What are the symptoms of STIs in women?
STIs can cause a variety of symptoms. Some symptoms are seen in both men and women, but others are specific to women (Thuisarts, 2021). These symptoms include:
- Vaginal discharge that is different than normal (for example, a change in color, smell, or texture)
- Bleeding after sex
- Bleeding not during your period
- Pain the lower abdomen
- Wounds, warts or blisters on your labia and/or vagina
Note: STIs do not always cause noticeable symptoms. For example, many women do not experience any symptoms of chlamydia until the infection has gone untreated for an extended period of time.
When should women get an STI test?
If you recognize some or all of the above symptoms, it is wise to take an STI test. Additionally, your personal situation can determine when and how often it is advisable to take an STI test. If you often have sex with different people, it is recommended that you perform an STI test once every six months. In addition, it is advisable to take an STI test if you have had unprotected sex with someone, if you have had sex with someone who has informed you they have an STI, or if you want to have sex with a partner without a condom.
How do STI tests for women work?
Women’s STI tests usually involve taking a swab sample. On the product pages of Homed-IQ’s STI tests, you can indicate whether you are looking for a test for a woman or a man. For men, STI testing usually involves examining a small amount of urine. For women, a vaginal swab is performed. When checking for infections of the throat or anus, both men and women will perform a swab of the area they want to test.
Most STI tests in women are conducted using a vaginal swab sample. Homed-IQ’s STI Complete Test (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Trichomoniasis), Chlamydia Home Test, Basic-3 STI Test, Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test, and HPV Test all require a vaginal swab. This is because testing for STIs using a urine sample is less reliable in women. During a vaginal swab, a sterile cotton swab is used to take a small amount of fluid from the vaginal wall. The fluid is then transferred to a sample collection tube which can be sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Homed-IQ STI tests that require a blood sample are the STI Complete Test (Syphilis and HIV) and the Hepatitis B Test. This is because these STIs are only detectable through blood tests.
Tip: read our blog “How does an STI test work?“, for more detailed information about our testing procedure.