Luckily, technology in this day and age allows us to detect common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) fairly accurately. Some of the early tests used for the purpose a few decades ago have been enhanced and developed further. As a result, such screening options have become much more reliable and capable of delivering accurate results within a short period of time.
Still, infection mechanisms vary from one STD-causing agent to another. There’s always some incubation period during which the condition remains hidden and undetectable.
If you want to go for STD testing and get accurate results, you should be familiar with the best timeframes for getting tested. The following guide will provide you with useful information pertaining to some of the most common sexually transmitted infections in Singapore.
When Getting Tested Makes Sense
Most people aren’t doing STD testing as a part of their regular prophylactic routine. Chances are that you’re one of these people.
Do, however, consider getting tested in the following scenarios:
- You have had unprotected sex
- You are with a new partner and you intend to enter a monogamous, serious relationship
- You are a sexually active individual (regardless of whether you have one or more partners)
- Some symptoms of an STD have been bothering you (genital sores, pain, redness, swelling, unusual discharge)
- A current or former partner has shared information about being positive for a certain STD
Generally speaking, if you want to be in charge of your sexual health, getting tested at least once per year makes sense. If you’re considered a high risk individual (for example – you are a man who has sex with men), you should get in the habit of more frequent testing every few months.
When to Get Tested for Chlamydia
Chlamydia tops the list of most common STDs in Singapore. It’s caused by a bacterium and most people who become infected will remain asymptomatic. Hence, the only way to know that an infection has occurred for sure would be to get tested.
You can have a chlamydia test at any time after eventual exposure but doctors have a couple of recommendations to ensure more accurate results.
If you get tested sooner than two weeks after potential exposure, you’ll probably asked to repeat the screening. The infection could be difficult to identify in its early stages and waiting this much time will ensure accurate results.
Don’t wait for eventual symptoms to show up before going for a test. Research suggests that about 90 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men who have chlamydia will never experience anything unusual.
You can have chlamydia testing as a part of a combined STD screening option. In that instance, you’d be tested for multiple common conditions to rule out most of the risks.
When to Get Tested for Gonorrhoea
Gonorrhoea is another very typical STD that’s been on the rise in the past few years.
Symptoms of gonorrhoea will usually develop within two weeks of becoming infected. Still, one in 10 infected men and one in two infected women will not experience any symptoms at all.
The only way to know if you have gonorrhoea for sure is to get tested. Don’t rely on the symptoms – they’re very similar to those of other STDs and of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Doctors recommend waiting one week after the suspected exposure to get tested. After those seven days have passed, a gonorrhoea test will be considered highly accurate.
Still, don’t postpone your screening too much. The sooner you get tested and know your status, the easier it will be to receive effective treatment. Just like other STDs, gonorrhoea can cause complications when left untreated for too long.
When to Get Tested for Syphilis
While the initial symptoms of syphilis aren’t that troublesome and painful, the condition can lead to very serious consequences down the line. Untreated syphilis can result in nervous system damage, including brain damage, paralysis and blindness.
General syphilis symptoms will appear within two to three weeks of becoming infected. This is also how much you should wait before getting tested. The average incubation period for most people has been set at 21 days, although it could vary from anywhere between 10 and 90 days.
For most accurate results, get tested three months after exposure. Depending on the clinic you’re visiting, there could be high sensitivity tests capable of detecting syphilis earlier. This is why you’re going to get a consultation when you visit. The doctor at the clinic will recommend the right timeframe for a test and some additional measures you can undertake to protect yourself and take good care of your sexual health.
How Often Should You Get Tested?
There are general testing recommendations depending on your age, status and gender. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) all sexually-active individuals aged 13 to 64 should get tested for HIV at least once per year.
Women of reproductive age will also need to get annual gonorrhoea and chlamydia tests. For pregnant women, the recommendation is to get HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and hepatitis B testing in the early stages of pregnancy.
Anyone who has had unsafe sex should get tested in a couple of weeks after the encounter. Combined HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis screening is a good idea.
If you’re looking for a reliable opportunity to get tested, come to Shim Clinic during every day of the week (please check our website for working hours). We offer an extensive range of screening options that are bound to address your specific needs.