Usually spread by sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be potentially life-threatening. Whether it’s an uncomfortable itch or a dangerously weakened immune system, STDs can spread rapidly, and affect your daily life if left untreated. Thus, STD checks in Singapore are essential in preventing the spread of the disease.
Untreated STDs may also have worsening consequences on your health. They can weaken your immune system and make you become more prone to other illnesses. In women, STDs may cause infertility, and STDs can even be transmitted to babies.
Thankfully, STDs can be prevented with some effort, and many of them can be cured.
Common STD symptoms
There are some commonly identifiable symptoms that you can look out for to ascertain if you have an STD. However, not all STDs show signs. Getting an STD check in Singapore is the best way to give you peace of mind.
Here are are some common STD symptoms:
- Pain when urinating
- Discharge and bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Pain or swelling in the testicles or abdomen
- Itching or irritation in the genital area
On the other hand, the symptoms of an HIV infection are slightly different from those of most STDs. HIV symptoms tend to be more flu-like. Here are some common symptoms of HIV.
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat and/or cough
- Painless sores
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Night sweats
- Unexplained infections
Note that having these symptoms might not mean that you have HIV, as these symptoms are also shared with other infections and viruses. The best thing to do is to go for an STD check.
When to go for an STD check in Singapore
You should go for an STD check if any of these circumstances apply to you:
- Your partner has an STD
- You have entered a new relationship and want a clean slate
- You have multiple sexual partners
- You are an intravenous drug abuser
- You have symptoms and signs of STD
- You have had a sexual encounter with a partner that you didn’t know
- You are a man who has sexual encounters with other men
What’s the general procedure during an STD check in Singapore?
When you go for an STD check, the doctor will first ask you questions about your sexual history. These questions will help the doctor to determine whether you need to get screened for STDs. While it’s normal to feel uncomfortable sharing private information and sexual history, there’s no need to be shy or embarrassed as the doctor is just here to help.
Your answers will then allow the doctor to recommend the most relevant STD test to you.
If you’re feeling anxious about divulging private information to your doctor, remember that the information shared will remain confidential. Laws like the Employment Act also prevent employers from discriminating against employees by wrongfully dismissing them on the grounds of HIV.
Getting an STD check in Singapore may be awkward and nerve-wracking. To make things better, you can consider getting an STD check in a discrete and comfortable setting at a DTAP Clinic. Through MyDoc’s partnership with DTAP Clinic, you can get personalised medical advice with DTAP’s doctors directly and remotely, using just the MyDoc app.
What to expect for different STD checks in Singapore
The tests you’ll undergo will depend on what STD you’re testing for. Here’s a general rule of thumb of what to expect when getting tested for the following STDs in Singapore.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted virus that can affect your immune system. This might increase your likelihood of getting other infections and diseases.
The virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids most commonly exchanged during sex. While HIV is an incurable disease, even if you’re infected withHIV, you can still live a long and healthy life as long as you get treatment to halt its progression.
If left untreated, however, HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is the late stage of an HIV infection. AIDS can reduce your survival duration to only three years.
Proper treatment can reduce HIV in the body to such small quantities that it can no longer be detected by standard blood tests, and cannot be passed on through sex.
A check for HIV is carried out through a blood test known as the HIV screening test. They look for p24 antigens which are present in antibodies and HIV.
These tests can identify HIV within 11 to 30 days of the infection. For quicker results, a rapid test can also be done. The rapid test uses oral fluid to detect HIV within two to four weeks of the infection. Results for the rapid test can be revealed in as soon as 20 to 30 minutes.
Unlike HIV which is caused by a virus, syphilis is caused by bacteria. The infection can remain inactive in your body for decades before it reactivates. If severe, syphilis can be life-threatening as it can damage your heart, brain and other organs.
The STD can spread from pregnant mothers to their unborn children. As such, early diagnosis is important to help prevent further damage to the body.
Syphilis can also spread from person to person when the skin or mucous membranes make contact with syphilis sores. It materialises in numerous stages, starting with a small chancre or sore.
After the chancre heals, you may notice a rash forming on your genitals. The rash may eventually cover your entire body. Typically, the rash doesn’t itch and is accompanied by sores in the genital area, or within the mouth.
The blood test for syphilis is called the Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR). There’s a 90-day window, which is the time that it takes for the result to show as positive after infection.
Therefore, it’s always best to get a retest after 90 days to ensure that your result is indeed negative. If the screening blood test returns positive, one of two confirmatory blood tests will need to be carried out to confirm the diagnosis.
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus, which can seriously affect the liver.
Most adults recover from hepatitis B. However the infection can become chronic for some people, lasting for more than six months. Chronic hepatitis B can heighten your risk of liver failure or cirrhosis, which can scar your liver. The infection can be transmitted through unprotected sex, blood transfusions, needle sharing and from mothers to their children at birth.
The symptoms of hepatitis B typically appear about one to four months after infection, though young children and some other people may not have any symptoms at all.
If you find out that you’ve been exposed to hepatitis B, you should contact a doctor immediately. You may be able to receive preventative treatment that could reduce your risk of developing the infection.
A blood test to look for hepatitis B will seek to identify the hepatitis B surface antigen or the hepatitis B surface antibody.
If hepatitis B antibodies are present in your body, it means that your body is immune to the virus.
If you’ve received a vaccine for hepatitis B and have antibodies in your blood, you won’t need to go for screening for this particular STD.
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia are STDs caused by an overgrowth of bacteria. The STDs materialise differently in both men and women.
In men, the STDs may cause discharge and pain when passing urine. Women, however, may not show any symptoms. As such, women with a potential history of exposure should go for screenings more often, especially considering that gonorrhoea infections can cause future infertility.
