Can STDs Be Detected During a Woman’s Wellness Exam?
For women who are between the ages of 21 and 65, a wellness exam often includes a Pap smear. Pap smear testing is primarily intended to detect early signs of cervical cancer. While many women believe that a Pap smear test can also detect many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), that is not always the case.
Specifically, Pap smears do not test for trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). These conditions can be tested for separately – upon request – through blood or urine testing. Sometimes, STDs produce symptoms and a physician will recommend testing based on the signs he or she observes during a woman’s wellness exam. For instance, trichomoniasis is often accompanied by a greenish vaginal discharge with a strong odor, and genital herpes outbreaks are characterized by lesions or sores on or near the genitals. However, many STDs are asymptomatic, which means that no noticeable signs occur.
Because the goal of a woman’s wellness exam is to provide a physician with a general overview of a woman’s health, a physician will typically ask a number of questions about the patient’s lifestyle and sexual habits, immunizations, and prior STD testing. Based on the patient’s answers, the physician may recommend STD testing.
A woman is also encouraged to request STD testing during her wellness exam if she:
- Has a new sexual partner
- Has had multiple sexual partners
- Has a sexual partner who is not monogamous
- Has had unprotected sex
- Suspects that she has an STD
- Suspects that her sexual partner has an STD
It is important to understand that a Pap smear test is not a substitute for STD testing. Therefore, if you would like to be tested, be sure to tell your physician. At South Tampa Immediate Care, we perform discreet STD testing in a comfortable and professional environment. If you have questions or would like to be tested, you can contact us or visit our walk-in clinic in Tampa, FL.