal factors contribute to enforcing the stigma around sexually transmitted infections. Many people feel deeply ashamed or guilty if they contract an infection. Although consent and positive sexual health topics are becoming more common conversations, positive STI status still carries a stigma surrounding feelings of shame.
This stigma must get challenged! Sexual health is a part of a whole body health plan. The medical community understands the importance of this, creating dedicated STI clinics in most communities. This includes plenty of STI clinics in Vancouver, BC.
Part of the stigma of getting STI screening comes from age. Many adults assume their sexual partners are infection-free or strictly monogamous. STI stigma can include believing that infections are the result of carelessness or poor personal hygiene.
Younger people might not be as educated about the risks of getting an STI. Almost half of the STI cases each year are found in the 15-24 demographic. When young people are at the beginning of their sexual life, they may not have the confidence to go for testing at their family doctor’s office.
The fact is, STIs can happen to anyone. And, at any stage of life. Ending the stigma around sexual health is important for promoting positive sexual health in Canadian society.
When Should I Get Tested for STIs?
While using barriers such as condoms and dental dams to prevent sexual infection is recommended, they aren’t 100% effective. Incorporating testing into your sexual health plan is part of staying safe and preventing complications. So, when should testing occur?
If You’re 25 or Younger
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common sexual infections in younger people. Both infections are usually asymptomatic and therefore give no indication that you require treatment. If you’re 25 or younger, and sexually active, you should have annual STI screening at minimum.
You’re Dating Multiple Partners
If you’re engaged in sexual activity with multiple partners, it’s important to get screened for STIs regularly. This means more than once a year. Casual sex requires using condoms and dental dams to prevent infection. But, some STIs are transmissible even with barrier use, so screening is still necessary even with perfect use.
You or Your Partner Are Non-Monogamous
Every relationship is unique. Some couples decide to date and engage in sexual activity with other partners. If you or your regular partner are having sex with other people, it is important to get regular STI testing.
Every time a new sexual partner is introduced into a relationship, there is a risk of sexually transmitted infection. Both you and your partner should schedule a screening with a practitioner after sex with a new person.
You Are Pregnant
All pregnant people require STI testing to ensure optimum health for their changing body and the growing fetus. This screening should include Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Hepatitis, Syphillis, and HIV tests – ideally in the first trimester.
Many STIs show no symptoms in the vagina or labia and therefore may be undetected without specific testing. While some STIs leave no long-term consequences if treated early, they can cause serious complications during pregnancy if left unchecked.
You’re a Sexually Active Senior
Part of sexual health stigmas includes believing that senior citizens don’t need STI testing. This stigma is a result of not seeing seniors as enjoying a healthy sexual life. All adults are capable of engaging in sexual activity and therefore need a sexual health plan.
Many seniors enter the dating world after long-term relationships end. Now, the rates of sexually transmitted infections are rising in the 60+ age group. Like younger people, every time there is a new sexual partner, it’s recommended to get tested!
You or Your Partner Have Injected Drugs
Using needles for drug use puts an increased risk for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV. If you, or any of your sexual partners, have ever used needles for drug use, you should get tested for STIs. 10% of all new HIV infections are caused by drug injection use.
Why Get STI Testing in Vancouver?
Taking control of this aspect of your health will prevent or discover a serious disease, which can usually be treated. Like going to the dentist or getting an annual physical, regular sexual checkups help keep you healthy. There is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed for asking for STI testing.
Your health care provider keeps your records confidential. Public health nurses may also help contact previous sexual partners on your behalf. Knowing your STI status keeps your body healthy for preventative measures.
Some common STIs, if left untreated, develop into more serious diseases. Such as syphillis – if left unchecked it can become tertiary or neurosyphilis. Research also shows that regular screening for chlamydia reduces pelvic inflammatory disease by catching it before a serious infection occurs.
Testing is relatively easy. Each test is different and not everyone will require testing for all types of STIs. Here are the common test methods:
- Urine samples: chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis
- Blood samples: syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
- Swab samples: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HPV
For people with vaginas, during a routine Pap test, your doctor will check for bumps or sores. Changes to the genital skin might be a sign of an STI.
Connect With a Sexual Health Doctor
There is no need to feel uncomfortable reaching out to an expert to take care of your sexual health. With confidential and easy STI testing in Vancouver, you can have peace of mind that you’ve taken the steps for good sexual health.
With Walk In, connecting with a doctor is at the touch of your hand. Walk In allows you to book a session with a Virtual Doctor online. Get your concerns addressed over the phone or through a video chat, quickly and easily.
See an Online Doctor for STI Screening
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