Q: I want to get tested for STI’s, but my buddy told me that you’ll jam a huge swab up my penis! Is that true!?
A: Fear not, my friend! Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, life is much better these days. The worst we’ll do to you now is make you pee in a cup.
STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing for men at the Student Health Center consists of three things:
- A physical exam to look for infections such as genital warts (HPV), Herpes Simplex and Molluscum Contagiosum
- A blood test to check for HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and Syphilis
- A urine test to check for Gonorrhea (GC) and Chlamydia (CT)
It’s that last part that you – and thousands of other guys – are worried about. We used to check for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia by inserting a cotton swab into your urethra and twirling it around 5-10 times. While you’ll get no sympathy from the ladies, who will rightfully tell you that they have to put up with a lot worse every year at their annual exam, no one would blame you for wanting to avoid this penile Roto-Rooter treatment.
Hence, the urine test. It’s slightly more sensitive for picking up Chlamydia (97.9% vs. 95.9% for the swab) and slightly less sensitive for picking up Gonorrhea (98.5% vs. 99.1% for the swab) but as you can see, both tests are very good and these differences are not statistically significant.
The urine GC/CT test is obviously much easier on you, BUT there are some important stipulations you have to follow in order to produce accurate results.
You should not urinate for at least one hour before we collect the urine sample. Peeing flushes the Chlamydia and Gonorrhea out of the urethra and we want the concentration of those little guys to be as high as possible. However, the test is based on DNA amplification so even a minute amount will be detected.
We usually get the results back in 72 hours, but many tests come back sooner. We used to send them to the Mayo Clinic, but now they’re done at OSU East so the turn-around time is a lot quicker.
In the last month we’ve had 48 men come in for testing and 1 tested positive for Chlamydia. This should tell you two important things: a lot of other guys are being responsible and getting tested, and these infections are floating around on campus.
If you’re sexually active, do the right thing for yourself and your partners – come in and get checked out! With no more swabs to fear, you’ve got no more excuses!
David Gray, Lead Laboratory Technologist (Ohio State Student Health Services)