Detecting Sexually Transmitted Infections: 4 Advantages of Rapid STI Tests

Detecting Sexually Transmitted Infections: 4 Advantages of Rapid STI Tests.

Share this

One in five Americans has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they most frequently affect young adults between 20 and 34. Although many people with STIs (also called sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs) may not experience any obvious symptoms, undetected infections can still be incredibly harmful. Left untreated, STIs can cause permanent infertility in women and are also associated with certain cancers and other health risks. As a result, fast and accurate STI tests are critical to detecting and treating infections before they spread or lead to additional health complications. 


What are the most common STIs and their symptoms?

STIs (or STDs) are infections that get passed from one individual to another during sex. The most common STDs that we see are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Signs of these infections vary by person and gender. Shortly after exposure, signs of an STD in men may include:


  • Burning with urination
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Swollen glands in the groin area
  • Rash

However, because female sexual organs are internal, STIs commonly go unnoticed for some time in women. Eventually, they may cause rashes, unusual vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, or changes to your menstrual cycle.

It’s important to know that these infections don’t always cause symptoms, and
women in particular may go months or even years without knowing. The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested. 

A rapid STI test detects results within minutes, instead of days.

Traditional STI or STD tests require your healthcare provider to send a sample to the lab for analysis. This process can take five to seven days, during which time you may feel anxiety or confusion about what to do or who to tell while you wait for results. In comparison, a rapid STI test can detect infections in under 30 minutes. Like the COVID-19 test, the rapid STD test is a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that can detect chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis with 97 percent accuracy. It was recently approved by the FDA for rapid testing in women, and it’s currently awaiting FDA-approval for men. 


Rapid STI tests offer numerous advantages, allowing you to:

  1. Prevent passing an infection to others or re-infecting yourself. If you have an STI and you don’t know it, you are more likely to pass it along to someone else unknowingly. Even if you practice safer sex, such as using condoms, you can potentially transmit an STI to someone else since you may not have any symptoms. Knowing you have an infection is critical to getting the right treatment and preventing you from giving the infection to someone else.
  2. Receive immediate treatment in the same visit. When you undergo a traditional STD test, your healthcare provider may wait to give you any antibiotics until your results are in nearly a week later. Or, they may send you home with antibiotics to address their best guess of your diagnosis, which can result in you taking more antibiotics that you actually need or even the wrong antibiotics.

    In contrast, because rapid STI tests allow us to test and deliver results in the same appointment, you can go home with the right treatment, which will lower your risk of complications or the likelihood you could pass an infection to someone else. It also ensures you get only the treatment you need and avoid antibiotics that you don’t need, which could increase resistance if you needed treatment in the future.
  3. Minimize health complications, such as infertility. Because STDs affect the reproductive system, untreated infections can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, impact your fertility, impair pregnancies, or lead to certain types of cancer. By receiving prompt treatment, you can lower the likelihood that an asymptomatic STI will lead to significant damage to your health.
  4. Promptly notify partners so they can also get tested. By identifying STIs early, you have the information you need to talk to your partner about getting tested so they can also stay healthy. This is important for reducing further transmission to others.

MedStar Health Urgent Care is one of few in the region to offer rapid STI testing for women with same-day results.

STIs are common but serious, which is why it’s important to get tested if you suspect you may be infected. At MedStar Health Urgent Care, our female patients can get rapid STI testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, using a self-swab in a private bathroom to collect the test sample. With 97 percent accuracy, you can expect results in less than 30 minutes, which means you’ll go home with the right treatment at the time of diagnosis. Rapid STI tests for men are currently awaiting FDA approval, and we offer the full scope of testing and treatment for all other sexually transmitted infections and diseases. In addition, we have the unique capability to consult with other specialists via video in real-time when necessary. 

Many STIs are curable with treatment, so if you think you could have an infection, don’t hesitate to seek care. With walk-in availability and same-day results for certain tests, we can reduce your wait time while accelerating your path to an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

In need of care?

Find a MedStar Health Urgent Care near you.

Request an Appointment

Stay up to date and subscribe to our blog

Latest blogs