Testing for STIs can involve a urine sample, blood tests, genital exams and sometimes swabs. Some tests are done in a clinic, but you may also be sent to a lab. Your healthcare provider will explain which tests you need. You can refuse any tests you don’t want, but the ones being recommended to you are in your best interest. Always ask questions if you are unsure.
Cisgender guys are often scared because sampling used to require swabs from the urethra (or the inside of the penis); however, with newer tests, infections once tested by this means can now be tested by a urine sample. Sometimes your healthcare provider will still recommend a swab from the urethra (to determine whether they have given you the appropriate antibiotic) when you’ve noticed discharge, it burns when you pee, or if you’ve had sex with someone who has an STI. This can be a little uncomfortable, but it’s over quickly.
At a minimum you should be tested for the following:
- Urine test (if you have had any type of sexual contact – oral, anal, or frontal)
- Rectal swab (if you have had receptive anal sex, i.e. a penis in your butt or you are having symptoms from your rectum such as discharge, bleeding, or pain)
- Throat swab (if you have performed oral sex on someone with a penis, i.e. you have had a penis in your mouth)
- Urethral swab (this may be recommended if you are experiencing symptoms or have had sex with someone with a STI – to determine if they should offer you treatment immediately and/or whether you are being treated with the appropriate medication).
- Blood Test (if you have had any type of sexual contact – oral, anal, or frontal)
You should also talk to your healthcare provider about being tested for the following:
- Hepatitis A (all men who have sex with men because of risks associated with oral/anal contact, i.e. rimming)
- Blood Test – You only need this test if you have not received a previous immunization for Hepatitis A. This test is not testing you directly for the Hepatitis A virus, rather, it is testing to see if you have protection (antibodies) against Hepatitis A. If the test is negative, it means you need to be immunized against Hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B (if you have had any type of sexual contact – oral or anal)
- Blood Test – You only need this test if you have not received a previous immunization for Hepatitis B. Most people now receive that vaccine in school. The test is testing for both the infection and to see if you have protection. Again, if the test is negative, it means you need to be immunized against Hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis C (if you have shared drug equipment or have had unprotected anal sex)
- Blood Test – This is testing to see whether you have the infection or not. There is no immunization against Hepatitis C.