Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Tests for Men


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While there aren’t any sexually transmitted diseases/infections which are unique to men, the anatomical differences between the sexes means that men are subject to their own tests. Men are typically tested for STIs via blood tests, urine tests, or penile swabs, and in this article these tests and how they are used is discussed.

Testing men for STIs through blood tests

Most infection causing agents, namely bacteria, fungi, and viruses, will be found in your blood if you are unwell. In most cases a blood test will involve your doctor examining your blood for the presence of these pathogens. Blood tests are used to test for STIs like HIV (Human Immunovirus – the pathogen that causes AIDS), Herpes, Syphilis and Hepatitis.

While for some conditions blood is examined for the presence of infection causing pathogens, for others it is tested for the presence of small molecules called antibodies. Antibodies are generated by your body in response to the presence of an unwanted infectious agent, and are specific to the bacteria, virus, or fungus in question. Looking for antibodies specific to a disease, like Herpes for example, is a good diagnostic measure of whether or not you suffer from that infection.

Testing men for STIs through urine tests

The most STIs tested for by means of urine tests are Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Urine tests are, in principle, similar to blood tests in that a sample of urine is taken and cultured so that any bacteria or fungi in the sample have a chance to grow. Once the pathogens in the sample have grown enough, they can be detected and an accurate diagnosis can be made.

Testing men for STIs through penile swabs

The penile swab is the test that most men feel uncomfortable with, even though in actual fact it is quick and easy to perform. The swab tests for STIs that can only be detected in a sample of tissue from inside the penis, or more specifically, a part of the penis called the urethra. The urethra is the tube running from your kidneys to the end of your penis, but it also adjoins onto another structure passing semen from your testicles out through the same route. Gonorrhea is an example of an STI that is most accurately detected through a penile swab.

Which STI test is most suited to your particular symptoms is a decision your doctor is most likely to make.


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