Doctors May Be Missing Cases Of Gonorrhea And Chlamydia In Women With Genital-Only STI Screenings, Study Finds
Where were you last tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)*? I'm not talking about the clinic, I mean on your body. If you're a woman chances are you have been tested through vaginal swabs and/or blood work, but a recent study shows that genital-only STI screening might not be enough. Published in the Journal of the American Sexually Transmitted Disease Association, this study challenged the current method of testing which recommends only gay men or those who are HIV positive receive anal or oral testing. But women can also be infected with an STI outside of the genitals, which means that you could be carrying gonorrhea or chlamydia in an area like your throat and it won't be picked up by the standard tests.
The scary part, as Cosmopolitan points out, is when those infections are outside of your genitals you are unlikely to have any symptoms, meaning you probably have no idea know you are infected and you could be putting yourself and others at risk. And it may be more common than you think. This study looked at 10,000 patients in Baltimore and found that if the women in the group had only had been tested vaginally they would have missed almost 14 percent of chlamydia and almost 30 percent of gonorrhea cases. Thirty percent. Yikes.
The good news is that gonorrhea and chalmydia are both treatable, but the bad news is they can have damaging effects if left untreated. If you're someone who regularly engages in anal or oral sex you should ask about more thorough testing options at your next visit.
* Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are only called diseases (STDs) when they cause symptoms, and many STIs don’t have any symptoms.