- Sexual health is not only about avoiding diseases and infections but also encompasses physical, emotional, and social well-being. It requires a positive approach to sexuality, safe experiences, and the respect of sexual rights.
- STDs can cause serious reproductive health issues if left untreated, leading to infertility and other complications. Common STDs mentioned include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and viral hepatitis.
- Regular STD testing is crucial, especially with new sexual partners or multiple partners. Early detection through testing is the best way to prevent long-term health consequences.
- Urgent care centers offer convenient and discreet options for STD testing. They provide same-day, walk-in care or online appointment booking. A physical examination and lab tests (blood or urine sample) are typically conducted, and results are usually available within a few days.
Before we dive in, the quick answer is, yes, you CAN get STD testing at urgent care.
Some benefits of going to urgent care:
- You can get same-day, walk-in care
- You can book an appointment online and save even more time
- Urgent care centers can treat you discreetly
From the time you were in middle school health class, you’ve probably been aware — to some extent — about the importance of sexual health. You know that condoms are the only type of birth control that is effective at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But largely due to the stigma that surrounds sexual health many people don’t continue to talk about it into their late teens and early adulthood.
According to the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), the statistics on STDs in the U.S. are staggering:
- 1 in 2 sexually active people will contract an STD by age 25
- Nearly 20 million new STDs occur every year
- Half of the people who contract STDs are between the ages of 15 and 24
- Only about 12% of people in that age range receive STD tests each year
What is Sexual Health?
As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual health is “…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”
Obviously, there’s a lot more to sexual health than keeping yourself free from disease and infection. Still, not having an STD or STI — an infection caused by bacteria or a virus — is an important component of your overall sexual pleasure and wellbeing, as well as your physical and emotional health. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the physical aspect of sexual health.
Why is Sexual Health Important?
Anyone who is sexually active should be concerned about their sexual health. Left unchecked, STDs can wreak havoc on your reproductive system. This is true for both men and women.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that about 24 thousand women become infertile each year due to STDs. Typically, contracting an STD isn’t enough to cause infertility or other reproductive health issues. It’s when a sexually transmitted disease isn’t treated that the risk of reproductive damage becomes a problem. This points to just how important it is to get tested regularly, especially when you have a new sexual partner or have multiple sexual partners. Early detection is the best way to prevent an STD from impacting your future health.
The Importance of Getting Tested for STDs
Untreated STDs can have serious health consequences, according to Mayo Clinic and the CDC. Since many people with STDs do not have symptoms, it is important to get tested on a regular basis if you are sexually active.
Urgent care clinics offer a convenient, cost-effective, and fast way to get tested and start treatment for many STDs.
Remember, getting tested for STDs is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a responsible and important step in maintaining your sexual health. You can use Solv to find urgent care clinics near you.
What Are the Most Common STDs?
There are dozens of different STDs, some more common than others. They all fall into one of two categories: bacterial or viral. Here are some of the most common STDs, their symptoms, and possible treatments.
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Chlamydia, a bacterial STD, is the number one cause of preventable infertility in the U.S. Left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can permanently damage a woman’s reproductive organs. Many people who get chlamydia don’t have any symptoms, making it hard to diagnose without a test. This is another reason it’s smart to get tested regularly. For people who do have symptoms of chlamydia, they often include:
- Painful urination
- Unusual discharge from penis or vagina
Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics (which you can get ay urgent care). If you get treated for chlamydia, your partner should, too. If not, you run the risk of contracting it again.
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Gonorrhea is another type of bacterial STD that often occurs at the same time as chlamydia. Typically, if you’re being treated for one, you’ll also be treated for the other — just in case. Gonorrhea can also cause PID, so early treatment is important. Just like chlamydia, most people won’t have symptoms but, if they do, can include:
- Painful or difficult urination
- Discharge from the penis or vagina
- Mouth, throat, and eye infections
- Men may experience swollen testicles
- Women may bleed between periods
Gonorrhea can cause infertility in men and women, as well as spread to the blood and joints. It can be treated with a single dose of antibiotics.
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Herpes is a common STD that many people never even know they have. The only visible symptom is watery skin blisters around the genitals and not everyone gets them. It can be caused by two different strains of virus: HSV type 1 (HSV-1) or HSV type 2 (HSV-2).
Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2 and, unfortunately, there is no cure. Medication can be used to control outbreaks and lessen the likelihood of it being passed on to a sexual partner.
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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is the most common type of STD and at least 50% of sexually active people will get it at some point in their lives. Since there are over 40 types of HPV, it can be hard to pinpoint the symptoms of any one strain. Different types of HPV can cause:
- Genital warts
- Mouth and throat infections
- Cancers of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus, and mouth
While HPV cannot be cured, it can be treated. Even better, there is a vaccine that can help prevent HPV, as well as the genital warts and cancers caused by the virus. You can get the HPV vaccine, as well as any other vaccinations you need, at most urgent care centers.