In females, gonorrhoea and chlamydia can spread into the reproductive system, infecting the uterus and fallopian tubes. This is called pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause significant damage to reproductive organs.
The STDs can also cause ectopic pregnancies, threatening the life of the mother and her fertility in the future. If these STDs spread to a baby during childbirth, they can also cause complications like eye infections (resulting in blindness) or pneumonia.
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia checks for men and women can be done with a simple urine test. The urine test checks for a polymerase chain reaction to identify the bacteria.
Men can also opt for a urethral smear if they cannot urine for at least four hours before the smear. A cotton swab will be placed within the urethra to collect the sample. The sample will then be placed on a microscope slide and will be examined for inflammatory cells.
Women can also opt for a similar swab. The swab will be inserted in the vagina up to the cervix to collect and test the smear.
Genital herpes is amongst the most commonly transmitted STDs. It is an STD that is caused by the herpes simplex virus. The virus spreads primarily through sexual contact and can lie dormant after the initial infection, reactivating several times a year. Symptoms include small red bumps or itching around the genital, anal, or surrounding areas.
There is no cure for genital herpes, and many people show no signs or symptoms. It’s important to go for an STD check in Singapore to be aware of any potential infection so that you can reduce the risk of infecting other people.
Genital herpes can increase the risk of being infected with other STDs like AIDS, chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Mothers with open sores from genital herpes can also pass the infection to her newborn as the baby passes through the birth canal. In unfortunate situations, this can result in brain damage, blindness and even the death of the newborn.
A test for genital herpes will not reveal the current status of the infection. Instead, it will indicate past exposure to the virus. This test is known as Type Specific Serological Testing (TSST), which will detect antibodies to the virus.
If your test results are positive, it can mean that you have an active infection, or that you’ve been exposed to the virus before. And if the results return as negative, it would simply mean that you’ve not contracted the STD or have yet to be exposed to the virus.
How to avoid spreading an STD to someone else
If you have reason to suspect that you have an STD, you should exercise responsibility and do all that you can to prevent spreading it to someone else. Here’s how you can do that.
- Don’t have sex until you see a doctor and are treated
- Follow your doctor’s treatment instructions
- Use condoms when having sex, especially with new partners
- Don’t resume sex until your doctor says you can
- Return to your doctor to get rechecked
- Ensure your sexual partners are also treated
With STDs potentially being life-threatening, prevention is always better than cure.
How to prevent STDs in the first place
It may sound prudish, but the only surefire way to prevent contracting an STD is to practice sexual abstinence.
This means not having any sexual contact, meaning no vaginal, oral or anal sex.
On the other hand, abstinence isn’t for everyone, especially as you embark on committed relationships and if you’re looking to have children. Using condoms will help to lower the risk of infection for all STDs, although there is no guarantee.
Even if you’re using a condom, STDs like herpes and HPV can be transmitted just by coming into contact with your partner’s skin near private areas.
That said, there are some things that you should and shouldn’t do to maximise the effectiveness of condom use.
|The Dos of Wearing Condoms||The Don’ts of Wearing Condoms|
|Use a condom every time you have sex||Don’t store condoms in your wallet, as heat and friction can damage them|
|Wear the condom for the full duration of sex||Don’t use oil-based lubricants like lotion, baby oil or petroleum jelly as they can break your condoms|
|Wear the condom before engaging in sex||Don’t use more than one condom at a time|
|Read the package to check the expiry date before wearing||Don’t reuse a condom|
|Ensure that there aren’t any tears or defects|
|Use only latex condoms|
|Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants to prevent condoms from breaking|
Limit your sexual partners
If you’re in a relationship with multiple sexual partners, ensure that your sexual partners are aware of all your sexual activities and that you are aware of theirs. Encouraging your sexual partners and their sexual partners to take up regular STD checks in Singapore will also help to prevent the spread, should any one of them be diagnosed with an STD.
If you’re in a committed relationship, you can mutually agree only to have sex with each other. You should also both get an STD check to ensure that neither of you have an STD. This is one of the most reliable ways to avoid catching STDs.
Maintain good hygiene
Sexual hygiene is integral in making sure that bacteria and infections aren’t allowed to fester in your body. Always wash before and after sex to make sure that you are clean.
You should also never share towels or undergarments, as they may contain bodily fluids which carry STDs. Always opt for disposable undergarments if you’re in urgent need of undergarments.
To protect yourself from infections, wash the area around your genitals gently with water or with mild soap. Making this a habit can also help to prevent other infections like urinary tract infections (UTIs).
If you haven’t already, you should get vaccinated for HPV, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. These STDs are best prevented by vaccination, and those at high risk of contracting them should be vaccinated.
Learn more about HPV vaccination in Singapore in this comprehensive guide here.
Get tested regularly
HIV can stay in your body for up to 10 years, without presenting any symptoms at all. You may have HIV without even knowing it, and later in life may suffer from a weakened immune system. So, it is vital to get tested every time you encounter new exposure to risk.
Read more about the symptoms and where you can go for an STD check in Singapore here.
If you have a drug or an alcohol abuse problem, you should seek help. Individuals who are drunk or high on drugs often fail to practice safe sex.
Thus, people with drugs and alcohol as part of their lifestyles are at a much higher risk of contracting STDs, especially if they have numerous sexual partners.
Taking the first step toward getting an STD check or treatment in Singapore can be easy, and more importantly, personal. Visit the MyDoc Patients page to find out how you can stay in the snug environment of your home while getting advice from a doctor in 20 minutes or less.