What STDs can be tested for with a urine test?
Date: December 30th, 2022
What STDs can be tested for with a urine test?
Sexually transmitted infections like herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, etc., are the most common conditions affecting people, especially those who are sexually active. In fact, according to 2018 research by the centers for disease control and prevention, in every five people in the US, 1 person has STI. Why is the number high?
One of the reasons for the high number of STI cases is due to their asymptomatic nature. Most STDs take time to show symptoms, they can take weeks or months, while others can take years before showing signs and symptoms. Another reason for the high infection cases is the techniques for STD testing.
The STI testing that healthcare professionals were performing in the past was a swab test which was very painful and thus discouraged many people from going for the test. Read on to learn how the swab test was done.
How a swab test is done, and why it discourages people from going for a regular STI test?
In the past, though it is done up to date rarely, most hospitals performed these tests by inserting swabs into the urethra of men and doing cervical swabs in women during a pelvic examination to test for the presence of bacteria causing infection.
This technique is painful, intimidating, and discouraging, which made people fear going for these tests, which led to many people spreading the infections without their knowledge because there were no symptoms. This is why healthcare professionals came with a urine test, which is painless and doesn’t have complications to ensure everyone gets tested at least once a year.
But, can a urine test detect STDs, and which STIs can be tested using a urine test? Stay tuned to get a detailed answer to this question.
STDs that can be tested with a urine test
To answer the question, can a urine test detect STD, we need to understand the STDs that can be tested using a urine test and why.
Healthcare providers come with urine tests but not all sexually transmitted infections can be tested using a urine test.
Author credit: By Ajay Kumar Chaurasiya - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=113879411s
For example, finding urine testing for STIs like human papillomavirus or trichomoniasis can be difficult. However, you can easily find urine testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia- these are the two STDs you can test using a urine test.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It affects both males and females, and it mostly occurs in the urethra and rectum in males and the cervix in females.
It can also occur in other female reproductive tracts like the uterus and fallopian tube, and because of this, women can transmit gonorrhea to the babies during birth. It is, therefore, important to have a regular gonorrhea screening while pregnant because when it affects your baby, it can lead to severe conditions like blindness.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that mostly affects the genitals but can also affect the anus through anal sex and throat through oral sex.
Other common areas where you can find gonorrhea are:
Gonorrhea rarely shows signs and symptoms, meaning you can have it without symptoms, and for this reason, you should go for regular check-ups, especially if you are sexually active and have more than one sexual partner. Below are some of the symptoms to look for in case you are showing signs:
- Painful urination
- Pelvic pain
- Painful testicle
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Discharge that resembles pus from the penis tip
- Vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse or between the periods
- Itchy anus
- Painful bowel movement
- Frequent urination
- Painful penetrative sex
When you notice some of these symptoms, then you should go for urine testing. You should, however, note that not all gonorrhea cases are tested with a urine test. The urine test is only applicable to gonorrhea that affects the urethra and vagina because they show up in urine. If your gonorrhea affects other body parts like the anus or face, or throat, then you need a swab test because they don’t show up in urine.
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection that majorly affects younger women, but it can affect both males and females. Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacterium causing this contagious infection. Chlamydia spreads through unprotected sexual intercourse, both oral, vaginal, or anal.
Chlamydia spreads easily because it usually doesn’t show signs making people spread it even without knowing; in fact, about 40 to 90 percent of chlamydia cases show no sign. For this reason, you should have a regular chlamydia screening and use condoms correctly and consistently any time you have sex. When chlamydia shows symptoms, you may experience;
- Burning sensation when peeing
- Heavy bleedings between periods
- Vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
- Inflammation of the cervix
- Pain during sex in women
- Painful testicles
- A yellow or green penile discharge
- Lower abdomen pain
Most men don’t show any symptoms of chlamydia. Men can get anal chlamydia infection through anal sex and experience bleeding and painful anus. They can orally get the infection in their throat through oral sex, which can lead to sore throat and cough.
To avoid spreading chlamydia infection, you should regularly go for chlamydia urine testing even if you don’t have symptoms. Like gonorrhea, the chlamydia testing method also depends on the affected area. For example, you can use a urine test to test for chlamydia that affects the urethra and vagina, while for chlamydia affecting the throat and the anus, you can use a testing swab.
Another STI that can be tested using a urine test is trichomoniasis though it is less common. Now that you know that a urine test can detect STDs and the reason why read on to know why most people prefer a urine test and why should also.
Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted infection resulting from a parasitic infection. It is common in women but can also affect men. Like other STIs, trichomoniasis rarely shows symptoms, but when they show, they are:
- Itchy penis and vagina
- Burning urination
- Burning sensation during sex and after ejaculation
Trichomoniasis urine tests are less common compared to those for chlamydia and gonorrhea though they are also becoming widely available.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Human papillomavirus can also be tested using a urine test, but they are less common as they are not readily available as compared to the other three STIs. Although research by the Journal of Clinical Microbiology shows that testing the first urine you release when you are emptying your bladder, called first-voided urine, is very effective.
Other urine tests?
The urine test for other STIs like syphilis and herpes is not available. The urine test for HIV was approved sometimes back though it is rarely used as blood samples, oral testing, and saliva samples are superior.
Why a urine test?
The other STI testing for bacteria, like the testing swab, is very uncomfortable and invasive, making people fear and avoid going for regular screening. The fear coupled with the asymptomatic nature of most of these STIs has seen a rise in the number of infections, especially among youths and younger adults who are sexually active.
A urine test has come in handy at this crucial moment. It has eroded the fear and encouraged people to regularly go for screening because it is not painful. With the available urine test for the most common STIs, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, most people can freely and easily undergo these STI screenings
You should go for a regular STI screening because most of the don’t show symptoms, or you might infect your partner or vice versa without your knowledge.
The question, can a urine test detect STD has been answered, but there are still some things you need to know about the urine test. Let’s look at its comparison to bacteria culture.
A urine test vs. bacteria culture
The primary test for bacterial STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia at the moment is a urine test. The urine test for trichomoniasis is also available though it is less common. In the past, healthcare providers diagnosed bacterial STIs using a bacterial culture- which involves growing bacteria from the samples taken from the cervix or urethra.
Nowadays, healthcare providers prefer bacterial DNA testing because instead of growing bacteria like a bacteria culture, they look for bacterial DNA using a ligase chain reaction (LSR).
Are there any risks with a urine test?
During a urine test, you’ll only need to urinate on a cup or a tube and give it to your healthcare provider, who will take it to the lab for testing and analysis and nothing else. It is, therefore, very safe to do a urine test.
Sexually transmitted infections are common because they are contagious and rarely show symptoms. It is, therefore important to go for regular STI screening. You can go for urine testing for STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis because the urine test can detect them.