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Syphilis is another STD that can cause serious, long-term health complications if not treated. It is usually spread by contact with open sores during sex. The rates of syphilis in the U.S. have been increasing every year since 2014, making it a very real concern. The symptoms of syphilis include:
- Small, painless sores in or around the vagina, penis, mouth, or anus
- Rash on the body, especially the palms of the hand and soles of the feet
Less common symptoms include:
Syphilis, like most bacterial STDs, can be treated with antibiotics if caught early — usually an injection of penicillin. For people allergic to penicillin, the treatment can be 14 days of a different type of antibiotic. Even if left untreated for more than a year, antibiotics can cure syphilis, though it will take longer.
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Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, is a common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age. It happens when the good to bad ratio of bacteria in the body is thrown out of balance. Women are more likely to get BV if they douche or have new or multiple sexual partners. Essentially, any activity that introduces new bacteria into the vagina can cause BV.
The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:
- Thin, milky discharge
- Discharge with a “fishy” odor
- Painful urination
- Vaginal itching or burning
Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with antibiotics — usually metronidazole or clindamycin. It’s very important to be treated for BV; having it can increase a woman’s risk of contracting other STDs, as well as cause preterm birth and/or low birth weight in pregnant women.
This STD affects women more than it affects men. Even when men do get trichomoniasis, most won’t ever display symptoms (though if they do have symptoms, they’re pretty obvious: painful urination and lesions on the penis). Women, however, commonly do get symptoms of trichomoniasis, such as:
- Frothy yellowish or greenish vaginal discharge
- Swelling of the vulva and labia
- Painful urination
Antibiotics can treat and cure trichomoniasis though it’s very important that everyone who has had sex with an infected person gets treated. Reinfection is very common.
Viral Hepatitis (Hepatitis B)
Hepatitis A, B, and C are viruses that can be spread through sexual contact but Hepatitis B is the most common. Hep B is also the most common cause of liver cancer. Like other STDs, viral hepatitis often doesn’t cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can be severe:
- Joint pain
- Hive-like rash
- No appetite
- Dark or cloudy urine
- Liver enlargement
Vaccination can prevent this STD but, if it is contracted, most cases can be treated with antiviral medications.
It’s important to remember that pregnant women who contract an STD can pass it on to their child. If you’re pregnant and have an STD, you should head to an urgent care for a same-day appointment to get tested and treated.
What Increases my Risk of an STD?
Anyone who is sexually active has some risk of contracting an STD. However, there are some things that can make it more likely. If any of these apply to you, it’s a good idea to get tested every 3 to 6 months, or before you have a new sexual partner.
- You have multiple sexual partners
- You currently have or have had unprotected sex
- You have not received an HPV or Hepatitis A or B vaccine
- You’re a woman
- You have a weak immune system
Can You Go to Urgent Care for STD Testing?
If you think you may have an STD or if you wanted to get an STD test as a precaution, you may be wondering, should I go to urgent care or my primary doctor? Many people choose to go to an urgent care clinic for an STD test if they feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to go to their normal doctor. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about getting an STD test but there are some benefits of going to urgent care:
- You can get same-day, walk-in care
- You can book an appointment online and save even more time
- Urgent care centers can treat you discreetly
Your urgent care doctor will give you a physical exam and evaluate any visible symptoms. To get an official diagnosis, you’ll be asked to give a blood or urine sample which will be sent to a lab for testing. You’ll usually have the results within a few days and be given a prescription for antibiotics to treat a bacterial STD or an antiviral medication to treat a viral STD.
The only time that you may be unable to be treated for an STD at urgent care is if it has progressed beyond what can be treated with a prescription. If this is the case, your urgent care doctor will advise you to follow up with your primary physician.
How Long Does STD Testing Take at Urgent Care?
When you go to an urgent care clinic for STD testing, the length of time it takes to get your results can vary depending on several factors. Here's what you need to know about the testing process, including some factors that may affect testing time, and the average testing times for different types of STD tests.
The STD Testing Process
STD testing at urgent care clinics usually involves a physical exam, talking about your symptoms and sexual activity, and taking a sample of your blood, urine, or secretions. The sample is then used for a rapid test or sent to a lab for testing, notes the NIH. The result time will vary depending on the type of test that is used. Some STDs are readily apparent during a physical exam and typically do not require a diagnostic test.
Some clinics offer rapid testing for certain STDs, which can usually provide same-day results. However, rapid testing is not available for all types of STDs, and it may not be as accurate as traditional lab testing, according to the NIH.
Factors That Affect STD Testing
There are a few factors that can affect how long it takes to get your STD test results, including:
- The type of test you're getting
- The lab's workload
- Whether you need to schedule a follow-up appointment
Additionally, if you're getting multiple tests done, it may take longer to get your results.
For send-out tests, the average amount of time it takes to get STD testing results is between five and ten days, according to Planned Parenthood. Keep in mind that this is just an average, and your results may come back sooner or later, depending on your specific circumstances.
It's important to talk to your healthcare provider about what to expect and any concerns you may have.
The Benefits of Getting Your STD Treated at an Urgent Care Clinic
There are several benefits to getting tested and treated for STDs at an urgent care clinic, notes the NIH.
- Convenience: Urgent care clinics are often open evenings and weekends, making it easier to get tested and treated around your schedule.
- Efficiency: Urgent care clinics provide fast, often same-day treatment for many conditions, including STDs.
- Confidentiality: Urgent care clinics are required to maintain patient confidentiality, which can be important for individuals who are concerned about privacy.
- Accessibility: Many urgent care clinics are located in convenient locations, and many accept a range of insurance plans.
- Cost: Urgent care clinics may be less expensive than visiting a traditional doctor's office or emergency room for STD testing and treatment.
The STD Treatment Process
When you visit an urgent care clinic for STD testing or treatment, the process may begin with a physical exam and a discussion about your symptoms and sexual history. The urgent care provider may then recommend testing for one or more STDs, depending on your symptoms and history. If you test positive for an STD, the urgent care provider can also discuss your treatment options with you.
Treatment for STDs typically involves medication, such as antibiotics or antivirals, notes the CDC. Some STDs, such as herpes and HIV, may require ongoing treatment. Your urgent care provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs, and give you referrals to specialists if necessary.
Does Insurance Cover STD Testing at Urgent Care?
Many insurance plans do cover STD testing, but the amount of coverage can vary depending on your specific plan. Some plans may cover the full cost of testing, while others may require you to pay a copay or deductible. It's important to check with your insurance provider to see what your plan covers.
How to Check If Your Insurance Covers STD Testing
To find out if your insurance covers STD testing, you can:
- Call your insurance provider: The customer service number is usually located on the back of your insurance card and can provide information on your coverage.
- Check your plan documents: Your plan documents may have information on what services are covered and what your out-of-pocket costs will be.
- Ask the urgent care clinic: The clinic may be able to tell you if they accept your insurance and what your out-of-pocket costs will be.
Keep in mind that even if your insurance covers STD testing, there may be additional costs for treatment or follow-up care. It's important to discuss any concerns or questions with your insurance company or your healthcare provider.
Frequently asked questions
Can I get STD testing at an urgent care clinic?Yes, you can get STD testing at an urgent care clinic. They offer same-day, walk-in care and the ability to book an appointment online. The clinics can also treat you discreetly.
What are some of the most common STDs?Some of the most common STDs include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Syphilis, Bacterial Vaginosis, Trichomoniasis, and Viral Hepatitis (Hepatitis B). Each of these diseases has different symptoms and treatments.
How often should I get tested for STDs?If you are sexually active, it is recommended to get tested every 3 to 6 months, or before you have a new sexual partner. This is especially important if you have multiple sexual partners, have had unprotected sex, have not received an HPV or Hepatitis A or B vaccine, are a woman, or have a weak immune system.
What is the process for STD testing at an urgent care clinic?The process usually involves a physical exam, a discussion about your symptoms and sexual activity, and taking a sample of your blood, urine, or secretions for testing. The sample is then used for a rapid test or sent to a lab for testing. You'll usually have the results within a few days.
How long does STD testing take at an urgent care clinic?The length of time it takes to get your results can vary depending on several factors, including the type of test you're getting, the lab's workload, and whether you need to schedule a follow-up appointment. On average, it takes between five and ten days to get STD testing results.
Does insurance cover STD testing at urgent care?Many insurance plans do cover STD testing, but the amount of coverage can vary depending on your specific plan. Some plans may cover the full cost of testing, while others may require you to pay a copay or deductible. It's important to check with your insurance provider to see what your plan covers.
Can untreated STDs lead to other health problems?Yes, untreated STDs can lead to serious health problems. For example, untreated Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility. Untreated Syphilis can cause serious, long-term health complications.
What increases my risk of getting an STD?Factors that increase your risk of contracting an STD include having multiple sexual partners, having unprotected sex, not having received an HPV or Hepatitis A or B vaccine, being a woman, and having a weak immune system.
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- Point-of-Care Testing For STIs (May 22, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7606737/
- STD Testing & Treatment. (May 22, 2023) https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-st-louis-region-southwest-missouri/patients/our-services/std-testing
- STDs. (May 22, 2023) https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/screeningreccs.htm
- Bacterial Vaginosis. (May 22, 2023) https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm
- Genital Herpes. (May 22, 2023) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/genital-herpes/symptoms-causes/syc-20356161
- Herpes. (May 22, 2023) https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm
- HIV. (May 22, 2023) https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.htm